Friday, May 7, 2010

Quilting Without Obligation

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I finished this quilt top last weekend.  I had great intentions to baste it and quilt it this week but life happened...

I need to write this... for me.  If you happen to agree, that's great!  If you don't, well that's great too!

Quilting is a fabulous hobby.  It is one that can be all consuming too.  If you let it.  Blog-land is a wonderful place for quilters because there is so much inspiration, encouragement, camaraderie, and talent.  But there is also a flip-side and it's not so pretty or inspiring.  Jealousy, competitiveness, one-upmanship, and even the occasional case of a copycat among quilters make for some interesting drama {and hurt feelings too}.

I am a wife, a mother, a friend, an employee, and a trusted advisor first.  I would love to unveil a new finished quilt or pattern every other day but that's not possible for me.  And that's OK for me because I have other obligations first. 

My favorite blogs are still those that have a handmade feel to them.  They aren't covered in sponsors but rather they have pictures of "here's what I'm working on".  They are friendly, honest, helpful and interactive beyond their sponsored giveaways.  And please know, I'm not knocking the bloggers that are big and have sponsors because that really is awesome to be recognized commercially.

So for me, I quilt because I love it, not because I'm in a race to finish. Because really, what fun is it to race through a project just to have a "finish"?  I love to quilt because I'm making something with my hands for someone else that will be used and cherished.  I also love to quilt because there are just so many beautiful fabrics out there to work with!  It can be easy to get frustrated and discouraged if you can't keep up with the pros but maybe it will help to remember why you quilt in the first place...

So, why do you love to quilt?


wishes, true and kind said...

LOL -- I agree. And sometimes I wonder where in the world my blog content will come from, because I am lucky to find time to sew in little snippets here and there a few evenings a week and sometimes on weekends. I feel like I'm always showing WIPs and UFOs with an actual finish only every few months. But I love the wonderful friends I have made by interacting with others through my blog and their blogs.

I love to quilt because it is an outlet for my creativity and I get to PLAY. I really love the process of imagining the design, making it happen, and then altering/playing with it it as the design unfolds. I love it when people like and appreciate my work, but I'd do it anyway. Sometimes I work on a project very slowly, savoring every moment. Other times I feel rushed to get to the next step so I can really see how it's going to look. But it's always special time for me. And when I get to sew with another passionate quilter, while that's a whole different kind of fun!

I love your blog and your work, that you are so positive and encouraging of others, that you love fabric, that you have Amy Butler hexagons in your banner, and that while neither one of us can keep up with the pros, that's not on our agendas anyway.

Deanna said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and the post really hit home. I have started a little blog recently, but one of the reasons I put it off for so long is that I have about 1 hour a day to sew. That's it. So, I don't turn out project after project. Also, I seem to make mostly large things that take a long time and why would anyone want to read "did another few blocks today" for a month running? Plus, too much time blogging is less time sewing. Anyway, I have enjoyed my visit to your blog and expect to return. Be kind to yourself--you are doing fine.

Amy said...

Great post. I've been blogging a fairly long while, mostly about homeschooling. But after 7 years (egads!) "today we did math, then grammar, then history" gets pretty old. So I'm planning to switch over to more quilting and home improvement topics. I have a tendency to be very competitive, but I think I will take this to heart:

"I love to quilt because I'm making something with my hands for someone else that will be used and cherished."

And maybe, if something I post inspires someoneelse, then that will be enough success for my blog.

Thanks for the wise words!

kheli said...

I agree. I started my blog before I got heavy into quilting, but I have noticed a competitiveness that goes along with the commercialism. Now, I am not criticizing anyone for being an entrepreneur, or finding a way to make money doing something they love, OR finding a way to work while homeschooling. BUT, I have to deal with all that stuff from 8 to 5 so I need a "softer, kinder" atmosphere with my quilting.

