Sunday, 9 November 2014

Modern Quilting, Modern Women

Crystal of Two Little Aussie Birds is running a series of interviews with prominent female quilters on her blog - take a look, it's really interesting getting to know the women behind the quilts.

She is also running a link up so that the rest of us can share a little about ourselves and what it means to be a modern, female quilter.  So here are my answers to her questions.

1. Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.
I started quilting in 2009.  My mother had unsuccessfully tried to get me to learn how to sew as a teenager but I staunchly refused, considering sewing something far too domestic and girly for me to be doing as a young feminist.  I avoided the sewing classes at school (no such luck with the typing classes but more of that anon) and was a bit smug about this.  However, as I entered the workforce I discovered that touch typing was possibly one of the most useful skills I had learned and started to regret my earlier attitude to sewing.  As I got older I became more interested in hand sewing and embroidery but it took me until 2009 to accept I wanted to learn how to sew.  I think the final straw was that I was involved in making a block for a wedding quilt for a friend and all I could manage to my shame was fussy cutting out a nice piece of material as a block and my mother in law helped me with this!  I loved the idea of quilting though and so decided I would learn how to sew by making quilts.

A google search put me in touch with my first teacher when I realised my limitations.  Trish has been a wonderful teacher, mentor and friend and it was her who introduced me to the modern aesthetic.  After meeting her I discovered the local modern quilting group through a magazine and started chatting with them online.  Once I got my hooks into modern quilting there was no stopping me!  I have become very involved in modern quilting facebook groups, swaps and bees, have been introduced to Instagram (@Jemimaquilts) and of course started a blog and then my own facebook page pretty early on in my journey.  I love the fact forums like the facebook groups allow a supportive place for people to discuss and share their ideas and creations and places like pinterest are an organic encyclopedia of ideas and patterns.  If  it had been a time when all I was exposed to what was going on in Australia, or even just Perth, I think I would be in a rut by now.  Instead I feel I am just on the tip of the iceberg with so many avenues to explore thanks to our global quilting family.

2. What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman? 
To me, any woman who has ever created quilts in the style of their day and community were and are modern quilters.  It was refreshing to me to discover that quilting was indeed still moving with the times too because I really found that after reading a few more traditional magazines, browsing more traditional fabrics and trying to make a traditional item or two, I was getting pretty depressed about the whole creative process.  I just wasn't drawn to these things, they didn't sit comfortably with my love of colour and desire to break the rules.

As for reconciling my identity as a modern woman with being a quilter, I think the two sit together very easily.  For me (and many others), quilting is a creative process, which happens to generally have a practical outcome.  It is art.  As I have an art history background, I have spent quite a bit of time exploring the ideas of what it is to be a female artist as well as the definition that was made for ages between art and craft.  I think the lines are blurring more there now and quilting is definitely both.  Not that we should worry about pigeonholes.  As modern women we should be doing whatever pleases us in our leisure time or as a career and if that is quilting then so be it.

3. Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?
Every quilt I have made represents me in some way. However, if I were to choose one, which was a turning point for me, I would choose this modern medallion quilt:
It is still just the quilt top too by the way, which is an important statement to myself at the moment because the next step will include some free motion quilting, which I have been working on as well as straight line.  This thought process and planning of the quilting is showing me how the quilting itself is an integral but also independent part of the creative process.  Something it has taken me a while to come to understand and appreciate.

This quilt was doing as part of Crystal's online quilt along.  I feel so connected with this quilt because it was shared at every step with the wonderful online community we created and also because I took so many risks with it.  I deliberately challenged myself with the palette, the paper piecing and the minor alterations to the pattern, which Crystal supported and encouraged of all of us.  As it was a medallion quilt I had no real idea about how it would turn out when finished.  Every border was surprise and fortunately for me, always a wonderful one.  I had to trust my choices and aesthetic completely when it came to this quilt, which made it an incredible learning process.  I have to admit I was surprised about how well it turned out - far better than I expected from my slightly shaky paper piecing start with what seemed like a huge expanse of low volume fabric.  I was also surprised about how well received it has been online and on Instagram.  It has given me a huge confidence boost, both in my creative abilities and in how my work is now being perceived by people I respect and admire.

4. How do you connect with other modern quilters? What does it mean to you to have this sisterhood of modern women? 

I am an active member of our local modern quilt guild, which is new and growing, which is a great thing I think.  I am connecting further afield with modern quilters online, through blogs, facebook groups and other social media.  The conversations, ideas and images are so inspiring and reassuring.  There is nothing like being part of this international community where we all speak the same language.

I don't have any daughters to pass this onto but in the true modern quilting fashion, my young son is showing an interest in what I do and in the creative process.  He has had his first experience of sewing too and really enjoyed it.  Maybe we have another Quilt Dad, Molli Sparkles, Bill Kerr or Thomas Knauer in the making...and that in itself is the joy of modern quilting - where we are all quilters and the fact we are men or women becomes irrelevant.

1 comment:

  1. I too have done the modern quilt medallion. Still a flimsy 😊