While I’m sewing, I’m always thinking. Too often I’m thinking about things when I should be paying more attention to what I’m doing . . hence the frequent use of the seam ripper!
But, this morning while I’m sewing, I’m wondering:
Why do you quilt?
My guess is that most all of us have way more quilts than we’ll ever use. Some of us give away a lot of quilts but why quilts? Why not something else? We could be doing anything . . why are we quilting?
I’m obsessed with quilting I suppose. It’s mostly always on my mind. If I’m sitting upstairs spending quality time with Vince (while he sleeps in the recliner), I’m either doing handwork or knitting and I never sit there more than a few minutes that I don’t grab the laptop and start playing with Electric Quilt.
Do you think you’ll always be as intrigued with and committed to quilting?
Even 14 plus years ago when I was first divorced and Chad would go to his dad’s for weekends, friends would beg me to go out with them. Go to dinner; go to the movies; go have a drink. They all thought I needed to get a life. All I wanted to do was go home and sew!
I worked for an attorney and his office was this gorgeous old two story house. This very house, in fact:
See those two windows upstairs? That was my office. I had the whole upstairs to myself. The stairs were kinda steep so no one would ever come see me; I always had to come down if we needed to talk. Well, heck, c’mon in and have a look. Found these pictures on the internet.
This was my very office! Why did someone take a picture with the blinds all cock-eyed? That drives me nuts!
Of course, I had a desk and all kinds of other stuff in there. I had 1-1/2 hours for lunch and what’s a girl like me going to do for 1-1/2 hours? I had a Featherweight and all my sewing supplies in the closet and during lunch, I’d set it all up, including an ironing board, in this office. I’d run downstairs, heat up my lunch, bring it back upstairs and I’d spend the entire time sewing!
Chad was 6 when I began working full time and we stayed there til he was 9. I’d pick him up after school at 3:15 and bring him back to work with me. He’d have a snack and he would go into this office to do his homework and study. Yep, there was a desk and chairs in there too at the time.
The problem was . . that door leads out to a very nice deck up on the second floor and Chad could go sit out there and see what was going on in most of the south part of Lake Charles. He loved sitting out there and not much homework or studying got done. If you go back to the main picture of the house, you can see the deck railing on the side upstairs.
Whew! Those were the days. I loved that job and I loved the attorney I worked for and I loved my little private setup upstairs.
Anyway . . see how easily I get sidetracked? I had my quilting at work so I could sew during my long lunch break. The house is way up off the ground and John (the attorney) had a workshop down there. Many days during lunch, John was outside tinkering in his workshop while I was upstairs sewing. What a great job, huh?
Quilting has been a big part of my life for many years! And, I hope it is for many years to come. What about you?
Sue H says
I’ve always loved sewing. It enabled this poor girl from a family on the edge financially to have more than two dresses for school. I remember in 7th grade alternating my blue dress with my green dress, week in, week out. Then I had Home-Ec. I was hooked. It was a natural transition from garment sewing to home decorating to QUILTING. Quilting is a whole new dimension, and the possibilities seem endless. You get to be creative, feel useful, can be competitive, provide gifts for loved ones, fondle fabric, and play with color. I will never tired of quilting!
Carole Meier says
I quilt because I must have a creative outlet and this one is a pretty darn good one! So, I haven’t had to look for another one. lol Actually, most of my creative outlets were good, they just sort of changed. The main one I can remember is photography. Well, you know olden day photography with film developer and printing studio. In 1989 I wanted to go back to school and I didn’t know what to study, so I decided on my hobby and registered full time (at night as I worked during the day) for a commercial photography program (89-92). Loved it! I would set up my darkroom in my appartment and print at night. B&W my favourite. I still have all my equiptment, I just cannot part with it! Anyway, when I became pregnant with my dd, my Dr said No more chemicals! So, I went to cross stitch and very soon after quilting. The rest is herstory! I’m one to always have a hand project with me. I’m also a software junkie. I have quilt pro and EQ 5-6. Next year I plan on getting acquainted with both. They’re just sitting on my desktop at the moment! I’ll be teaching a beginner class and want to use EQ 6 to set up lessons/block intructions. I love quilting! Like photography, I can’t say there’s a part of the quilting process that I don’t enjoy, which makes it a great hobby!
I quilt for my personal enjoyment. I just love fabrics! After working full time and sewing for four wonderful kids plus myself for years, it is a joy to get up in the morning and plan my day around what I want to do in my sewing room. I do not sew many garments, but oh how I love cutting that fabric for quilts. My husband has one big concern–what am I going to do with all these quilts. If a person see my quilts and make joyful remarks about how they just love that quilt, it becomes their quilt. This truly is the very best part of my retirement.
