Friday, October 2, 2015

adding up - why i quilt and what i've learned

after a summer of no quilting and living more deliberately, i think i have a new quilting motto:

if i only make one quilt a year, after twenty years i will have made twenty quilts.

and that's still a lot of quilts, even if it takes twenty years to get there.

 in the beginning of my quilting journey, i bought all the fabrics (and then some), all the patterns, many books, and just wanted to make everything. right away. sound familiar?

in her charming book make & love quilts, mary fons says,

"quilters are impatient people.
to a nonquilter this seems almost laughably wrong. aren't quilters gentle, steady folk who are content to stitch all afternoon in a rocking chair? . . . dedicated quilters are foot-tappers, forever on the lookout for ways to get quilts done more quickly and efficiently for one simple reason:
we want to make our next quilt as soon as possible."

all of which is ironic for a meticulous, time-consuming hobby. as soon as we start a quilt we want to be on to the next one, we can't wait to start another one and usually don't.

wow. that's a lot heavier than it looks. help!

having all those ideas burning in my brain or fabrics i'm just itching to cut into or looking at wips that have been around for a year or two leaves me weary, frustrated, and despairing sometimes. after all, one of my children still doesn't have his own quilt. can't i at least get that done?

the other day i paused in front of the fabric shelf in my bawthroom sewing space and looked at all the fabrics and patterns piled there, probably less than half my stash, and remembered all the quilts they were intended for. i said out loud, "there are anywhere from a dozen to twenty quilts waiting right here. and i'll probably never get them made." the mr. responded that was ok because i was focusing on the things that were most important and that was what i should be doing.

as i pondered this and my summer off over the next few days, i felt more relaxed than i usually would. at first when quilting was so new and difficult, it seemed i'd never get any done. i just didn't have the time. during the first two years of quilting, mostly due to a teeny, tiny addition to the family, i completed only two quilts (here and here), although i started three others (here, here, and here). i knew ladies who made a quilt a month and even some super-efficient quilters, like kelly of my quilt infatuation, who routinely churned out lovely quilts every single week on a regular basis. i felt like i'd be lucky to complete a few a year.

goodness, this is hot and sweaty work holding up this pile!
 well, i've been quilting for nearly five years now and guess what? i have quite a pile of quilts to show for it! if you visit my "quilts" page at the top of the blog, you'll find i've completed 10 full-sized quilts, 13 baby quilts, and a doll quilt. 12 of those quilts, pictured in this post, reside in our home. after gathering them all together to photograph today, and consequently staggering and sweating under the weight of them, i feel pretty good. i have made quilts. lots of them. sure, for every one complete there are 10 more i'm eager to make or most quilters have made 5 times as many. but i already have finished more than i think i could have envisioned 5 years ago.

and we haven't even talked about the quilts that are nearly done or somewhere in progress.

also, now that i know i will get quilts finished, at some rate or another, and that my skill set has improved, which facilitates speed of finish, i find i'm enjoying the process a whole lot more, that i want to slow down and experience it more.

quilts get made.

one stitch, block, top, day, month, year at a time.
they get done.

and my life is a lot more than quilts right now.
thank goodness!
that's a blessing, not an interruption of my hobby.

so, even if i only complete one quilt a year from now on, i'll still have plenty more quilts.

maybe even a gypsy wife someday.

linking up with amanda jean at crazy mom quilt's friday finishes
and sarah's can i get a whoop whoop


  1. What a wonderful post! I too have been quilting for 5 years and so much of what you write resonates with me. You have a new follower; I love your work, m'dear! Happy quilting :)

  2. Truly enjoyed your post. Great perspective.

  3. I can relate to a lot of what you have shared here - seems we both started quilting around the same time too! In the end it is a hobby, one which should relax us and does produce something wonderful too! Your quilt pile is a lovely sunshiny one!

  4. Fabulous post and I couldn't agree more! I've slowed down a lot since I started and there's so many quilts I want to make but I am more focused and slowly enjoying the process so much more. I loved your photos :)

  5. Agree agree agree! I have given myself permission to just be and plod along at my pace. There are those who whizz along and seem to achieve so much more, we love them too, they inspire. But acceptance of where and who we are in life is gold, being true to what we want rather than being pulled in too many directions is wisdom. Now I just pick up the project that grabs me at the time and have put others away so I don't feel overwhelmed, just a few on the boil at any one time. Thank you for articulating what I feel.

  6. This was an excellent read! The idea of quilters being impatient people really resonates with me. I find that I dive into this hobby for a month or two, I finish something and then it just gives me a taste for more, more, more! I tend to go months without quilting only because I get distracted between projects into another absorbing hobby (weaving, gardening, music!). It is certainly not because I have run out of ideas, fabric, dreams ... :D

    Your quilts look delightful. I have given away many of my quilts and I too have a daughter without a quilt! Mind you, she has one on her door, but I feel it's not quite the same thing. And my own bed needs a quilt!

    I think of all these quilts I'm making now as practice for getting the ones at home really just right. Choosing fabrics and colours can be a tricky thing!

  7. Oh, Hydeeann, you are too right, & your quilts are such a joy! I am impatient for your next finish of course, but for now I will make do with your fab posts!

  8. such a beautiful reminder to slow down and enjoy the creating - now if only people would stop having birthdays!

  9. Wonderful words. I can totally relate to the impatient feeling of wanting to get everything done immediately. It's taken a few years but now I have learned to slow down and really enjoy my sewing. I have several long term projects on the go, they will become quilts eventually but there is no rush. I have piles of fabric for projects I intended to do but haven't started yet but some day I will get around to them. And now I enjoy what I have made, I enjoy when I get time to work on new makes and most of all I enjoy living life and never feeling under pressure to get a sewing project finished at the expense of family time.

  10. you are so right! get lost all you prolific quilters and bloggers, lol.

  11. I like your motto :-)
    Sometimes I am surprised that I am really and truly already a quilter! (I thought I wouldn't be one until I was old. Never mind my age... ;-)
    Still, I occasionally have to remind myself that those prolific quilters (generally) haven't been quite so prolific in the child-bearing department ;-) and (usually) aren't homeschooling said progeny, and (probably) don't make all sorts of things (food, medicines, etc) from scratch, and thus, have more hours available at the sewing machine than some of us have....

    That is a *very* pretty pile of quilts!!

  12. Good on you! I enjoyed reading your post, and can relate to it too. As quilters, we are often much too hard on ourselves, aren't we? As you have rightly done - congratulate yourself on ALL those lovely quilts that you have completed, don't focus on the ones you haven't. Yes, you will get more done, but remember, it isn't a competition!

  13. Love your motto! I had the same feeling as we were moving into the house this summer. How am I ever going to use all of this fabric that I love? Our home with two people has six quilts, one of them not made by me. I've recently come to the same conclusions: no I won't be able to make ALL the quilts, but I want to enjoy making all of the quilts, even if it is just one a year (maybe more with those cute adorable baby quilts I can never seem to avoid).
    Also, love all of these adorable photos of you! You always look fabulous and the quilts just add additional depth and warmth.


  14. I resonate with what you talked about being a new quilter and having so many projects you want to complete. I have just started quilting and have completed 1 quilt. I have several more on my to do list. Thanks for the encouragement


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