Friday, August 18, 2017

Finding Your Sweet Spot In Quilting Pt. I

1930's & 40's Large Vintage 
Log Cabin Top--Hand Pieced

August 4, 2017 quietly marked Pink Doxies' 3 year blogiversary. I spent the day volunteering at the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale in the Quilter's Corner. (Did you know this is an annual even happening the same weekend every year?)

It was a humbling experience to help sort and display bin after bin of vintage items, fabric, quilt tops, tatting, lace, and embroidery among the thousands of items for sale. 

Clean and Pressed

Many items had been donated locally, and trusted they would find the right home while also benefiting MCC. Yes, soon I will show you several things I bought myself besides the log cabin top above. If you're a vintage buff, you will swoon! 

Feedsack Yardage

(Want a peek at the quilts that were auctioned off this year? Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale & Auction: Quilts Two of mine slipped in there unknown to me beforehand. Can you find them?)

Things I NEEDED!

Looking at the pile of things I carted home clarified questions I had been asking myself this summer: If I was in love with vintage quilts, what was I doing in a Modern Quilt Guild?

I came to a realization: I am a self-proclaimed contemporary quilter completely surrounded with my vintage style. My home is more contemporary, but filled with aged things. I have always valued vintage and antique. Old furniture, linens, feed sack, pottery, and china are what I want around me. I am the collector--the saver, the Keeper of all family things that are old and important. I treasure and adore my stack of late 1800's-1940's quilts. So why do I ascribe to being a contemporary quilter? 

The questions were ones that deserved even more thought, and I had already spent most of the summer thinking about. A small answer came while looking at my earliest quilts from 4 years ago. The first quilts were ones I was driven to make without thinking about their color scheme or pattern or what I would do with them. They were passion-driven projects. Check the Pink Doxies' Quilts Page to see many. You will find I was drawn to quilts constructed from strips: Log cabins, concentric squares, strings, and so on. The scrappier the better. While I was a new quilter without a scrap stash, I cut up my good fabric to use as such. Sometimes I copied the color exactly as I had seen it, and other times it was what I had on hand. Over the years my go-to-color palette moved from saturated brights to hand dyed to vintage and reproduction prints. I even found I loved the mix of old and new in the same piece. I could not make up my mind as I found a new appreciation for all kinds of fabrics! (I even joined a group of people who spend time researching and studying fabric. Several of my friends snickered when I told them, but it was like finally finding my tribe. Maybe one will even collect pieces of old double knit polyester like I do!)

Was I an attention deficit quilter dabbling all across the quilting styles or was I searching for my sweet spot? 

I am a firm believer in pushing boundaries, and have often said we need to push through our comfort zones. Goodness, I feel like I have moved mountains! This is not where I thought I would find myself, but I can see the full circle I have come. 

I will always need things to create an emotional response. I am passionately drawn to originality! I want to see work that makes me smile, and be excited and curious why the maker today or a century ago spent hundreds of hours to make it. Was it from necessity only or did she also have something creative she needed to express? I want to read her story in her quilt. And if I, too, fall in love with it, I want to create work in that same style to understand.

I will end here today, but take up the next post to continue the story. My conclusion surprises even me! See you then.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.
Make something you love today!


Linda Swanekamp said...

So, I am sitting here thinking before I saw your blogpost, how do I write about my quilting philosophy/motivation/style/where I want to be. And then I read your post. You did a pretty good job explaining things. I am trying to hammer out my thoughts, but I am a crummy writer- I can see it in my head, but communicating clearly is hard. All summer I have been deliberating about where I need to go instead of being driven by needs/responses. Maybe I should make an attempt to write it in a post.
I can't believe such a marvelous sale.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Looks like it was an awesome sale. I hope you found a few items. ☺

PaulaB quilts said...

You always get me to thinking about my own view of Quilting. I started by collecting antique Quilts, my first one being pre-Civil War, as I found by doing much research. I have given many a good home and learned from them - fabrics, styles, colors in order to date them. I colllect and research every type of antique I collect. Curiosity is my driving force. After 20 years I finally made my first quilt and after that one, each was an original expression of an idea. I'm back to that creative effort again. It is so intellectually satisfying. That's what struck me in your thoughts, creativity, not a particular style.

Kate @ Smiles From Kate said...

A belated Happy Blogaversity, but to be honest your blog is so great I thought you had been blogging much longer than that. I can see why you couldn't resist the log cabin,it's beautiful and deserves to be saved. After over ten years I still haven't found my style of quilting, I used to be very traditional, but that was before I discovered the online quilting community, I went from bright to traditional, japeneses taupes and back to brights in fabrics and I'm still changing as I'm turning away from solids back to tone on tone. Quilting is ever evolving, that's why I never get bored with it.

Unknown said...

Your entries are #49 and #99......of course I could find them. lol

Afton Warrick said...

Oh man! You've "To Be Continued" us. Awaiting the next dramatic episode...

Rebecca Grace said...

You know, that's why I couldn't bring myself to join my local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. I didn't want to feel like there was a box around what I could or couldn't make, didn't want to be worrying about whether I was modern enough, or whether they'd kick me out of the guild if they ever caught sight of my needle turned applique. But I'm not into antique or reproduction quilting, either. So I've come up with a new category of quilting, just for me -- it's CONTEMPORARY quilting, and it's what quilters have already been doing for hundreds of years, way before anyone thought about putting a label on their personal style. Contemporary quilting means you get to make whatever you want, using whatever inspiration or materials are available to you TODAY. That means you can use Civil War or 'Thirties reproduction fabrics, vintage feed sacks, batiks, hand dyes, and wild Kaffe Fassett prints, all in the same quilt if you feel like it. You can do improvisational piecing, or you can make any of the gazillion blocks that have been around forever. You can hand stitch, machine stitch, machine embroider, quilt however you want... Embellish with whatever you want, imbue your quilts with reflections on the world you live in, or with your dreams of what you hope the world could be. Because that's what quilters were doing in 1864 and in 1925; they were creatively making use of ALL of the materials and inspiration that were available to them. All those red and green applique quilts happened because those happened to be two of the most stable cloth dyes available at that time. Just imagine those 19th century quilters traveling in a time machine to a modern quilt show. Naturally they would want to incorporate some of our new fabrics, threads, and design aesthetics into their own work. That's just how creativity works. So I think that when quilters try to "identify" as either Modern or Traditional, both of those extremes are artificial and stifling to creativity. Just make stuff that makes you happy!

And your vintage log cabin top makes me VERY happy! :-)

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh my .... be still my heart - that log cabin is Ah-Mazing!! and all the linens, and I want to see the top you have on top of the log cabin - and oh my - I totally would have gone broke!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh ps - I clicked on one quilt that I thought was yours on the sale page - an Bam! I was right - ha ha

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

I was with you until you got to the polyester !

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

Looking st the other comments I really agree with Rebecca Grace . I like to think of myself as contemporary. I love the old quilts and like you am the keeper of old family "stuff" but I love clean modern lines too many