Sunday, April 14, 2013

Designing Design

One of the things I love about teaching (and learning--I ALWAYS learn things when I teach) is giving people a chance to expand their notion of what they can do, especially in creating a quilt that is theirs, and not a recreation of someone else's.    As beginner quilters we, quite logically, do a lot of making quilts like others' as we learn the craft.  But it isn't long before most quilters start to put their own fingerprint on a quilt:  choosing fabrics themselves instead of using a kit, changing a little something about the block or the settings, adding or deleting borders--lots of things that may seem small and not "designer," but which really are the quilter doing her own thing--designing.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not opposed to kits and sometimes I see quilts that are just so "me" in color choices that I covet something just like it, but I also like to tweak things just a bit.  When quilters ask me exactly which fabrics I used to make a quilt I'm flattered that they like the quilt, but I'm also a little sad if they don't have the confidence yet to pull some fabrics out and find something uniquely "them."  That's one of the things I love to do--help them to find their own style, to develop confidence in making choices that will become something unique and expressive of their own style and taste and personality.

In quilters I see people who are just itching to express their creativity and when they have developed just a bare minimum of skills it's time to give them a place to explore new ideas and techniques, to develop some of their own, and to just feel the sheer joy of creating something new and so personal that it expresses you, at that moment in your life, and how you feel.    I can't tell you how many times quilters in my classes, when asked about the first quilt they made, say they did a king-size Double Wedding Ring or some very complex pattern because "nobody told me I wouldn't be able to do that one when I was first starting out."   I did my best custom quilting on my longarm before I knew that I shouldn't be able to do all that right off the bat.

In an ideal world I'd have quilters feel, from the beginning, that quilting is here for them to explore and enjoy, a sandbox in which to experiment and do something "wrong" that turns out to be so right.    Everyone is creative; there are few things in this life about which I'm certain, but that's one of them.   The world tends to try to "teach" the creativity out of us but, trust me, we are ALL creative.  For some of us, that creativity expresses itself in fiber and fabric, and you owe it to yourself to explore your own creative spirit--the expression will be one of joy. 


  1. Deb Ward just sent me your blog - great job! And I hear you're retiring soon. I have to say I'm a bit jealous! Would love to have a chat sometime and catch up to see what sort of post-job plans you have percolating!

  2. Thanks, Wendy! I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to meet/chat at the quilt retreat, but let's plan on lunch or coffee/tea sometime soon! I'm retiring from public employment, but will still be working--as Warped Spinster. :-)