Why do I love to quilt? Well, I have searched all my life for my medium. I am a product designer which uses some of my creativity, but doesn't allow as much artistic license. I have painted, inked, cross-stitched, photographed, Photo-shopped, dyed fabric, beaded, embroidered, and crocheted. Quilting happened as my son was in high school and gained independence so I had more time. And my Mom is a quilter. And we know quilters are always trying to recruit! I love the process of choosing fabrics, cutting, piecing, basting and free-motion quilting. I gives me joy and brings me peace. So I read the blogs for inspiration and camaraderie as I have "met" many nice people I now correspond with on a regular basis.
I enjoy your blog and I salute your spirit.

Piece On!

Aunt 'Reen said...

This is my first visit to your blog!
I haven't been blogging long enough to run into the negative side of quilting. (thank goodnes)

I quilt because I am compelled to do so for self expression.
Every significant life event is acknowledged and expressed thru my quilts. Babies,graduations, weddings,friendships, farewells and even serious illness. Every quilt tells a story of an event I will always remember.

You are quilting for all the right reasons.
I hope you never lose your passion!

Andrea said...

Well said ;-) I've been having similar thoughts too.... I quilt because its finally something that I really love. I love the feel of fabrics, the composition of geometry and colour, and I love the fact that a quilt/blanket is always something that someone reaches for when cozying up on the couch to watch a movie. It feels like home.

My blog to me needs to show my quilting journey, but I also like to keep it as bits and pieces of my life too... I love to look back at how my tastes and skills have evolved. I love to share things that I have discovered, and hope that someone else can comiserate with me, or use my experience to help their future quilting experience. I love to read others' bits about their lives so I think I should include it in mine.
I love to blog about quilting because I've met some incredible friends who although I've never met in real life, I treasure them just the same as if we were 'real' friends.

Andrea said...

and I love your caption under your quilt "...I had great intentions...but life happened" . I can totally relate to that comment, and it feels good to hear someone else say it too

Rachel said...

Hey Jennifer,
I think quilting is an art form and everyone does it differently. It is a way to express yourself and should be about making you and those around you happy.
I should take this time to say thanks for being so nice these past few weeks and answering my silly questions. Your blog has inspired me. I only know one other person who quilts and it's nice to have another perspective. Your blog is how I found all the other blogs I am now following.
I got into quilting for a couple of reasons. One, as a kid, I used to love sleeping under the hexagon quilt my great-grandmother pieced and quilted by hand out of old clothing. The other is my aunt who has been quilting for many years. We have somewhere in the range of 18 quilts in our home that she has made for us. Each one is special and cherished. I have always loved to sew but never found the time. Recently I decided I needed to make the time for myself. It's sad to think that anyone would see it as a competition.

Maria said...

It was so refreshing to read your post Jennifer. I JUST love to make things out of fabric be it a quilt, wallhanging,tablerunner etc. I belong to a small group in the country and enjoy the friendship and just being together.
I jioned the blog world 10mths ago and love to talk to my friends all over the world see what you are doing. Also participating in swaps.
Like you I enjoy the more homemade type blogs. You seem like more part of their world and it is lovely.

Have a Very Happy Mothers

Carla said...

Hi Jennifer,
I have been blogging less than 2 months now. I can see where the competition comes in. It's that way in a quilt guild I belong to also. (Could that be because it is all women?!) I don't want to have a blog with advertisements for laundy detergent and vitamins scrolling across the top. I want to inspire others to make quilts. I can see where blogging can become consuming, but it has also prompted me to be more productive. I have already made some sweet friends (like YOU) who I would not have ever met except for this method of communication. I find that so fascinating. I am a teacher by education and see blogging as an extension of that. At least for me, anyway. My favorite thing about quilting has always been sharing it with girlfriends. Today, I spent the day with a friend working on the quilts to give away to orphans in Rwanda. While sewing we were discussing that even though we have invited many to join us, only a few have followed through. That's okay. Not everyone sees how quilts can bless others. That's my motivation...for my kids, my grandchildren,friends and for just someone who needs encouragement. I feel like God made me with a creative side. I've always made things. Now that I'm all grown up, I have decided to focus on quilting as my outlet.Lots of people don't understand it. That's okay. I've just decided to do what I feel God wants me to do with this side of me, not what others might think I should be doing or not doing. Because I don't have small children at home anymore and don't work outside the home, I have more time to devote to sewing and have a goal of doing at least a little every day. It's just my stage of life. It's certainly not always been that way! I love, love, love fabric. I'd die a little if I couldn't quilt, I think. Thanks for reminding me, though, that it's still a hobby. Sometimes I can be I wrote in my first blog post ever, not that long ago.
I love your blog, your ideas, your encouragement and your spirit. You go girl!
Keep up the good work,

