Coming to you live, from London!

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I’m in London, and you’d think I’d be thrilled. But instead, I’m sitting in my hotel room with a raging headache, ready to go home. This is my second time in London in four months, and while that might sound great, it really IS just one big headache. I’m not here for fun, I’m here to work. Fortunately, I don’t work round the clock. Sadly, my body decided that it didn’t want to cooperate, so I’ve been fighting a migraine and cold since before I ever even left Houston. It doesn’t make for very pleasant travelling, but I’m trying to enjoy myself. It just so happened that tonight, I had a free evening, so here I am, laying in bed pouring my heart out to you …

But that’s not the real reason why I’m writing today. First of all, I said I would try to post here more often, and my goal is to post at least once a week. Since I last posted on January 2nd, I figured today was as good a time as any. And besides, I have something on my mind that’s quilting related. It might make some people mad, and it might cause some people to unfollow me, but it’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time, and now I just really want to say something about it. So here goes …

I’ve been reading several blogs over the last several months – some of them on a regular basis, some of them only once or twice. Almost all of them have photos of “quilts” that someone has made, or other crafts they’ve done, and I will say that I admire anyone who’s willing to put themselves out there like that. Everyone should be proud of what they do, and if they aren’t an expert at something, I feel they should acknowledge that and then resolve to do better next time, whether it’s to themselves, or their readers. And then I REALLY hope to see some improvement in what they do in the future.

Sadly, in internet world, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Rather, it seems like people call themselves experts, or proclaim to have some wonderful knowledge of a craft, but then fall short of exhibiting said knowledge. For example, let’s take quilting. I am not a person who feels like someone has to take classes in person (or even online) to learn how to quilt – I myself have never taken a lesson, and I taught myself from a book. And I like to create my own designs, make them, and share them here and with my friends and family in real life. Most of them are very simple – I see no need for every quilt, every design to be complex. But I am baffled by the number of people I see on blogs who sew fabric together with no idea of what they’re doing, and call it a quilt. What they are doing is making a blanket, but I don’t see how they can call it a quilt when there is nothing to indicate that it is in fact, a quilt.

Recently I ran across a blog written by someone who claimed they were “designing one of a kind quilts like your grandma wished SHE could make!” Ummm … if either of my grandmothers had ever quilted, I’m pretty sure neither of them would have considered what this person was doing, quilting. Not a crazy quilt, not anything with a design or even a plan one could imagine, these were huge pieces of fabric sewn together haphazardly and then backed with a sheet. There was no batting, no attempt at quilting the two sides together, nothing that I could look at and say, Yep that’s a quilt. I’ve seen many such attempts by people, some with batting, others with quilting or an attempt at quilting, but I still don’t really consider them quilts.

I have no problem with creativity or with coloring outside the lines, but it’s obvious how some of these bloggers write (and by the pictures they post) that they have no idea how to make a quilt. And they shun the idea of learning anything about traditional quilting because “that’s not my style.” Well, it may not be your style, but what harm could it do to learn traditional techniques before you start trying to bend rules you don’t even know exist??

Despite the way this sounds, I’m not a quilt snob (though I might be a fabric snob; my husband says I am, anyway). I don’t knock people for trying new things, or doing things differently than I do. But I do have a problem with people calling their work a quilt when it clearly possesses nothing more than two or more layers of fabric sewn together in whatever way they imagine on the spur of the moment.

You can call it a style or you can call it creativity, or you can even call it beautiful. But the truth is, there are many blogs that claim to be about quilting that I wouldn’t read simply because they lack technique. Slapping two pieces of fabric together and sewing a 1″ seam (that, by the way, is visible on the outside of the quilt) doesn’t make it a quilt. It isn’t modern, it’s sloppy, and I’m tired of folks hiding behind the “modern” or “contemporary” label to explain their poorly constructed/designed projects.

Not everyone has to make traditional quilts for them to be quilts. I’ve seen some beautifully done contempoary designs that are breathtaking, and they are clearly quilts. But I do believe that in order to make true quilts, one needs to understand the “rules” of quiltmaking. Then, once they understand and can employ them, one can bend or even break the rules without creating something that looks like an object Goodwill would reject!

Before Prozac, there was quilting

I have been trying to avoid making New Year’s Resolutions when it comes to quilting, because it’s inevitable that they will get blown out of the water. Real life intervenes, and before I know it, I’ve missed several resolutions and it makes me feel pretty bad. This year I decided not to make quilting resolutions, but it’s hard to resist the temptation … so maybe if I decide on just a couple of goals, I might find some success. If I don’t succeed, I might find myself searching for the Prozac! But still, I think that making sure I set aside some time for me – to quilt, spend time with those I love, pursue some photography, read – might help me avoid a therapy bill. So, in no particular order, here are my quilting goals for the year.

Turn the three quilt tops I’ve already made (one of them has been done since my daughter was about 10; she’s now 18) into real quilts. Sandwich, quilt and bind them before year’s end.

Finish piecing Chris’s quilt, get it quilted and bound before year’s end.

Make a quilt for my mother for Christmas this year.

Make the Craftsy Block of the Month quilt – which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. It is a mystery quilt (never done one of those) and it uses some very contemporary patterns (nope, not that either). Should be fun. Can’t wait to get started when I return from London. Maybe this goal can be combined with the one above. 😀

Design a quilt and piece it.

Take a machine quilting class.

Go to the Quilt Festival in Houston next fall. I haven’t been in about four years, so I’d like to see what new things are out there.

Blog here more.

I’ll try to remember to check in at least once a month on these goals to see where I am, and to keep me in line. Last year, I failed miserably, but I think it’s because that “plan” was way too ambitious. This year, I want to try to keep it simple and see if I can do better. Wish me luck!