Quilting really is my “happy place” in a crazy world. Quilting keeps my mind and hands busy. I love color, fabrics, creating, sewing, being inspired, giving gifts made specifically in mind for the giftee and sharing fun times while sewing.
Sheila in Ohio says
I had an ‘aha’ moment earlier this week about quilting. My family enjoys seeing my quilts, but they could take or leave getting one. So, I wondered why I was still doing it. The answer was, I do it for me. I enjoy the process of sewing… it’s one of the few times I think of nothing else but what’s in front of me; I enjoy the precision, I enjoy the outcome. I love looking at a quilt and trying to figure out how it’s made. And someone, somewhere will enjoy getting a quilt, even if they don’t know the maker.
Just Me says
I think the first item that could be labeled a “quilt” was made when my daughter found this pattern in a magazine of a super easy quilt and ask me to make it for her to use when she went away to college. It had super big squares and I tied it. Prior to that time, I crocheted lots of afghans, all sizes from baby to gigantic. I made a few more quilts each year to now when last year I made about 6. I love to piece and although I cannot do the hand quilting (hand problems) I try to machine quilt those that are not too big. My hands also won’t allow for me to crochet which I miss so much in the evenings.
No offense to Judy, but my biggest problem is that it is not affordable for me to have the quilting done professionally. After the cost of the fabric, batting and backing, it is just too costly for me to make many more quilts. I have decided to stick to sewing other smaller items that are more affordable for me.
That doesn’t stop me from drooling over all the beautiful quilts Judy makes and collecting patterns for sometime when I win the lottery! LOL!
I am not complaining – as I am truly blessed with no major health problems and enough money to live on which is more than many have in this current economy.
I have many UFO’s to work on in 2009 which will keep out of trouble!!!
Love reading your blog Judy. Hope you stay on line.
My first quilt was a request from a boyfriend to make him something for his bed so I sewed a bunch of squares together and tied the quilt. Later, when I was married and my new husband moved me from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, I found quilting, or rather, it found me. We had gone to the New Mexico State Fair in 1974 and in one of the buildings was a lady at a quilting frame. Then, I was a shy thing, so my husband took up a conversation with this lovely lady and she offered to teach me how to quilt. From then on I was hooked. I can’t sit with nothing in my hands so when I’m not quilting, I’m knitting. I think I would like to have a laptop for Christmas so I can load EQ on it and play while watching TV in the evenings. That way I can design so many more quilts I will probably never make…ooohhhh the list is long 🙂
Nervous habit, LOL! My sister often says that me without a sewing machine is like a smoker without a cigerette. I also don’t watch alot of TV and quilting fills up that space in time. I LOVE to see a design come together, how my fabrics are going to work, and it all seems easy and relaxing to me. I know it isn’t so easy for other people though so I am always happy to share my tips and pointers with those who are learning. I also like seeing a stack of quilts, that I have made. I could have spent that time doing something non-productive, but I choice to quilt and am rewarded by my quilts (otherwise I like to cook or garden and I find both of those things very rewarding too!). Unlike paperwork, I feel like I have something to show for my efforts… and it is something that my son just loves and so does my DH so we all get enjoyment out of it…. as long as I don’t get so caught up in it during the day that it takes over. I usually sew at night after my son goes to bed so as not to take away from his time. Oh – and as long as I am quilting – I am not biting my nails – see – told ya it was my nervous habit!
Eileen Keane says
I started because I fell in love with Amish quilts and couldn’t afford to buy one. Since then, I feel good that I can “cover” my family with something I made and they’ll remember. Kind of a legacy I guess.
At night my brain spins with ideas; I just have to figure out how to write them down in a room that I have completely blacked out.
It’s cheaper than a psychiatrist (at least I have fabric, notions, etc.) and I have control. I can make that fabric do what I want it to do. You meet the most amazing people, Quilters are the best.
karyls quilts says
I started while unemployed, we were given a waterbed and the cool thing was quilts on them…so with $1 yd fabric,a Sears catalog I copied one I liked. I never did get my graphic art job back. but the quilting stayed with me as a means to doodle designs…a #2 pencil to draft them out..plus colors to satisfy that end. Ive even made some $$ to support the habit… its lasted since ‘ 83 so I guess its part of me!