Crafty Chops said...

Hi there,

I am another new quilter, and really love your site.

I can see why some people can get very competitive, but at the end of the day not every one of us wants to have a book, or an etsy business.

I started quilting because I fell in love with a mad japanese quilt book in my uni library, but only made my first attempt about 7 years later when I wanted something a little thinner than a duvet for summer.

The blog got started as I dont know anyone else near me who quilts (bar the local WI, which I am far too young to join just yet, although the idea of cake is tempting), so its great to have a way to share this fantastic hobby with others and get inspiration.

I really want to make hexes everytime I visit your blog.

live a colorful life said...

I quilt because it is part of my heritage, because I love fabric and can't get enough of it, and because I have made great friends through quilt blogging, including you and two of the above commenters. I have often felt like an underachiever when I see the number of quilts other people produce. Like "what is WRONG with me???" because I can't do the same thing, and then I get discouraged. I don't have small children at home like a lot of you, I only work part time, etc. And then I remember, quilting should be to soothe the soul. It's not a competition. I read this great quote just this morning and it seems applicable to the the topic of quilting as well. "There is more to life than increasing its speed." Mahatma Gandhi. In other words, for me, there is more to my quilting life than the number of quilts I produce in a week.

katieD said...

I quilt to keep sane! the only person I have ever been competitive with is myself!! I dont need other people to compete with, I just try my best to please me!!
I love to hand quilt, piecing is a necessary evil in a way to have something to quilt! Although every year I hand piece blocks on the beach so I can quilt them at home in the winter and smell the suncream and remember my holiday! Even when the quilt is washed there is a faint smell, it takes ages to wash out completely. I love the whole process, get obsessive about 1/2 square triangles and collect different ways to make flying geese but still haven't found my favourite!!!

A said...

I have just discovered your blog and think its great. I am quite new to quilting so haven't really discovered the negative side yet. I visit blogs for inspiration but find myself loving the blogs of people who are new and on their first few quilts just as much as the bloggers who have been doing it for years and post tutorials etc. I don't know any real life people who quilt and its not as popular here in the UK as it seems to be in the US the blogs are a fabulous inspiration and learning tool for me. However my reasons for having a blog are completely different. Its my way of keeping a record of what I do hopefully so I can see the progress, posting the progress of things so I can see how far along I am on a project and posting pictures of the far too many fabrics I buy! But nobody reads it and I honestly don't mind. There is no pressure to blog, its just my rambling and my record for me. If I stop enjoying it, I'll stop doing it.
I can't quite explain why I love quilting, maybe partly because its creative and is a different outlet from my full time job as a lawyer. I didn't have a hobby before this and have fallen hard for quilting, I love doing it, reading about it and browsing blogs about it.

Jolene said...

Thanks for your honest post. I can really say "amen" to that. I hesitated to start a blog, simply because I didn't want to take the fun out of it, but I want it to be a journal for me of my quilting journey and if anyone else is interested, then I'm very honored. But I REFUSE to let the competition get to me. I want to take inspiration from all the many talented quilters out there (including you) and then go and sew like crazy just cause it's so much fun!

