Saturday, November 8, 2014

Throwing in the Towel . . . or the Quilt Block

One of the up sides to life in the "second half", is self-awareness.  I've had 50+ years to get to know myself - what I like, what I can do, what I want to do . . .  And sometimes that includes knowing when and what to give up. 

I began quilting in 2002 - starting by hand piecing and quilting a small wall-hanging from a kit.  There was a stretch in there, when I was working at the library and had kids in high school, that I didn't sew a stitch for five years.  I picked it back up about three years ago. I have made a dozen lap-size quilts, a couple doll quilts, and a bargello wall hanging that I adore.  I have my first full-size (queen size) quilt in progress and actually nearing completion of the top, if I would find time to work on it.

I've posted lately about making the "world's wildest quilt" from fabric my daughter selected.  The body of the quilt top is finally assembled - but not easily.  I have sewn and "un-sewn" the blocks so many times that some of the seams were coming loose along the edges, requiring some re-stitching.  Even with my most cautious seam ripping, some edges began to fray, keeping points from lining up precisely.  By the time I got it assembled this afternoon, my frustration level was high and I wasn't doing my best work.  I just wanted it done!  And that's when it hit me . . .   This is not my thing.  

Don't misunderstand, I love to sew.  And I enjoy cutting and piecing the occasional quilt block.  But I do not enjoy assembling intricate blocks and I do not enjoy the repetition of making dozens and dozens of the same block.   And I really, strenuously* do not enjoy juggling yards of fabric through my trusty Kenmore machine.  I much prefer smaller projects that I can finish and move on.

Why did it take me all those years to figure it out?  Because I wanted to BE a quilter.  I wanted to be part of the quilt-iverse; to speak the lingo and visit the wonderful shops and buy beautiful fabrics.   I wanted to be in the Quilter Club with these women and their beautiful creations.  

But today I realized how silly that is, so . . . I quit.  I am focusing on sewing small projects and having fun.  I will no long try to deceive myself - or anyone else - that I am a "quilter".  But here's the best part - - I'm ok with that. I can still appreciate the quilts others make, and maybe adapt their ideas into smaller versions.  I can still spend hours browsing through a quilt shop.  I can still buy beautiful fabrics and make beautiful creations.  And if I stick to creating things I enjoy, I can do it well.  


* This is a reference to a line from the movie A Few Good Men - Demi Moore's character "strenuously objects" during one of the courtroom scenes.  It's a favorite phrase at our house.

This is the wild quilt top so far.  I'll post more about it when it's done - including a close-up of the fabrics.  The magenta fabric (in the top left block) has elephants on it, and the orange-ish looking fabric is actually magenta  with neon yellow squares.  The border and backing are two more wild fabrics.  And yes, the arrangement of blocks isn't exactly what I intended, but by the time I noticed it I would rather have set fire to it than take it apart one more time.  


  1. I sooooo understand this. After I made my last full sized quilt and screwed it up royally, I threw in the towel, too. I'm not a quilter, but like you I really, really, really want(ed) to be one. I might try again one another lifetime perhaps. Something has to be done with all of the material I've gathered over the years. Not to mention the half-started projects. Sigh.

    FWIW, I think your quilt top is lovely. Great colours and if you hadn't told me that there was something "wrong" with the arrangement, I wouldn't know. In fact, I'm not sure I do know.

    Great job!!!

  2. What's in a name? What is a quilter? Yes, it is someone who makes quilts, but how do you define quilt? It is much more than a large bed sized combination of fabric layers that is harder to push though the harp space of a domestic sewing machine than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. There are small landscape wall hangings, there are place mats, there are vests, aprons, table runners ,etc. that still fit the classical definition of a small quilt. And then there is the non-classic but equally valid definition of quilting ... the piecing together of different aspects of life. I love your book reviews, your zentangle posts, your points of view on life under construction. If this is not the patchwork of life, then what is? We all have projects we do not like. Maybe they are a requested color palette for someone else that we ourselves do not care for. Maybe it is a technique that is just not our preference. I love the look of paper piecing and have tried it but it does not float my boat to do it. There are so many worthy books out there that I have given my self permission to not finish those that I have given a fair chance and still hold no appeal to me. You are not quitting because you are not a quitter. You are making a wise choice based on getting to know yourself better. So, by your tight definition, you say you are not a quilter. If you define quilter that way then maybe in your mind you are not. Well change that "l" to a "t" and you are not a quitter, either.