Sue Lord says
I started garment sewing when I was 12. I did a lot of garment construction for many years. I then started smocking and heirloom sewing, porcelain doll making, machine embroidery, teaching and designing. As a single mother I worked in a one woman office for an asphalt paving contractor. I was mainly needed to answer the phone and radio. I did lots of cross stitch, reading, smocking and embroidery those seven years. Right in the office! Several years ago I began quilting. When I first began I used the embroidery machine for as much of the work as possible. I now use the embroidery machine along with traditional quilting. I find myself doing more and more traditional quilting. I also like to use photo printing and my passion is probably memory quilts. I am slow but it is fun. I still teach machine embroidery and heirloom sewing but have found myself adding in a few small quilting projects. I am sorry this ran so long. Judy, your law office story reminded me of when my children were young and I was a single working mom. My children got off the bus at the shop every day around 4:00. That is my long quilting story! Love, your blog. Sue
Karen L says
“Cause its fun!”
Cathi Harry says
I learned how to sew at a very young age. I started making doll clothes, then on to clothes for myself, then for my daughters when they were young. In my “maturity” I don’t need the clothes, but still love to sew. , I took my first quilting class 3 years ago and am hooked. I also enjoy embroidery, so that took me to crazy quilting. Also knit & crochet when Old Arthur (arthritis) allows!
It keeps me sane!!! My life seems to be out of control at times with a very demanding, stessful job, but quilting is something that’s all mine. There are no deadlines (usually), and no one dictates how to do it, what colors to use. The decisions, good or bad, are mine and mine alone. That sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But I think all you quilters know what I mean!
Judy B says
I quilt because I like creating stuff, and prefer making useful stuff. As a bonus quilts are made out of fabric, which I love. I get frustrated, I get bored, I get sore hands and fingers, I get back aches and my shoulders ache, and I can’t wait to do it again. I love designing, and design way too many quilts for a hundred people to make, but I can dream!
One of the best days of my life was when I spent the entire day trying to get a simple 12 inch block made. I had spent about 2 months packing and unpacking all our possesions, finally found enough bits to make the block, which I stitched, pulled apart about ten times, but eventually got it right. It felt sooo good!
A day at the quilt frame hand quilting is better than any meditation, just so relaxing. And even better is to share that day with other quilters.
I’ve always loved to do crafts. I’ve scrapbooked, done some crochet, tried my hand at cross stitch, did ceramics and then I found quilting. When we lived in Okinawa a friend and I would get together every Weds for craft day. She would quilt and I would crochet. I went to quilt stores with her so she could buy fabric and found myself enamored with fat quarters. I eventually got a stash of a whopping 50 or so of them. (If only I knew!! hahahaha) We moved to Texas a year later and I found another crafty friend. We got to talking one day and realized we both wanted to learn to quilt. We went to a quilt store, bought a book, dusted off the ole sewing machines and learned together. It was a very special two years. Once a week we would meet at her house and while her small son played on the floor we would quilt and laugh and talk.
Quilting speaks to something in me. It’s more then the colors and textures. It quiets me inside. I am happy when quilting and creating. It just “is” for me. I believe I will always do it. I will always enjoy it. Every time I sit at my machine I can feel my pulse slow down. I so love everything about it. Picking out the pattern, chosing the fabrics, the cutting, the sewing, the quilting. I just love it.
Goodness knows why I love sewing so much. No one in my family sews and I have no friends who like sewing or craft in any way! But I think about quilting all day at work and even though I work long hours by the time I get home, walk the dog, cook dinner, tidy up its often after 9pm..I always manage to steal some time for sewing, even if its setting up the cutting mat in the loungeroom and cutting fabric while watching a movie with my husband. I know this probably sounds silly but it just makes me feel at peace and happy. Its a form of stress relief and not to mention….I LOVE IT! 🙂
my grandmother started me out with a doll quilt she made for me. it was the only quilt of hers that i ever saw or had because she died very early in my life.
my mother sewed, embroidered, and did needlework, and my aunt was a professional knitter, so all the women in our family were involved with fabric, yarn, or thread in some fashion.
when the bicentenial came along in 1976, there was a big push to bring back the old crafts and quilting was one of them. i learned about quilting thru magazines and books. mostly i studied because there was very little money for fabric in our budget and absolutely no encouragement to begin quilting for real.
so for years i convinced myself that i was just ‘someone who knew about quilts’ and not an actual quilter. that changed in 2000.
i started out actually quilting with a 3 ft square corner, a $99 sewing machine, a tv tray for a sewing table, and 2 grocery sacks where i kept my material, thread and scissors.
many quilts later i still enjoy quilting. my space has gotten larger and my equipment has gotten better, but most of all now i have the encouragement and support that i lacked before.
I quilt because I don’t sew clothing and needed something to do with all my fabric. I’m all about the planning and finishing the top. Takes a major effort from me to do the rest and finish it.
I quilt because I have to…it’s just a strong urge every day to feel the fabric, create and dream of new quilts to make. I often think why am I doing this. The answer is I just need to quilt! It’s a passion.