Em said...

That girl, I loved your post and I quilt because I love the creative process and I love to give things away! The peers I have met through my blog, you and so many others, enrich my life daily! Unfortunately it is a jealousy of my husband's and I struggle lately but it is a part of me I value and so long live blogging and finding the middle ground!!!! Thanks for the realness that you share on your blog and in personal emails and comments!

BaileyGirl5 said...

I love to quilt because I love to make things with my own stamp to give to people that I care about. I enjoy being able to create something that they will use and hopefully cherish. I love having a way to show my style and I love to learn. Boy .... am I learning a lot too! Your post was very thought provoking for me.

Marianna said...

Wow, after reading all the other wonderful comments it is difficult to know what I can add. I agree with most of the statements that were written. So I guess I will divide my answer into - why I quilt and why I blog.

I quilt because it is an outlet for my artistic talents. For that restless spirit inside of me that doesn't let me sit still and vegetate while life just flows by. I draw, embroider, photograph, knit, crochet, watercolor, blog, etc. all for the same reason as well. I make things with my hands because I like creating useful, lovely objects for my pleasure and others. In this way I share a part of my passion, vision, spirit, love, with my children/husband and my extended family. I am inspired by all the patterns, colors, texture, design, that exists in fabric and of course in life. I find that it is a gift that I can share and it brings me pleasure as well. On a more basic level a quilt is a terribly useful object that the recipient will use everyday. It is like a hug from me to them.

I blog because it is a way to keep track of my life essentially it is a journal of my journey. I don't feel an obligation to blog or compete with anyone. I've been blogging for 10 years, long before I started quilting. Sometimes I write a lot and sometimes not. Sometimes years go by and I don't' blog at all, "life gets in the way." But I go back to it again and again because I like looking back at the road I've taken. I look back and smile through my tears and regret not writing more.

To me Flickr and blogs are a great way to witness other peoples accomplishments, draw inspiration, and share some of my own. I joined the LA Modern Quilt Guild for the same reason. It is a way to connect to other quiters who share my passion.

Lynne said...

Woah. Here I was thinking I was just quilting while the telly is on and than I find this post:

and then your post and realise I have to use my brain cells while all this is going on! Maybe we all quilt and blog for different reasons. I quilt and blog because I really enjoy it. Maybe other people quilt and blog as a means to an end, to make some money from it all. To me it's just an extension of the age old desire to make everything nice and warm and cosy and pretty. And the blogging part is like having girl friends who like what you like. I love it when I get a comment on my blog that really cheers me up or makes me really laugh hard. and I love reading something on someone else's blog that I sympathise with or feel the same way about or when I see something they've made and I think "wow, that's now on my things to do list". And I'm so excited about our bee. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with because I think every member of the group will surprise us and challenge us. And you're first. Hurray!

Danielle said...

What a poignant blog post - I agree with you whole-heartedly! Let's face it, we all wish sometimes that we were Wonderwoman, but really - we're not! Nobody is. Quilting is a slow art-form. I really don't know if I would feel the same way about my quilts or other things I make if I churned out a couple a week. Each quilt is special and I want to savour every moment of making it - I don't want to race through it just so I can stick a picture of it on my blog. Of course I often envy the clever people who can whip up a quilt in seemingly no time at all, that's great for them, but it's not for me.

I haven't been blogging for very long and I don't post very often, just when I have something I want to share. It's been great to be able to share the 'fruits of my labour' with others and to comment on and be inspired by others' fruits too! But there is so much more going on in my life outside of quilting and blogging! Life gets in the way, as you say! And so it should!!

Looking forward to getting started on our bee!!

Danielle x

Hello Rayne said...

Thanks for the great post! I needed that kick in the pants (it's a good thing)! For me, I have been so inspired by all of these wonderful blogging quilters that I felt overwhelmed. Yes, I have blogged and I stopped because I couldn't seem to come up with enough content this being mainly due to financial, family and time constraints. As much as I want to blog, it's just not the right time for me - I am hoping very soon though. After reading this post, I am going to take it from a completely different angle. The goal will be to focus on improving my skills, blogging for me and meeting other wonderful people who love to quilt.

