Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why Quilts?

My husband recently got me tickets to go to a quilt show at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery featuring "art" quilts. While I am excited about going, it led to a discussion about the functional quilts versus quilts made as art. Although I admire the latter - I definitely am all about quilts to snuggle in - or under. One of my biggest quilting heartbreaks is a baby quilt I made for my nephew - my own design even - using baby soft corduroy, flannel and a woven fabric of the family tartan - that was put away and as far as I know never used 'because it is too delicate for a child to use'. That's not how I made it - and that's not why I made it.

My Grandma made me a quilt out of recycled clothing and I don't know what else - and I used it, and repaired it, and loved it - for 22 years. I was heartbroken when I returned home after being overseas for 3 years and found the quilt had gotten damp from being too close to an air conditioning vent and mildewed, beyond repair. I salvaged a few blocks from the top - even framing one for my brother who had lost his own "grandma quilt" in one of his many moves, but I think I am still searching for a quilt that has that drape, and weight, and softness that this quilt had. I used it winter, summer, spring, fall - especially when I was sick or upset. It was like a little hug that just wrapped around the small of your back, and encouraged you to tuck up in a little ball to fit shoulders and toes under it's small dimensions. I miss that quilt. I think I will keep quilting and piecing until I recreate it - somehow. It may not look the same, but I will know the right feel when I feel it.

Recently, some members of the Prolific Online Quilters blog ring have introduced me to Mark Lipinski of Quilter's Home Magazine. Although I will admit to never having read the magazine, I think I remember seeing Mark on Simply Quilts when I was first getting started. At that time all the different personalities and experts were a blur, and VERY intimidating, and most of what they said just did not stick. I got most of my quilting information and inspiration through my Lazy Sister Sue, and really did not look out much further than that. Sue has been a font of information with no intimidation and has encouraged my experimentation as I find my own quilting style.

Recently though I have been expanding my horizons, joining the blog ring and Yahoo group, and learning a lot of things from my fellow in the trench quilters. However - a message that Mark put in the latest issue of the magazine, that I read online (look under "read more from Mark about what quilts really are")- really struck home to me - and showed me that this personality, this expert quilter, really gets it. Really understands why I am quilting. And suddenly Mark, and his magazine, have become much less intimidating.

Time to grab my coupon and head to JoAnns and hope the current issue is not sold out yet. Because as valuable as I think Mark's magazine could be - buying it with a coupon means more money left to buy more fabric - and maybe the next combination will be "the one."


Michele said...

I agree completely about quilts wanting to be used. My middle kid has a quilt that my grandmother made - almost entirely out of hospital gowns that she bought at the thrift store!!! I'll try to remember to post a picture later this week, because it really is a lovely thing, despite its humble origins.

Kristie said...

That is exactly how I feel about the quilts that I make. I want people to use them, that is why I make them. My youngest son has a quilt that I made for him and it is truly ready to fall apart. It has a horse on it and he calls it his "horsey quilt" The only time he leaves that quilt is when he goes to school. I think it is the best quilt that I have ever made. I know I haven't made one that has been anymore loved than it has.

Anjeanette said...

I totally agree with you. Quilts are to be loved and used. Being wrapped up in a quilt is like having the arms of the person that made it around you.

It is hard to believe you have been intimidated by quilters. You have amazing talent and skill!

Jen said...

Oh, I so know how you feel. It really hurts when you're so emotionally invested!! I can make quilts for project linus and not care how they're going to be used, just know they'll be loved. But make one for a family member to be used and it's not being used just kills me. I did one of those cross stitch blankets about a labor of love. It took forever. I put warm and natural in it, I put really expensive flannel on the back so it would be just perfect. Satin binding, the whole works. Yeah, I was told it was too nice to use and they'd hang it. They NEVER hung it. I made the thing to be used, not sit in a box. =(

Three Birds Inspired said...

When I read your post, my first thought was "Exactly!" Every quilt I have made is some extension of myself. Thankfully, most of the folks I have made quilts for understand and appreciate that.

Moneik said...

I totally agree with you! Quilts need to be used. I get so mad when a quilt I give is not even used. When I go to someone's house who has one, at least throw it over the bed, so it looks like you're using it! Or have it on the couch to snuggle with, so I can at least see that it's not in a box!