» Why I Quilt

February 14, 2018

Berkeley Blue Quilt in Red batiks (fabrics by Alison Glass)

Shortly after starting Blue Underground Studios I was giving a talk at a guild meeting and I asked the members why they liked to quilt. There were the various expected answers such as “I love fabric” or “I learned it from my mother.” But there was one woman in the group that evening – she was straight faced and looked very serious – who piped up after all of the others and said loudly “I quilt so I don’t kill people!”  She said this without even cracking a smile and immediately everyone burst out laughing.  It was a funny answer, to be sure.  However, there was probably an element of truth there.  Quilting (and all other creative pursuits for that matter) can save us in a sense….both individually and collectively.

I was lucky enough to grow up creating and watching others create. All of the people who were closest to me in my life and whom I admired and loved the most expressed themselves creatively in one way or another – I was exposed to cooking, some serious piano playing, needlepointing, embroidery, painting, spinning, weaving, woodworking, garment sewing, amateur decorating, knitting and quilting (of course). Creating was second nature for these people. So I developed my own sense of creativity and began to make things too.  It wasn’t until I was an adult, however, that I started giving serious thought to WHY I make things.

I was first inspired to sew because I loved the fabrics and the end result. Having a hand-made quilt to decorate your bed with and snuggle under was my idea of heaven. Being able to make that quilt myself was an added bonus. As I grew as a quilter, I developed a big love for color and pattern.  Then in high school I had an awesome geometry teacher. Thank goodness for this.  I went to a very small school that did not have the option of taking art and music at the same time. I chose music because at that point, I did not consider myself to be a very artistic person but I could sing well enough. I also thought that I was bad at math. Geometry changed all of this, thankfully.  I’m still baffled by trigonometry but not bad at math as a whole!

This all having been said, part of the overall reason that I quilt is because it has become a habit in a way. It is a habit that I dearly love. I also seem to need to create things in order to feel a sense of balance. I don’t always need to be making a quilt.  I also love to cook and bake, knit, organize things in my house, play the piano, paint, and draw.

But the reason for quilting or creating on any given day is fluid. It changes frequently and it depends on what is going on in my life at any given time.   Sometimes I am driven to work with a certain color – like this past weekend.  All I could think about was sewing on some reds and corals after I started a book about the history of red. Earlier that week I was sewing together my LOFT quilt working against a self-imposed deadline (working simply to finish something is a valid reason to create, too!).  Sometimes I need some fabric therapy. Other times I am looking to make a design that tells a story.  This could be with color, or with the graphics of design or both. Or, maybe I want to make a quilt to comfort someone.  It all depends on what is going on at the time and often it is for more than one reason.

I often think back to the woman at that guild meeting and I wonder if she is still quilting away. Why do you quilt? Is it therapy? Is it because you love fabric? Is it your profession? I’d love to hear!


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