I love quilting – it gives me the opportunity to express myself creatively. besides I love fabric and what am I going to do with all this fabric if I stopped quilting. LOL
I continue to find quilts that I want to make and wish I could be more dedicated about using my time to quilt. I have ebbs and flows of time when I quilt and am productive and other times when I really should get more accomplished than I do.
I hope I will quilt for many more years- it truly is a big part of my life..
I figure if I haven’t tired of it in 43 years, I’m probably not going to now. =)
I love the office and the story about having your sewing things there. What a great job, and a great space! If I lived there, of course, that would definitely be where the longarm went! LOL!
Because I can.
Becky in GA says
As I was reading all the posts in answer to your question about why I quilt & sew I realized that I relate to every single one of them. I to began sewing doll clothes by hand, learned to make clothing in order to have new clothes as a teenager, sewing has always been my stress relief and escape from reality (aka therapy). I always admired quilts but thought I didn’t have the patience. In 1992 we moved to Kentucky and I was surrounded by quilts (you know Paducah is there), anyway my husband took a truck driving job and was gone alot. I homeschoold our kids and needed something as an escape when school was over for the day when he was gone from home. I went to the grocery store and bought one of the quilt magazines with directions in the back, but I don’t remember which one. When I got home I read it from cover to cover and then did it again. I got out my fabric stash (mostly poly cotton but it was what I had) and made my first quilt. It was a wedding ring (not DWR) made doll size. I hand quilted it (never again since then) and it hangs on my sewing room wall. I was hooked and the rest is history! I still use sewing as a stress relief and escape. It’s much better than therapy and if I shop smart it is cheaper. But I must say it is easy to loose all grip on the check book when I’m in the quilt shop. Thanks for all you do for your readers.
The Calico Quilter says
I can’t remember not sewing. I made doll clothes when I was small, and then Mom helped me transition to making my own clothes. I made everything, even coats, for years. I spent the most excrutiating semester in Home Ec as a high school freshman, watching other girls suffering through the construction of the simplest shift dress in history. Mine would have been done in a couple of classes except the teacher made us all work at the same pace. Torture! I always slept under quilts as a child because my grandmother, uncharacteristically since she was not the domestic sort at all, had pieced a bunch of quilt tops and mom hired a woman to quilt them. (Mom didn’t quilt back then because there weren’t enough hours in the day. After we were out of school and out of the house she launched into quilting with a vengeance.) Now, I can’t imagine not sewing all the time. I have done home dec sewing, clothing, needlework of various sorts, and other hobbies such as photography, but I always go back to piecing quilts. It is so soothing to work the fabric and watch the design come together. And, you get a useable item when you’re done!
You know me, I gotta be different!
I quilt because it’s hard. Not the sewing, but the compromise between the perfection in my head and the reality of what I can actually accomplish. I quilt because I was damaged as a child and somehow the process of putting fabrics together is related to piecing together the shards of my fractured childhood. I quilt because I love color, patterns, and discovering what fabric does when it’s organized by human intelligence, but I have to admit, I sometimes avoid my sewing room because quilting is emotionally hard for me. I’m getting better (in all senses applicable) but I’m still slow — a “quilt-in-a-day” would for me still take weeks and weeks.
Recently, my husband and I had “the talk” — about finances, what else? — and I said I’d go along with anything he wanted to suggest, but I wouldn’t give up quilting. So, given all that I wrote about my ambivalence about quilting, why is it still the one thing I can’t give up? Because it’s very very powerful, emotionally and creatively. I can do all the other crafty things like knitting, cross stitch and the like, but quilting comes from someplace very deep inside me.
Last January I wrote about why we quilt on my blog. Here is a link to what I wrote, then. http://pennyquilts.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-i-get-out-of-quilting.html
I enjoyed today’s post.
Quilting is fairly new to me in that I actually am working on my first ever pieced quilt and it’s actually one of those you either love to do it or your hate it won’t do it again things to me. I’m loving it — I have always loved fabric and creating things. I can remember sewing and creating different projects when I was younger – I’d always watch mom sew on her Singer and I’d watch my aunt and grandmother sew on their old treadle machines – it was fascinating to me and still is. So why not, I say why not keep creating! My mom started quilting a couple years ago and she was searching for a Featherweight – I found her one on Ebay and promptly bought it and shipped it out to her. When we visited with her last year, I saw all the wonderful quilts she has been creating and since then, I’ve been bitten and I don’t think the sting will go away! Mom will be pround and happy. My goals for 2009 are to continue to enhance my quilting skills and get better at piecing and getting all those darn corners to match up perfectly!
Because I can’t afford psychotherapy.
Because I am addicted.
Because it doesn’t require a prescription.
Because I feel the need to create, and more chilluns is out of the question.
Because sometimes I get lucky and something beautiful comes out of that room.