Monday, April 13, 2015

Thoughtful Comments

I wanted to acknowledge and share some very insightful comments left on my previous post about Quilt Con trends. I had asserted that, "Traditional quilt shows typically praise the merits of near-perfection, pristine points, meticulous detail, and the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible through countless hours of painstaking effort coupled with years of experience over all other aspects; modern quilts are valued more for their ability to evoke a response through a dramatic original design." (Please note that Quilt Con photographs are for the sake of visual beauty, rather than to illustrate the points being made.)
Christa of Christa's Quilts referred to this emphasis on design when she wrote, "I loved the quilts of QuiltCon because you could really see the heart and soul that went into each of them. I enjoyed viewing so may original compositions and appreciate that there was such an emphasis on aesthetics and design."
Without further ado, I'm going to share some lessons I learned from  the awesome folks who drop by my blogging home. I have taken brief experts from the comments to highlight specific realizations I have come to based on their insight, but I encourage you to read the full versions at my original post.
1. Appreciate the work of others.
What I happen to notice is that if I could be only 5% as good as these quilters then my life would be complete.
2. As Angela Walters says, "Don't forget the purpose of your quilt."
What if your point is not to have perfect points, even quilting, or always tied and buried threads? Would you judge a Gee's Bend quilt the same as you would the picture perfect quilts at the International Quilt Festival? There is a difference between sloppiness, indifference, or a lackadasical attitude and innovation, creativity, and invention. Of course, all is in the eye of the beholder, and one person's trash is another's treasure. For me, if I see a quilt that evokes an emotion, then I'm not all that interested in picking all the technical details apart. If someone sings a moving song with heart and obvious emotion, it doesn't matter if they are Whitney Houston or Celine Dion - if it touches you, you enjoy it. I enjoy my creations, and hopefully other people do, too. In the end, my creations are meant to comfort, provide warmth, and be laid on by dogs. Keepin' it 100! I guess I'm in it for the fun and experience, not the glory or the recognition. Though, those would be nice, too. :) In conclusion, if the judges at QuiltCon were looking for perfection, they might not have had so many spectacularly designed quilts, and I'll take interesting over boring any day...
3. Improving your technique is never wasted.

I have spent the last many years learning from better quilters than I and understanding the aspects that make quilts able to withstand a child dragging it around for years; going through many washings and a lot of tears as they face life.
For myself, I "think" I am more of a modern quilter than traditional, in that I love loads of negative space and bright colours, but then, my quilt designs tend to be based on more traditional blocks, albeit altered in some way or other, so am I modern or not I wonder? I do however bury my threads and put proper bindings on!
4. Competition, whether modern or traditional, subjects your work to public scrutiny.
I think there is a huge difference between the quilts I would do for cuddling by family and friends and those I would offer up for judging by peers.
Like you, my attitude is generally one of appreciation whenever anyone shares their quilt with me, in person, at a guild meeting or on their blog. And I can find something to love about any quilt, new or old, whether it's the design, the use of color or beautiful craftsmanship. But, given the thousands of quilts that were submitted to QuiltCon, I do wonder why the jurors for this (inter)national exhibit weren't able to select quilts with both exceptional Modern design AND good technique for this showcase?
What application have I derived from this? Here goes:
  • Pretend the quilt's maker is standing right behind me when I make commentary about a quilt. After all, it's quite possible. You know the phrase, "If you can't say something nice..." (Judges are exempted from this rule, and optimally provide useful critique while still being nice.)
  • Remind myself that others' opinions or my quilt's failure to receive professional accolades does not depreciate the value of my quilt or its personal meaning.
  • My quilting can always improve, but i's my choice how much perfectionism I want to apply to my work.
  • If I'm going to enter a competition, I'd better bring it. I also need to realize that no matter how much awesomeness I bring to the table, my quilt isn't going to be for everyone. As they say, "Different strokes for different folks," and "You can't please them all."
That should be enough cliches for one day, so I'll close by saying thank you to everyone for your thought-provoking and varied perspectives.
Follow on Bloglovin
post signature


  1. In terms of judging technique, it may be difficult to tell that from a couple of photographs of the quilt. Particularly issues like poor binding may not be visible in a photo.

    I really have enjoyed the commentary on the quilts at QuiltCon - the emphasis on design has made me what to be more intentional in thinking about overall design and less focused on individual blocks.

  2. This certainly is a thoughtful post. I enjoyed reading it.