Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when looking at other people’s work? Do you love fabrics, but are not sure what to do with them? Do you have ideas in your head you can’t quite translate with your hands?
In the age of Instagram, it is easy to feel inadequate as a quilter. There are just so many stunning (and stunningly photographed) quilt and patchwork creations out there, and people seem to be producing new things all the time. I know I often feel envious of other people’s creativity and skills, and the speed with which they seem to work. It can be inspiring at times, but also demotivating, as you might feel that whatever you produce, it will never be that good!
This relates to the question of why we quilt in the first place. Maybe you enjoy putting colours together in such a way that they really shine and make your heart sing. Maybe you like making useful and beautiful objects for yourself. Perhaps you find sewing by hand meditative and calming. Perhaps, on the other hand, you love the speed and dexterity of your machine, and the intricate work you can make on it. Many quilters find they are always making personalised gifts for friends and family. Maybe the company of your quilty friends is just too enticing ….
Thankfully, not many of us make patchworks and quilts because we are too poor to buy new things or to heat our houses. On the other hand, few people make quilts only to show them off in shows or on Instagram. You might enjoy sharing them with others, but the act of making them is probably enjoyable enough that it keeps you doing it.
I started patchworking because I wanted to make a unique gift for my sister’s baby. I made a dead simple ‘railroad fence’ pattern in the colours of his nursery, and my mum had to finish it (because I didn’t know how to do that) into a large cushion which my sister used to breastfeed. I made it by hand, because I didn’t have a sewing machine.
That baby gift wasn’t very good or beautiful, but it did allow me to produce something unique. I put thought and effort into a gift for my sister and her baby, and I made it myself.
I enjoy making things for people that are just for them. I can use fabrics or patterns that have meaning for them. Maybe the things I make aren’t all that good. But I just keep sewing on. I’m not really skilled enough for most of the things I want to make. But I make them anyway. I love to keep my hands busy while I watch Bake Off. Maybe my quilts aren’t up to Instagram standard. They’re only really for me and my loved ones.
I sew because pushing a needle through fabric relaxes me. I make patchworks because I love putting colours and patterns together. I quilt because it creates this amazing richness and depth.
My first patchwork fell apart because it had no seam allowances. The next one didn’t. Neither were worthy of Instagram, but I enjoyed making them anyway. And each new quilt is better than the previous ones.