Making Things and Making Things Better
When we started teaching people our method of quilt design and quiltmaking, I thought that it would be a one, two or three-week business relationship with a student who would get the techniques from us and be on her way. Never did I imagine all of these years later that many of these students, who randomly showed up in my class would become my closest and dearest friends. Our lives are different but we come together with this wonderful energy of wanting to make something beautiful or having something we want to say. I think we’ve become such good friends over making quilts because each of us understands that it’s not about the quilt, it’s about the hope you feel when you make something. It’s a scary, unpredictable world out there, but in my little corner of the world I made something beautiful for my home or made a heartfelt quilt for my sick friend or knit a warm vest for an orphan in Russia. Making things is inherently hopeful.
Initially I had thought it was about making quilts. You know—somebody’s got a baby on the way and they want to make a quilt. Then one night a busy mother of two young children stayed in our studio until nearly 11pm trying to decide on which fabrics she wanted to use in her quilt. With great excitement in her voice she said, “I’m so tired and if I were home I would have been asleep two hours ago but it’s so fun to think about these colors and imagine what they could be.” Just sitting there daydreaming about those colors and the quilt she could make was really restorative to her. Years later she proudly displays the quilt on the sofa in her living room and smiles when people say “You made that?”
Over the years of answering the phone at Modern Quilt Studio (formerly FunQuilts) taking orders for fabric and books I have been astonished at and touched by the very personal stories that people have chosen to share with me. We hear a lot of stories of making quilts as grief therapy and an equal number about people who are making things as they emerge from a period of illness or loss. One tearful mother called to order fabric several months after the death of her son because she wanted to “rejoin the world.” Still others find the making of things gives them the creative outlet and freedom to make choices that they don’t have elsewhere in their lives.
So my sincere hope is that this blog will encourage and inspire you to design and make things that are about you and your life and a way to bring more hope into it. If a post helps you daydream about making something on your commute home or while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store then I’ll feel that my time has been well spent.
designer and quiltmaker, Modern Quilt Studio