What is it about quilting?

by Nicole

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, telling her about my obsession with quilting.

And after listening, she asks me, “So, what is it about quilting?”

What is it about quilting?!? I don’t know.

Is it the art of quilting that has me hooked?

Is it being able to make something that is aesthetically pleasing, while also practical?

Is it the feeling of accomplishment I get from making something with my hands?

Is it having a tangible product at the end of my work?

Is it the connection to other quilters?

I imagine it’s all of these things and so much more. Whatever it is, I’m loving it!

If you are also obsessed with quilting, how would you answer the question: “So, what is it about quilting?”

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Kathy @ Kwilty Pleasures January 24, 2013 - 12:44 am

For me it is the creative process of a quilters journey, from shopping for fabric, to sewing the last stitch in my projects.

MB in MI January 24, 2013 - 1:15 am

It's tangible, wonderful proof of the gift of creativity–start to finish! (and it's really F U N 😉

MissMary January 24, 2013 - 1:44 am

I'm investing in the future when I quilt – making something that goes on to be an heirloom, a favorite, a piece of family history. I'm connecting to generations of women in my family – sharing in traditions that are as old as time, like favorite recipes or holiday celebrations. It's the whole dang process, an ability to appreciate every single step, a tangible representation of the truth that the best things in life don't come easy, that beauty takes time, that handmade is still more valuable than anything the industrial revolution could produce. Quilting has the capacity to fly in the face of a microwave-and-wireless culture and say a sunset from a porch still matters. And it's the fact that a quilt represents everything good about motherhood – the warmth, the comfort, the security, the endurance, the practicality. I make a lot of things but I love quilting most because no other art form I've found has such richness, depth, and the ability to transcend so many domains (from the art gallery to the crib to the wedding canopy and on…)

cyndiofthevortex January 24, 2013 - 4:06 pm

Excellent answer! This is just how I feel about it, along with creating something that no one else will ever make, a unique creation made by my hands. I love the past and future aspects of quilting. When I'm asked, "Who is that for?" I wonder, who in the perhaps distant future will love this piece I am making? Do we ever really know who we are quilting for? I'm excited at who may come along after me to love a quilt of mine.

Peggy January 25, 2013 - 4:09 am

My answer exactly. Well said!

Cynthia@aquilterbynight February 1, 2013 - 1:20 pm

I agree – so beautifully expressed!

Heather Bassett January 24, 2013 - 1:47 am

For me it is the magic alchemy that finally happens when you finishing the binding, and three layers of fabric have been transformed into one snuggly whole.

Books_Bound January 24, 2013 - 2:09 am

That's a great question! I agree that the practicality is appealing–it combines art and function in a way that I really like. And I like the versatility. Even if you had just two fabrics, you could quilt different quilts for the rest of your life with just those two fabrics (that would stink though!)

Another thing that I like is that there are so many different steps in one project. I don't love every step (really, who likes basting?), but the defined process is something that I enjoy.

And I'd agree with MissMary's comment above: it seems to be something that so many people enjoy receiving. Art can be highly subjective, and I know there is an element of that in quilting too. But people seem to be touched in a very specific way when they receive a quilt. There's that aspect of comfort to it, I guess.

Nice to see you post again. I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't seen a post from you in awhile, and I hoped all was well!

Carla January 24, 2013 - 2:13 am

It appeals to my practical side and satisfies my need to keep my hands busy ; )

MBMathis January 24, 2013 - 3:19 am

It's a tangible way to be creative.

regan January 24, 2013 - 3:39 am

I kindof feel like the kid who gets the BIG box of crayons for his birthday…..you feel like you can make anything! And the fabrics are so beautiful, so the process is wonderful, too! At the end, there is something useful, that's beautiful, and unique. And that I feel a connection to all the women before me, being creative with little scraps of fabric, when sometimes that's all they had! I love that I can take their ideas, and mix them with mine, and create something new! I love that connection to the past!

Heidi Staples January 24, 2013 - 4:44 am

It feels wonderful to be able to create something, to see a product emerge from a process when everything else in my life seems to be a series of endless processes. I love the opportunity to be creative!

CitricSugar January 24, 2013 - 6:15 am

I think it's all of the above but also the simple fact that there are parts of it that are the same all the time – constantly improving on skills – but that the end result is always different and unique, and then there is the infinite opportunity to learn new things with each project. It's something both constant and continually new.

I think I also love that there is a connection between the past and now with the art, the inherent sense of community that came with it into today, and the allure of practical art…. Great question, Nicole!

pandchintz January 24, 2013 - 7:13 am

Great question! I concur with all of what you said and also, I just looooove fabric, buying it, playing with it, sizing up its potential, and making something with it. For me too, quilting has given me the most wonderful gift of friendship – there is nothing nicer than sharing a day of stitching or quilt shopping with friends, solving the problems of our quilts, or the world, sharing hints and tips and lots of laughs, and indulging in our fabrics, quilts and food! I just LOVE it!

Annabella January 24, 2013 - 10:53 am

I've no idea but it sure is addictive!! It's very hard to explain to anyone who doesn't quilt but it's having something very beautiful at the end which I crafted. Just makes me happy!

