One of the most fun perks of being a long-arm quilt artist is the ability to experience so many different quilts. The world of quilting has a wide spectrum of styles and opportunities for our creative spirits to be brought to fruition. Right now, if you were to journey into my quilting studio, you would see a closet full of quilt tops waiting to become quilts. Not only do these quilts each have their own personality, but they fall into a broad category of style.
There’s a batik star wall-hanging that is waiting for some custom quilting, and a couple of intricately pieced civil war reproduction quilts. There are two quilts that were pieced by someone’s dear grandma, but never finished…these have a 1980’s flair. I even have some Irish Chain blue and white quilt tops that are waiting for me to get around to giving them feather wreaths and a binding.
The spectrum of style on my rack changes frequently. I have clients who are “art quilt” makers…a category seemingly without boundaries, and several traditional quilters, who would probably prefer to hand quilt all their projects, but are too eager to get on to the next project. There are quilts made from 1930’s reproduction fabrics, sweet pastels that mimic flour sacks from that era, and those that feature the cutting edge of fabric design.
Many of my clients find great satisfaction in stash reduction and bring me quilts with all sorts of different fabrics, I once had a quilting buddy who used to say “If you have enough different fabrics in there, everything goes!” This was in a quilt shop at the exact moment I was choosing the border fabric for the quilt pictured below.
One thing I personally struggle with is my own personal style. If you were to look at all the quilts I have completed, you would find that my style is almost as eclectic as the collection of quilts on my rack. I have made quite a few table runners…each with a different season in mind. I have also made several bed quilts with sort of a contemporary/traditional feel. I once spent half a year cutting little rectangles to make a scrappy quilt…which I then gave away as a wedding gift to someone who was about to get a divorce! (I wish I had kept that one!)
I have used batiks, and flannel, as well as home-spuns, and even some Minky. I have made a few baby quilts (although I wish I could have completed one for each baby I have known) and several juvenile type quilts for my kids. One of my favorite quilts was a watercolor Irish Chain quilt, which I hand quilted…except for the borders which I did on the long-arm.
One theme seems to be as prevalent in my list of completed quilts as it is in the people I work for. The quilts, you see, are not for me. Just as I hear over and over as I receive my life’s work, they are gifts. The design process, and assembly is not only an opportunity to express my creativity, but it is a labor of love. I don’t make quilts so I can decorate my home, or have a pile of quilts, I make them because I get great joy in the process, and also because I get great joy in expressing my love for someone through the gift of a quilt. Since gifts that I make are mostly for others, and the goal is for those others to love their quilt, I choose to adapt to their style, making something that they will appreciate, and cherish.
One thing that is clear to me, is what my personal style is NOT. I am not a “modern” quilter. I am also not an “art-quilt” maker. While I am able to appreciate the beauty of these two styles, and admire the quilts that represent them, they just aren’t me. I think I lean toward traditional, but with contemporary colors and prints. I joke with one of my friends that I “used to be blue, but now I’m red.” My style has evolved over the past several years, and surely will change in the years to come. I should probably start another scrap quilt to use up all those fabrics I love in my stash before I change my mind!
When I think about all the different patterns I have quilted, a whole new discussion comes to mind…maybe I’ll share that one later! If you had to decide what your quilting style is…what would it be?