Breathing new life into old patterns
What comes to your mind when I say “quilt?” Do you see sweet little grey haired ladies gathered around a table, or working at a frame that’s suspended from the ceiling? Do you imagine your mother, or grandmother hand-piecing little patches of fabric into a recognizable design? Do you picture yet another double wedding ring quilt, like the one on your Great Aunt Tessie’s bed? While all those traditional visions may still be true, there is another side of quilting I’d like to talk about.
Quilting can be a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be the medium by which to express care and kindness to a friend in need. It can be the language in which you tell a battered woman and her child that someone cares. It can be the love that wraps a sick newborn. It can be the soft and warm way the mother of a fallen soldier remembers her baby.
A quilt can also be part of a celebration. It can mark the passing of time as a gift to a friend on her birthday. It can hold all the signatures of the guests at a wedding and all their well wishes for the future of the happy couple.
Quilting can be a mode of self expression. Through colour and texture, movement and flow, we can make a quilt sing with joy, or scream in anger. For those of us that just happened to wander into the quilting world in search of the next crafty thing, and then found ourselves completely smitten, quilting is all those things and more. Quilting is our therapy, our go-to feel good activity that trumps all chores. When we are cutting apart beautiful fabrics, and sewing them back together (doesn’t that sound completely insane?) We are the happy people we were created to be.
The world of quilting has evolved so much from the times when a woman pieced together whatever was left from household sewing in order to keep her family warm. These days we can walk into a quilt shop and see so many prints right at our fingertips, the possibilities can often be overwhelming. We even have men who’ve been bitten by the quilting bug! Quilting is no longer something that only older women do. I love being part of such a diverse craft.
I truly love traditional patterns, but I also enjoy finding new ways to add interest and a new spin to those blocks that are so familiar to us. Whatever sparked your interest in quilting, I hope you can find your own voice. Because I think that’s what being a “modern” quilter is all about. It’s not necessarily about negative space, or the use of grey as a background colour. It’s not about points that’s don’t match or wonky stars. Being a modern quilter is about being the quilter you want to be. If you feel confined by the old rules, try letting go of the idea that your quilt blocks have to be set in a grid. Challenge the idea that your colour choices have to fall in certain spots on the colour wheel. Point some of your flying geese in the wrong direction, just to make people take a second look! Break some rules! Find your own voice. Traditional patterns help us to connect with our rich history, and bring all we’ve learned from the quilters who came before us, into our modern, ever changing world. Now let’s see where we go with it.. The possibilities are endless!