Katy Cameron January 24, 2013 - 1:26 pm

I think it's a combination of being able to create something, that will have a practical use in the end, and which has fabulous colours to enhance your home decor, plus sewing in general is a great stress reliever at the end of a long working day/week

Leanne January 24, 2013 - 2:38 pm

I like to make things, I like the math, I like the colours, and figuring out how the patterns work. I enjoy the actual quilting part, the sewing the bits together so that they will stay that way and having fun with patterns along the way. I also like the quiet space it give me from the noise of the rest of my life. And I love the quilts I get in the end, to give or keep.

JaneB January 24, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Color, shape, fabric, connection to the past, sharing with fellow quilters, challenges and learning new things, fun, fun, fun . . .

thisyearsdozen January 24, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Great question..

I just learned to quilt two years ago. I love the freedom to be ME. I can combine fabrics and create designs in my head. Visualizing all the beautiful things I can make. And then, with no timetables, no stress, no deadlines.. I can cut fabric for DAYS. Sew for hours. Without taking a break to eat or sleep. I just love how it all comes together. Even hubby is enjoying my learning to quilt. I hear him telling his family and friends about the things I have made. He's a keeper. I hope to never stop quilting.

Donna B

Vicki lOU January 24, 2013 - 5:16 pm

I am just learning to quilt and I am addicted. I have completed 4 quilts and my mind is spinning with the many options for next….let alone the quilts that I have either started or planned. I love the excitement of finding a new pattern and the fun of cutting fabric and the amazement as the quilt starts to form on my living room floor. I love giving quilts to my grandchildren and making color and pattern choices that I think will please them. It's all GREAT!

Barbara @ Nähtante Quilts January 24, 2013 - 5:59 pm

Good question…
– I like the maths in making a quilt
– I like the feeling of accomplishment when I create something with my hands
– I find it relaxing to do something very different and not at all work-related
– I love creating beautiful things for our home and to give to others
– I love colours and beautiful fabric
– I love to have and make unique things (I don't use bought patterns)
– I love the feeling being fed up with manual work after finishing a quilt and planning a new project at the same time… weird, isn't it?

Megan January 24, 2013 - 8:24 pm

I had a grad student interview me a few years ago, when she was writing her thesis on how quilters organize information, and she asked me this exact question. My first response was that I just like to see stuff come together. I like to see the patterns that you can create by cutting apart itty bitty pieces of fabric and sewing them back together again, seeing a finished product emerge from some humble cotton and (cheap) thread, and even throwing a bunch of ingredients together to make soup. It's a way of bringing some order to chaos.

Unknown January 24, 2013 - 10:13 pm

I am new to quilting, and I have high hopes for years of excitement (and frustrations, I'm sure) with each new quilt. Like several other comments above, I like the fabric-matching, math, designs, creating order out of chaos, honing skills and more. Most of all, though, I am excited about the lessons I can teach my daughter as she grows up watching me quilt. First, colors, shapes, and patterns; then, maybe a little geometry; later, greater life lessons (some that I'm still trying to remember myself!) like "finish what you start", "it doesn't have to be perfect the first time", "try again", "practice", "do what you love", "strive for excellence, and imperfections are ok." And quite practically, I love the creative outlet it provides while graduate school numbs my brain sometimes!

Denise January 24, 2013 - 11:23 pm

I'm obsessed with quilting because I'm able to be creative, yet at the same time I able to challenge myself in learning something new about quilting all of the time. I also appreciate the rich history and the bright future of quilting, which is exciting because there are endless possibilities with this craft/art. We all have an opportunity to tell our stories through quilting and and to me there's no better way to connect with friends and family.

Valerie January 25, 2013 - 1:11 am

Hi-I was just going to check in with you, so timely post! Ah, yes, what is it about quilting?! I love so many of the things already mentioned, particularly making something that will never again be duplicated (not even by myself if I tried!), as well as seeing a pattern or idea come together. It almost always looks different than I imagined it would-usually for the better:). One part I really like is seeing a pile of fabric at the beginning of a project, and after a bit of work-bam, it's a usable, beautiful, practical thing. I love it!

creativedawn January 26, 2013 - 7:09 am

At times the process is often daunting, sometimes I rip more than I sew, sometimes I just cannot get it made! What it is about quilting is the look on the recipients' faces when they are presented with a handmade, soft and comfy…made in their favorite colors quilt. That is the "it about quilting" that makes me finish, start over, get her done!!!!!! Yep, the absolute pleasure of those receiving the quilt!


Pennie January 26, 2013 - 4:51 pm

For me, most of what I make is gifted to someone in my family or friends, so it's a tangible expression of all the love I've sewn into it. Also, after the awfulness of last year, I received a lot of support, friendship and generosity from the quilting community, both blogland and quilting friends. So I guess to me, quilting means the giving and receiving of love.

{ HeatherK @ AReformedHeath'n } January 27, 2013 - 12:08 am

I love all those things you mentioned about quilting plus I like the connection of generations of past women I feel each time pick up the needle. My quilts aren't scrappy out of necessity like so many antique and utility quilts, but I love that they paved the way for the amazing fabric artists today.

Vivian January 27, 2013 - 2:16 pm

Everything you stated plus the connections to history when we see and read about old quilts, the satisfying juxtaposition of an "old art" made with so much modern technology (rotary cutters, acrylic rulers, computer software, internet blogs and shopping) and for me a hobby that made it laudable to indulge in addictions to fabric and books!

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