Sunday, April 12, 2015

Repeat after me: "I am a fabulous quilter."

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, 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.


Judy@Quilt Paradigm said...

Well.said :) It makes me sad when I stand and look at a beautiful quilt in a show and I hear someone say "I could never do that. I'm just not that good." It would be different if I heard "That's beautiful but I don't ever want to put that much thought into my hobby" or outlet or whatever quilting is to the person. I go to shows to be inspired. Not to berate myself and my abilities. I probably would stop going to shows and quilting if I did that ;)

BBQuilts said...

When I was white gloving at a show my guild was having several years ago a woman came in and had that deer in headlights look. I talked to her for a bit and she told me she was interested in learning how to quilt but after looking at the quilts in the show she was pretty sure she couldn't do it. Explained that some of the quilters had been doing it for over 20 years. When the next show was coming up I encouraged and got several fairly new quilters to put quilts in the show, explaining that we need to take pride in our work and that the public needs to feel that they too could make a quilt.

Auntie Em said...

Thank you. This weekend I was trying to explain to my husband how going to a fabulous show like MQX makes me both inspired and intimidated. I find it hard not to compare myself to the amazing quilters who produce show worthy quilts but at the same time I am so glad to be able to see their mastery.

Janice said...

I **L O V E** this post. Yes, there is room for all quilters. Those quilts hanging at MQX were done by people who were once "Newbies", and started out (most likely) with that same "I could never do that" attitude. Time, practice, education, and encouragement has taken them oh so far. We can all become the quilter we want to be.

Angie said...

You make some fabulous points here... (get it? lol) but I also look at the quilts at MQX and think, "Someday, I want to do that!" I took 2 classes and can't wait to get to my machine and practice what I learned. During those classes, I thought, "I can do that, too!" We never improve if we don't try something new occasionally. Attitude is everything- if you tell yourself you can't do that- you never will!

Unknown said...

Well said. I look at a fabulous quilt and put it on my bucket list. I may never get to the bottom of the bucket, but at least I have given some thought that I could do it.

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