My, how things have changed...

And no, I don't mean in the last six months.  I mean in the quilting world, in the last 10 years.

I've been watching my DVD collection of Simply Quilts episodes.  Oh, but Alex did such a great job of showing us what we could do.  She gave us enough that we could go out and make the quilt she and her guests showed on TV.  Or, find the pattern, or take the class.  Or build the tool.  And, as she did, quilting hit its financial heyday.  We built our stashes of lovely fabrics, collecting them like boys did baseball cards.  Stacks and piles.  'I have one of those.'  'Will you trade me this for that?' 

And, what I learned was technique, color selection, tips and tricks.  And, I made some awful and ugly quilts.  And, I wasn't alone in that.  And, I learned and I practiced and I got better.  I tried different things.  I learned art as well as technique. 

And, then somebody decided that nobody needed to make an ugly quilt anymore. 

And, the solution to that seemed to be that we all tried to make the SAME quilt.  And, something happened to the originality and the art and the technique.  And, it started to be about how closely we could reproduce the image. 

You already know that didn't last long with me.  I try, but I can't follow a pattern.  Oh, I can cut all the pieces the required size and I can piece the sub units and turn them into correctly sized blocks and add sashing and borders, per the recipe.  But, you know that what I end up with will not look like the picture.  (I cain't hep it.) 

And, every so often, I still make an ugly quilt.  And, we laugh and laugh and laugh.  And, donate it.

I had a dentist appointment the other day and had the chance to stop in a quilt shop.  I spoke with the owner about teaching at the shop.  She wasn't interested.  She has a teacher for the things I could offer, and I admire her loyalty and unwillingness to host competing classes.  That's fine.  I believe that having a male quilt teacher is a draw that would bring more people in the store.  Or, not. 

But, after I asked, I started to look around the shop.  I should have done this before I spoke because that quilt shop may not be the best place to showcase what I think I do. 

First, there weren't many store samples hanging.  Most shops keep a rotation of quilts hanging and draped everywhere.  And, of the dozen or so that were hanging, I only remember one that was not either aqua, or orange, or both

Oh, that's not going to work. 

Where were the originality, the variety, and the art?  I love the shop owner.  She and I have known one another for years.  But, for a while, I didn't really shop there much.  I didn't need fabric.  I was sewing through some of that stash that I was convinced I would need (and be able to use up).  Then, I started going in more, for specialty fabrics and large quilt backs.  Things I didn't have on hand.  But, things had changed.  More and more, I ended up buying a little something else, because I hate to leave a quilt shop empty handed, but then going to another shop for what I was really shopping for. 

We diverged.  Don't get me wrong.  She has a cute, well run, organized shop with lots of lovely fabrics and I will continue to shop there as often as  I can. 

But, it might not be the best place for me to try to teach the things I'm good at.  You can bet that before I put myself out there again, I'll look around the walls first and see what that shop is focused on.  I believe I would do best in a shop with lots of variety.  If I had a quilt shop, it would be a cacophony of color and shape.  I'd probably overwhelm shoppers and send them running away empty handed because they couldn't choose just one thing. 

Because I can't choose just one thing.

Right now, there are three quilts that need to be finished and complete the entry forms for a show in March, two BOM's, a partially finished shirt, and two UFO's sitting out in my sewing studio.  The only place I CAN sit is at a sewing machine.  And, none of those projects uses the same colors or shapes.  Not one.  Life is supposed to be infinite variety. 

In one of Marie Bostwick's Cobbled Court Quilt books, there's a story about a new quilter that wants to make the quilt "in the picture" even though it's a fall quilt and her favorite colors are spring pastels.  An older, more experienced quilter tells her that she can't make "that" quilt because somebody else already did.  She needs to make her own quilt. 

That resonated with me because I feel the same way.  I don't want to make the quilt in the picture, no matter how lovely it is.  I want to take that idea and see how far I can take it in my direction; the direction I'm interested in. 

I once told Joen Wolfrom that I wanted to make "every kind of quilt in my lifetime."  She laughed at me and said something that wasn't very encouraging.  But, you wanna know something?  I was well on my way long before I shared that out loud. 

And, the journey continues.

Everybody have a great Friday.  I've had an unnecessarily busy week and am looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. 

Now, bring on the projects.  I've got some sewing to do...for about fifteen minutes til I have to go shower and shave and get ready for another 'rockabilly' day at the office. 

Lord save us all from sameness.



P. said...

Well said, Lane. Brought back memories of me watching Simply Quilts during my noon hour. It was on whatever station, was it PBS?, and I'd run home, make a quick lunch and eat it in front of the TV while watching Alex and her guest. I was just getting the quilting bug then and her show really fueled the fire.

I hope you find your niche there to teach classes. I'd come if I lived closer!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Funny you should mention wanting to "make the quilt in the picture" because I have friends like that. I feel safe in saying that I have NEVER even TRIED to make that quilt!! I look at that photo and think, "Oh! I like that. I'm going to make mine in X and Y color." Keeping on making quilts YOURS, Lane!!!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes teaching isn't teaching but a chance for quilters to come together for inspiration. .....chit chat....and new friendships. If quilt stores always have the same teacher then people get bored. Even Sewing With Nancy spices it up every now and again. I tucked my shirt in today and thought of you. Hope you have a great day. Thanks for the post. Mary

Mrs. Plum said...

Oh, Lane, you could be describing my approach to quilts! When I take a class, I want to learn a technique, not make a cookie cutter quilt. I rarely use patterns, and prefer to design my own. I'm often saddened to see few original designs at shows. I guess it boils down to what one wants from a hobby--LOTS of challenge, or just a little. Thanks for your blog--I enjoy reading it!

Auntie Em said...

I hear ya, Lane. So many wonderful quilts can be made using fabric collections, but I love to pull together my own group of fabrics too. I notice that more often than not bloggers post pictures of their quilts and then go on to say what line of fabric it came from. ( There's nothing wrong with that.)
My local quilt shop owner says that she always has customers who point at a shop sample and say "I want that exact quilt. Do you carry all the fabrics"?
Thankfully, there's room for everybody in this hobby we love so much.