Yes, I am a quilter. Why do I quilt? Yes, I want to have my own shop and make my own patterns one day. I am a single mama so becoming financially stable is very important to me. Again, this won't be happening for a bit. As if I am going to do this I want to be able to put in 110%. Nothing is worth doing unless we can give it our best. Is this why I quilt? No, not in the least. I love to quilt because I adore fabrics and love learning something new. Quilting never gets boring!!! I believe that God has given me these skills for a reason not only to benefit myself but to help bless others using these skills.

VeeV said...


i call them the quilting snobs...BUT... i enjoy their works too. it's just not what I want to do. a word i learned in blogland, was "utility quilt" in meant to be used ~ those are the kind i want to work on.

I couldn't have said it any better than you did - and i thank you for that.

I'm glad i found your blog!!


Jodi said...

Here-here! Applause, applause! Thank you for that!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Love your blog though:-)
Greeting from Thailand.

Bridgette Lewis said...

I agree. I too am a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, learning to groom dogs, and quilter. I love to quilt and just as of Monday night set up my blog: bogey and bella's quilts, for my love of quilting and occupying my empty nest syndrome. I agree with you I have only visited your blog this one time and I think it is wonderful.....I hope to be posting things soon and have friends like you....keep up the great work........

Tacey said...

I know this comment is late, but I just found your blog and loved this entry. I have often felt such pressure to keep up with everything that is going on out there in the online quilting community. I wrote about that very feeling in my own blog not that long ago.
For my own enjoyment and (dare I day) sanity, I have had to cut back on the blogs, bees, quilt- along's, guilds etc., that I get involved with otherwise it is just too overwhelming.
Thanks for you thoughts. Your blog is one I will definitely add to my favorites.

Darlene said...

I'm glad you added this link to your post today. I have followed your blog for awhile and really enjoy it. My blog will soon be a year old and I haven't added any sponsors. It is an opportunity for me to share my quilting projects and the other things happening in my life. I quilt because it keeps me busy now that I don't have a full time job. I was laid off in 02/09. I have completed a number of quilt tops and have had them quilted by a couple long arm quilters. Now I just need to get all the bindings done!!

Janine said...

Hi, This is my first visit to your blog and this post and the comments above really resonate with me. When my children were young I was always sewing/knitting/crafting one thing or another but, as you say, life happens. One thing after another got in the way until I looked back and found I hadn't sewn anything for years and I really missed that - all the enthusiasms, frustrations, new learning and satisfaction of making something new and original. I lately came to quilting because I wanted to reclaim all that to my life now but it's a struggle to find time to fit it in. I blog because it encourages me keep making time and I really appreciate the encouragement and support I've had from other bloggers. I also enjoy seeing what other people are doing picking up tips from more experienced quilters. But I'm never going to turn out a quilt a week and, although I love to see quilts that showcase the latest fabrics, I'm not so fond of the type of blog that seems more interested in promoting fabric than the making of the quilt. I love those quilts people make from old shirts and genuine scraps left over from making clothes and household linens and that have a bit of history in them. I'm also very happy to have found your blog - a place in blogland that has made me reflect on the process and where it's ok to say I'm going to hold onto the spirit of what brought me to quilting and blogging and I'm not going to be rushed, so Thank You. I'm going to take your button to my blog and I'll be back to look around yours as and when I have time :)

Cynthia@quilterbynight said...

I read through your entire Quilting without Obligation series the other day and found your words to be very inspiring. Thank you. I have been quilting for 20 years and reading quilting blogs for about 5... and have just started blogging too, just as a way to document the process, and hopefully meet some online quilting friends along the way. I've added your blog to my "blog roll". Thanks!

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