Quilt vs Quilter

A little while ago, over on Instagram, there was a rash of #quiltvsquilter – where people compiled a 9 grid of images of their makes that they think reflect who they think they are as a quilter.  I tried to make one myself, but then I felt like it was too much jumping on the band wagon, so I never posted it.

And then the New Bloggers Hop happened in blog world, and I was watching all the new, excited bloggies introducing themselves, and the best intros *also* had a bit of a summary about what makes really reflected their style and it has bumped my butt into gear.  I *want* to answer the question and try to define me as maker - a little bit at least.

                So who am I as a quilter???

I love my low volume. I think that’s really clear. Both from my makes and from my fabric stash – it’s really hard for me to pass by low volume bolts without getting *just a little* to take home with me.  My low volume stash takes over more space in my sewing room than any other category.  And if I decided to split it and separate out the text fabric that could probably have a cubby of it's own.  Low volume has my heart #lowvolumelove

Arboretum Quilt made with the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild 

I also love colour. Big, bold, bright colour.  Amongst all the low vol love there are broad brushstrokes of colour. More blue than I thought I would be, as I never thought of myself as a *blue* person.  When I took the time to actually *look* at my makes what pops out at me is green and pink and blue and hints of purple. There is very little in the oranges, yellows or reds... I'm not sure if the challenge in this is to push myself to make/buy more red, yellow and orange or to accept that they're not where my heart lies... I'll have to sit on this for a while I think. No matter what, there will continue to be lots of colour in my life and my quilts.
**As an aside, I think it's hard to know why we pick the colours we pick.  Is it because I'm making baby quilts and therefore of course there's lots of blue and pink, or is it fabric availability? I feel like I read someone where once that there are more different shades of blue fabric printed than any other... I can’t remember where I read that, but my stash bears it out. Or is it emotional - being drawn to certain colour combinations based on an underlying (perhaps not even acknowledged) mood..

Jewelled Swoon

I like scrappy!! Who would have thought!! Certainly not me! I thought I liked classic elegant planned... turns out, that, while, yes, I do like a plan, that plan includes an element of "scrappy"  I'm not into a full scrappy-scrappy but a curated scrappy, where each scrap is chosen with care.  I don't know if I'll ever make a proper scrap vomit quilt, because for me, that might be taking it too far, but I like a good mix of fabrics in a top and I don't want them to all be one designer or one line. I want variety.  I think I worked out that I aim for around 13 different fabrics per top… That’s insane.  But as someone really smart once said – matching one specific red is really hard, matching a group of different reds is much easier.

Irish Fields

I avoid solids. This I wouldn’t have picked when I first started quilting, because I was very much “find a pretty fabric and then the coordinating solids”. Now I find the pretty fabric and the coordinating prints, which might not seem like a big difference, but it really is. My solid stash is minuscule and I while they slip in here or there, I really only dive into the pile when hunting for backgrounds.

I like details… I know that I’m too lazy to really do this properly, so my detail blocks are often small and are not repeated, although they can be surrounded by other detail blocks, into a glorious busy-ness (but not too busy because I *don’t* like that. I still want my quilts to exude a sense of calm or quiet or welcome, which too much busy gets in the way of). But I like little intricacies and oddments.

I love a jigsaw puzzle quilt, where the blocks are various sizes and having to find the right homes for things to go together and flow. I like being able to slip snippets of colour or favourite low volume pieces into gaps to bring things up to a useable size or to make something I might have mis-cut or mis-sewed fit.   Those little surprises make me so happy. I think this is part of the love of little details that I put above, and yet it's also it's own specific love that I think reflects *my style*

Sneak peek of some secret sewing

I also like simplicity - which feels like it goes against the last two points, but let me try to explain. I don't mean "simple" like super modern quilts with clean lines and crisp edges and block colours and stripped back to essential elements... They can be cool, but they're not me. 
I want my quilts to feel like all of it's pieces belong together: like the fabrics and the patterns/blocks/pieces somehow organically merged together - like they belonged together from the beginning and I just facilitated it. I don't want my quilts to be "contemporary" and be all angles and points.  I don't like my quilts to be confronting. I don't want to make statement art (although I do love it when other people do it).  I want my quilts to have a sense of calm and peace (even when making the crazy chaos of jigsaw quilts).  I guess I'm trying to articulate the vibe... always a difficult proposition.

One thing that is not reflected in my photos, and that I hadn’t really realised until I was typing this up, is that I love my hand quilted quilts. I talk myself out of doing it a lot because: it’s time consuming; it's labour intensive; I have too many tops and don’t have time to hand quilt them all; fancy long-arm quitting is so much more complex and detailed; and sometimes it seems hand quilting will be overlooked so it's not worth it… but actually I think I love my hand quilted ones the most.  And even though the stitches aren't fancy or "designed", they are the ones I reach for to snuggle up into, and that evoke memories of making. 


Well that was a big ramble but it has in fact caused a few epiphanies for me.

First and most important: I need to embrace the hand quilting.  Recognising that those are the quilts I love the most is a good prompt for me to try to prioritise the hand quilting I have going and make it necessary rather than thinking of it as a time filler or a time suck.  Also, I am hopeful that this give me permission to think of hand quilting as an option before I go to my default of sending it to a longarmer. Yes: I said give myself *permission* because I know I often berate myself for even considering hand quilting when actually I should embrace it.

The second thing I'm taking away is to embrace the scrappy vibe.  I do it with low volume and I am moving toward it with my colours.  I'd love to look back on this and see that element of my quilting bloom.

And the third thing is that I love what I make.  That may sound obvious, but there are things I have made that I haven't loved.  Or things I put on the list because of other people (let's be honest: it's usually gifts), but that I don't like.  When I follow my heart, I almost always end up with something I love.  And I need to remember to honour that.

How about you?  How do you see yourself as a quilter?  When you step back and think about your favourite makes is there something that stands out to you?

E xx