I’ve been thinking about my growth as a quilter a lot lately, and Jaye’s (very thoughtful) comment on the last episode spurred me to actually sit down and write about it. My mom recently sent me a picture of the first quilt I made for them, which was maybe 8 years ago. I honestly can’t remember whether I made it before or after my oldest was born, but here it is:
It’s lap-sized. I bought a FQ assortment of Hawaiian print fabrics, cut them into squares, sashed them (inaccurately, I’m sure), used poly batting, and just straight line quilted (without a walking foot) in the sashing. I believe I called the sashing “lattice” at the time. I can name about 99 problems with this quilt. Inelegant layout? Complete lack of a consistent and accurate 1/4″ seam? Lack of quilting? Check. Check. Check.
Compare that quilt with Iz, from last year, also in Hawaiian print for my mom.
Interesting layout? Consistent and accurate piecing? Imaginative quilting? Check. Check. Check. Still, I look at it and can name around 25 problems with it.
I’m a tad hard on myself sometimes, is what I’m saying. But I can also acknowledge growth. Technical growth, anyway. I’m still working on that artsy-fartsy part of myself that brings things like color. Here’s another early quilt of mine to demonstrate:
This is prayer quilt for the church group I used to work with. We worked with donated fabrics for 90% of our needs, and in this case a man had lost his wife to cancer and was left to raise their five daughters on their own. I suggested using 5 different pinks in the quilt to represent the five girls. Because the pink at the center of the blocks was rather more red than pink, I put the lace strips over it to “cut it” a bit. It’s an okay quilt given the limitations we were working with, but I feel like I can name 5 things wrong with the color here and they are all shades of pink.
And then my color growth with the Blue Swoon quilt:
It’s… better. I say that with a hesitancy that comes from a place of insecurity about my color skills (and not begging for nice comments, because you guys have already said such nice things about it already - thank you!).
I feel like I need to force myself to do an insanely scrappy quilt just to push all sorts of colors together and make myself get over my aversion to things not matching exactly. Here is where we pause to listen to my parents, husband, every school teacher I ever had, and anyone who’s ever seen me work on a jigsaw puzzle laugh their fool heads off with the idea that I will ever be a laid back person who can just “let things go”.
I’m very good about setting/accomplishing goals around increasing my technical skills (paper piecing, trapunto, FMQ, etc.). What I need to do is balance that with it growing my “softer skills” like design, color, and art quilting skills in composition.
It’s likely that my nerdy inner-self that craves structure is going to wield a spreadsheet and a protractor and beat down the inner artsy-fartsy hippie. That’s probably why I don’t wear more scarves, too.