Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quilting Without Obligation {Part 6}

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"Me"... a little wonky on the inside, but still black & white logical

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Whoever said that obviously wasn't imitated often because I'm pretty sure that it doesn't feel like flattery most of the time.  And from the other side, it's not very flattering or creative to be the imitator either...

When I waded into the quilting world, I spent a lot of time being "inspired" by other quilters.  I wanted to make quilts like their quilts.  I wanted to use the fabrics they used.  I wanted to quilt like they quilted.  I devoted a lot of time to browsing and much less to creating.  Eventually, I got frustrated and while I continued to sew, I didn't quilt.  I truly thought that I just wasn't creative.

When I came back around to quilting a few months later, I began to make quilts that I liked.  While I still drew inspiration from other quilters, I spent much more time creating from my own heart and mind.  And guess what?  My creativity sprouted into something I never knew I had. 

When I stopped trying imitate other's creativity, I found my own... amazing and completely without obligation.  I became a happier quilter and in turn, a more creative quilter.  Do I still love to look at the latest trends in quilting?  Sure!  But do I have to run out and frustrate myself trying to make something just like so-and-so's?  Definitely not.

When I look at a quilt I have made, I want to see my own reflection.  My quirks, my shapes, my colors, my values, and even my mistakes.  Uniquely and creatively "me".  I still love quilt-alongs and tutorials where everyone is making the "same" thing.  But the best part is seeing all the finished projects and seeing the unique twist each person puts on the original idea.

If you are a quilter, you are a creative person!  You love color, shapes, angles and all the little things that go into make a quilt.  So don't be obligated to someone else's idea.  Draw inspiration but be yourself because the best quilt is the quilt where you can see your own creativity, passion, and personality.

What is your favorite quilt or project that reflects who you are as a creative person?  I'd love to see it so please share your link!

14 comments:

Shelley said...

Well said Jennifer! I find it so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, and in the process lose sight of what I really love to work on. "Do what YOU love and love what YOU do!"

Lynne said...

As always you get us thinking and I like what you say - I think we have to start somewhere and that may be with someone else's design or pattern and then we start to move away from that to looking for what we really want. I've done that with a quilt which is still a WIP and I will come back to one day when it's finished, I've done it with my DQS current project which is a WIP and still mostly in my mind and awaiting allocation of my partner to make it something they will like and I did it with the union jacks mixed with the whimsy which is what I linked to. I feel like I could go on making these until the cows come home. I didn't design the flag and I didn't think of putting the flag in a quilt and yet the whole whimsy flag and tutorial for the flag from a layer cake felt very personal to me. X

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

You totally said how I feel. At first when I started quilting I wanted to make every Barbara Brandeburg and Terri Christopherson quilt. I wanted to quilt like Mary Mashuta. I wanted to do exactly what they did. Then I started thinking and dreaming quilts and wanted to recreate quilts of my childhood. And eventually I found my niche. My problem now is quilting for others. Quilting for contracts and following their specifications. It still is a creative outlet but I like my freeform, do what I want to do today style. But I also want to be commercially successful. I don't mean to complain. I am blessed and happy to have opportunities but I still feel like you do.

kheli said...

It is not a bad thing to learn by imitatiing. That is actually how the "Great Masters" of art learned. They would apprentice a master of the craft for a while to learn the materials and procee before striking out on their own.

Great topic!

Nadine Saupe said...

well said, ahem, blogged.

I still love browsing the web every day and looking at quilts and fabrics. but I'd like to think that I make my own quilts too and don't just copy.

One of my favorites is this 3D effect wallhanging. I know it's not unique, but I think it is very me.

http://quiltedbliss.blogspot.com/2010/03/tumbling-down.html

Thimbleanna said...

Well Said! I love looking at other designs, but always seem to want to put my own twist on whatever I see. My link in Mr. Linky is from a few months ago -- but my favorite, most recent idea-by-me. ;-)

elle said...

I've been a traditional quilter for years and I'm trying to release my tight grip on old ways and dare to do my own thing. You are very encouraging. I do believe that we really can be more creative as we begin to express it. So I need to identify exactly what I want to do and then ... fly! Great post!

fiberdoodles said...

What a great post! I still find myself buying patterns all to make them look pretty with the other orphans. I'm not much for judged quilt shows but do love a good quilt "challenge". Something judged by my peers.

The link below is of a retreat I attended last fall and in it includes the quilt I made for the challenge ~ a Mardi Gra theme. I apologize you must scroll down a bit before you get to it. It is Number 11, "Let it All Hang Out". If you click on the picture it should enlarge. I like whimsy and this was fun for me. I have never been to Mardi Gra but this is how I imagined it might be.

I made the background fabric; created each girl at different stages in life and Yes, the boobies are padded. So I may continue to buy patterns but I know I can think outside the box.

http://fiberdoodlesandwhimsy.blogspot.com/search/label/Mardi%20Gras

Karen said...

I tried leaving a link but not sure it worked. I really feel this quilt was a great exercise in picking fabrics for me and just lov it to bits. It is still waiting to be quilted.
Link is here http://sewingtales.blogspot.com/2010/03/sew-and-tell-11.html

whatktmadenext said...

I stumbled on your blog via a link from elle's (a few comments up) and I'm so glad I did. This is really something that rings true for me. There is so much inspiration around and I find myself thinking I want to do this, or that or the next thing, purely because everyone else is doing it and it's exhausting.

But so far I've made one quilt from a pattern and everything else has been more inspired by something I've seen in passing online. My fav is this one http://whatktmadenext.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/completed-the-baby-quilt-of-many-redesigns/ . It was originally going to be a Sunbonnet Sue quilt but I don't think I could have ended up with something more different if I'd tried! It's kinda inspired by Oh Fransson's painbox quilt and I love the colours, the fabrics and the modern feel. It's the first quilt that really feels like who I am is coming through.

True Blue Nana said...

I never thought of myself as creative in fact the opposite whatever that would be but quilting is bringing out my right brain. All my quilts at this point are unique, some more than others. Heres to being creative!!

avalanden said...

Well said! Starting out I did the same thing -- constantly looking to other blogs for inspiration and project tutorials I spent so much time doing it, that I never sewed anything. Now don't get me wrong, I still browse blogs today, but with a different purpose in mind. I try to see what others have done and then change the design or sewing method to really make the quilt mine and my put spin on it.

And you're right-- it comes with confidence and time.

madebymonet said...

Thanks for this nice post! I agree--it's hard to be "inspired" without actually mimicking...you've just got to let go and do your own thing!

Anonymous said...

I have been making quilts many years but I'm still struggling among other inspirations.
I hope I can find my confidence more.

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