Experience Freedom in Quiltmaking: One Quilter’s Musings


A few weeks ago the speaker at our quilt guild was a local shop owner.  Her presentation was excellent, and she showed many quilts.  Several quilts were accompanied by touching stories, which I always find charming.  It’s nice to know what prompts a quilter to sew, or to know what took place during the time a quilt was being made.

One of the things that was shocking to me was a response to several questions she asked.  For example, “Who made a quilt out of XXXXX pattern?”  Or “Who bought the XXXX line of fabrics or the XXXX Jelly Roll to make a quilt?”  For each time she asked a question like that, a lot of hands went up.  I don’t mean just a few.  I mean a LOT!

I have been to many quilt shows in our part of Michigan where it is obvious that a quilt group has worked on the same pattern.  Rows after rows of displayed quilts feature the same pattern in different colors.  Or even the SAME exact color settings!  I also see many quilts that use ONLY fabrics from one designer’s line in whatever quilt they have made. These tell me several things.  One, the guild probably brought in a workshop teacher where students had to make his or her pattern. Two, students are encouraged to use a particular line of fabrics.  Three, there is a serious lack of originality in this group of quilters. 

I will agree that when a designer creates a line of fabrics, they (usually) all coordinate nicely.  Putting only fabrics from one line into a quilt provides assurance that the colors and designs work great together no matter what pattern is used.  But the creative quilter who has a sense of freedom to explore may choose several fabrics from one line and ADD TO THEM from their stash of from their local quilt shop (LQS) collection, making the quilt truly unique. 

When a designer creates a pattern from his or her quilt which is for sale or to be used in a workshop, there is nothing wrong with making the quilt as the designer planned.  But there is such freedom and – I’ll say it – glee – when you can take parts of the pattern and add to or change it up to create a blend of your ideas and theirs.  The quilt in my last post was made this way.  The center portion of the quilt was designed by and included a workshop by Karen Kay Buckley.  I loved her pattern, but I used scraps from my own stash.  I used the applique design as the center of a somewhat medallion setting.  I like how the colors and setting work together, and as I sit and hand quilt this 60 x 60 inch quilt, I like it even more.

You can go back and visit my quilt “Purple Reign” in the post shown here. 

I encourage all quilters to allow themselves the freedom to make their own choices.  Please YOURSELF.  Allow yourself new opportunities to experiment with your quilts.  Try designing your OWN pattern or setting.  Be unique.  Be an inspiration to others.  You are more talented than you know!