Friday, July 29, 2011

Cutting it apart and sewing it back together

The blue and goldenrod fabric to finish up my 16 patch block quilt.

The other day someone asked me what I mean when I say, "I quilt."  I explained that I use fabric to sew patterns and designs.  He questioned me further and I tried to explain just what I meant.  We went back and forth a few times.  Questions.  Answers.  Quizzical looks.  Exasperated sighs. 

Finally he said, "So in other words, you cut fabric apart and then sew it back together."

And I said, "Yep."

Why couldn't I explain it better?  How come he couldn't understand? 

I've had a few days to reflect and here's what I've come to realize. . .

I could have explained in a few sentences what quilting is.  I mean, come on.  Duh.  But he asked what I mean when I say I quilt.  I mean that I create something with fabric.  I mean that I choose colors.  Cut colors.  Sew colors.  I mean that I sketch designs and then realize them in fabric.  I mean that I cut and sew and press.  I mean that my mind relaxes when I do so.  I mean that in that repetition my mine is able to reason and solve nagging problems.  I mean that the resulting quilt is something I will enjoy for the rest of my life.  Or to whomever I give the quilt will enjoy.  I mean that I've found something that is all my own.  That is an expression of myself from start to finish.  And ultimately will continue to be that expression even after I am gone.  I mean that I've got this thing to do with my hands that brings me happiness.  Calm.  Satisfaction.  Appreciation.  Sometimes giddy joy. 

I mean that when my children were much younger, more demanding and my stay-at-home life made me feel separate, alone and detached from the world I had a means of re-centering. 

Re-balancing. 

Finding my worth within myself. 

Yep.  I cut fabric apart and sew it back together.

And I'm so glad I do.

What does "I quilt" mean to you?

-dana

31 comments:

Lauren P said...

I'm lol-ing. It's so much more than cutting fabric apart and sewing it back together.

Lesly said...

Sounds like the best time to trot out that old chestnut: "I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

amylouwho said...

My grandpa used to say this all the time!

I quilt or sew because I like pretty things. On my couches, on my kids, on my beds.

April (Polkadot Sparrow) said...

You pretty much summed it up for me. I love your post. I'd like to add that when I quilt, I make art.

zarina said...

That is how my sister sums it up.

I do agree with all what you defined as quilting.

**nicke... said...

i find it difficult to explain also... am i a quilter or am i a piecer. i piece fabric together and i also quilt it but a what time does a quilt become a quilt. i think some people only think you are a quilter if you do the actual "quilting" not just the piecing. i think it doesn't matter. i quilt and i sew. i do it because it brings me joy. i love sewing for my family. i love sewing for my friends. i love sewing for myself. i love giving a handmade gift. i used to scrapbook and i always felt a disconnect because i would spend so much time on a page and then i would put it into a book and then put the book on the shelf. it rarely got looked at and never was loved. my quilts are used and loved and i put all my love and good thoughts into them when i make them. it makes me happy.

Helen said...

thanks for putting it into words. It is one of those things that is hard to explain if you don't experience it yourself.

Sara said...

I really LOVE what you said here---so very true.

Quilting means a passion,creative outlet,happiness,joy,FUN...etc!

The Tulip Patch said...

The favorite parts are gifting a quilt and the recipient cries. I know they get that it was made with love and not just fabric. When my children are sick or cold...they are comforted by my quilts. Sometimes they use them to make tents or bullwhips so they are good for playing and happy times too:) I know that when I am gone, something my hands have made just for them will be waiting to giving them a warm hug from me whenever they need it. Oh man, I am cryin' now!

Rachel said...

"I quilt"-to create. Because I can. LOL. To be a part of it. To give to it and someone special. Because I like to. I could go on and on and on...LOL

Marbles in a Mason Jar said...

breathing.

Jessica Christensen said...

Good golly, Dana! How on earth are any of us supposed to say it better than that?! That was so poetic. I definitely can relax and think through things while I'm sewing. I love that my kids are "quilt-grubbers" as my husband calls them. Any time I make a new quilt, they always ask, "Who is that for?" -- because sometimes, oftentimes, those quilts are slated to leave and never return. But, oh, the joy on their faces (and in my heart) when I tell them it's for us, for our watching-TV-snuggle stack. They love the quilts at least as much as I do. Thanks for this post and saying what we all feel.

Regina said...

Lovely thoughts - you said it just right!

Lindsey F. said...

You forgot to mention cutting fabric apart, sewing it back together, then cutting it apart again and sewing it back together...something I have done. Love your thoughts on what quilting means to you.

DeeRoo said...

I quilt because my mind sees the fabric and the fabric talks to my heart telling me what to do and my head and hands won't be satisfied until I cut and sew and cut and sew some more...then I make a sandwich and yummy it up with some more stitching. It just has to come out of my fingers or I feel itchy all over until it's finished!;)

Jennifer @ Ellison Lane Quilts said...

I think you and Nicke say it best. I agree completely. I quilt because I just love it and it speaks to me, deep in my soul.

BaileyGirl5 said...

Nicely said. When I make a quilt for someone I love I feel like I'm showing my love in a tangible way. What I'm creating for someone is unique to them and made from my heart and they can actually wrap themselves in my care and concern. I love knowing that .....

Jennifer said...

If this was a FB post, I'd like the heck out of it. Totally agree with how you've captured the joy of quilting!

Kim said...

You know if a person hasn't experienced the ZEN of quilting its hard to explain it so they "get it".
You expressed it perfectly Dana.
All I would add is that it gives me freedom to artistically express myself in a productive way.


Happy Sewing

VeeV said...

I mean the very same thing....minus the kids.....only cause i never had any.....

yep - cut fabric...and sew it back together...... sort of like catch & release..... seems a waste of time to me, but obviously rewarding for the catchers.

xo
eva

Denise in PA said...

Dana - I think you've said it perfectly!

Cassy said...

Very well said. Nothing more to add.


Cassy from Best Online Guitar Lessons

Julie in WA said...

You hit the nail on the head!

Basically, a builder does the exact same thing...cuts wood apart, then puts it back together again.

lucy said...

As a mother of two toddlers this made me cry. Your words so EXACTLY sum up how I feel about quilting. Thank you. I'm going to write out your words and tape them up on my wall. It brings me great joy that you could express the fulfillment my 'hobby' brings me :)

Andrea said...

every single word you said above. thanks for putting it into words for me. totally read this at the right moment today. thank you!

Mama Said Sew said...

Thanks for putting it into such lovely words. :)

Corinnea said...

I quilt, therefore I am.

Elissa said...

i am smiling a happy little smile because i KNOW.

but, i'm snickering too. yeah. any kind of sewing.... we chop up fabric and put it back together to make something beautiful, or useful, interesting. then, to make things a little weirder, we blog about it!!! ;-)

charlotte said...

I love what Jessica said. My 5 year old grandson is a quilt grubber too. When I started the Birdie Stitches blocks he asked who that quilt is gonna be for and I said "just for me" and he said "awwww" like he was really disappointed it wouldn't be his. He loves quilts. When he comes over he likes to spread a bunch out to lie on and watch tv. That is why I quilt. Joy!

JenniferO said...

My brother-in-law is a computer scientist and physicist, very logical and engineer-minded. I remember explaining quilting to him, and he was like a 2 year old, asking me questions. It was fun to see his brain working, so intent on figuring out HOW IT WORKS. I loved that in the end he appreciated what I was doing, and my skills, even though they were completely different from his.

gillyflower said...

Wow, I can identify with this so well!
It does sound silly when explaining it literally, but its all the (usually) unsaid things that make it so important, that you said here today.
Thankyou for this.
Gill xx