This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Machine Quilters Exposition, or MQX as we call it around here. Honestly, since I've always just called it MQX, now that I wrote it out I'm not even sure if it is Exposition or Exhibition, but in any case it's a great show in Manchester NH showcasing the best in machine quilting prowess from the world over. Always a feast for the eyes, always a source of inspiration and awe. And if we are being totally honest, always a bit intimidating.
As I stood outside with the other early birds, waiting for the doors to unlock so we could stream in and start drooling, I was chatting with another lovely quilter; you know, because that's what we do. In the moments of chatting about where we were from (not far away), did we have a quilt in the show (no and no), and sharing photos of our equally adorable twins (mine 12 year old girl girls, hers 3 year old boy cats), she happened to drop her thoughts on why this show was not to be missed, and they included this message of awe:
"These people are quilters. I just play with fabric."
I get where she is coming from. I mean, check out any quilt in MQX so heavily quilted in minute detail so as to render you almost cross eyed from teeny stitches and in intricate detail and designs you know that in a million years you could never come up with, and it is pretty easy to feel inferior and/or like you are wearing size 42 clown shoes in a crowd of come hither high heels, but....no. Just no.
You are a quilter.
The entire premise of my Perfection is Overrated lecture is just that - a quilt doesn't have to be perfect, or an award winner, or even one deemed worthy by a panel of judges to be juried into a show to be beautiful, have worth, and be a work of art. There is room in this hobby/art for every quilt, and every type of quilter, from those who make a career of winning awards and inspiring us with their art at every turn to those who make a nine patch quilt with seven unmatched points and use it as a cat bed, and when it comes right down to it, we are all equal in that WE ARE ALL QUILTERS!
Do you own at least three of the following: Mat, rotary cutter, a ruler, a spool of thread, scissors, and more than one piece of fabric? You are a quilter.
Do you spend hours on end or just a few minutes a week hanging out with your fabric, cutting it up, sewing it together, creating, rolling around naked in it, whatever? You are a quilter.
Do you make quilts to brighten someone's day? Do you keep them all for yourself? You are a quilter.
Do you buy fabric without a clue what you will do with it and line your walls with all of your stash? Do you only buy what you need and have a teeny stash and almost no scraps? You are a quilter.
Do you belong to a quilt guild? Do you NOT belong to a quilt guild? You are a quilter.
Do you design your own quilts? Do you always use patterns? You are a quilter.
And here's my personal favorite, from the annals of the quilt police themselves: Do you prewash? Do you NOT prewash? You are a quilter.
Matched points, perfect piecing, gorgeous quilting, professional bindings.....those might get you a quilt hanging in a show festooned with ribbons and some fun prize money, absolutely. But does it make you more of a quilter than the newbie who just took her first class and is contemplating her first big girl sewing machine purchase?
Not in my book.
Respect your art. Respect your identity as a fabric hoarding, scrap busting, masterpiece making, cat bed lining, prize winning, just starting out QUILTER.
And a fabulous quilter at that.