The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
It’s Springtime for Quilters (Wherever You Are)
I don’t know where you’re sitting right now, but where I am in Chicago, there is real-life green grass growing in the park across the street! Doggies are being walked! Tulips peek out of windowsills! In the air, the fresh smell of … well … okay, it’s still Chicago, but it is definitely spring. Everyone, even the garbage man in the alley, is in a good mood.
This sort of beautiful May day gets a person thinking about new projects and fresh starts. Some of the projects that tug at the mind may be of the home-improvement variety (e.g., fix the light in the pantry or else, clean the gutters, etc.). Other projects may involve self-improvement (e.g., no carbs ever again, run 25 miles a day, etc.). Still, other plans are surely of the patchwork and quilting kind. I can’t help you with the pantry or the carbs stuff, but your trusty Quilt Scout can hopefully assist with the patchwork and quilting projects by helping you take full advantage of your newfound spring energy.
Need color inspiration? The garden is a great place to look —
and you might see a cute dog! Photo: Wikipedia.
Here is some friendly advice from a quilter who has fit one or more of the following profiles at some point.
If you’re a quilter with a lot of UFOs …
The proclamations you made in December about spending the rest of the winter completing UFOs? Those project bags full of bias binding strips were no match for Netflix and cocoa with Bailey’s Irish Cream, am I right? (Please tell me that wasn’t just me). Yes, some of us still have a few unfinished objects to deal with, despite our best intentions. If that’s the case, don’t spend any time in regret! Carpe diem! Spring is a time for getting with the old (projects) so that you can get in with the new.
The best thing I know how to do with those UFOs is to select one — only one — and forget about everything else. Just work on one thing until it’s done. You can’t work on nine things simultaneously, after all (and trying to work on nine things simultaneously is how you ended up in this mess). My mom always says she loves “the joy of finishing” and you can’t discover that joy until you finish something.
What’s great about the joy of finishing something is that it’s addicting: Once you get a taste of that joy, you find you want it again. And that’s how to get those UFOs out of your life and into the hands of someone who would really love to have it. This might even be you. Don’t finish everything: Finish something.
If you’re a quilter rearin’ to go …
Some of you will be geared up to start new quilting projects because though you also spent quality time with Netflix and Bailey’s this winter, you were sewing the whole time. While I cannot condone such risky behavior, I commend you for your determination. And now you’re ready to keep going and there’s so much you want to do!
The only trouble with being eager to start a lot of projects is that if you’re too eager to start too many projects, you end up with those UFOs up there. But even if you are a quilter who sees projects through, even the most diligent stitchers among us can get overwhelmed. There’s always new fabric, there’s always a hot new pattern to try. There are retreats and shows to go to and you really, really do need to take on a guild position: treasurer, maybe?
Sometimes, a tidal wave of possibility ends up actually hindering our excitement for and ability to actually do new things, so take a look at what you really, really want to try or what shows you truly can’t miss. Make some choices. Try the things or do the things that truly make your heart sing. Time is your most precious resource and I know you want to do it all, but you really can’t. (If you find out how, will you let me know?).
Sure, she looks nice. But she’s got 12 UFOs back in her sewing studio.
Looks can be deceiving! Photo: Wikipedia.
If you’re a quilter who cannot find her mojo …
There’s a scary place in which a quilter finds herself (or himself) from time to time called the “Land of the Lost Mojo.” When you’re in the Land of the Lost Mojo, you don’t have the problem of too many UFOs; you don’t have the problem of wanting to sew All the Quilts. In the Land of the Lost Mojo, your problem is that you just don’t want to sew … anything.
If you’ve been making quilts regularly enough to have, say, five or six under your belt, you’re definitely a quilter. And it’s not too often that after five or six quilts you just do not feel the love any longer; most of the time, a quilter with five or six quilts to her name is just getting started. Not always, but usually.
But those of us who have made quilts for many years can find ourselves in a rut. Or we can find ourselves sort of generally uninspired, which feels terrible. Maybe we’re not into the classes our guild has scheduled. Maybe we did the hard thing we always wanted to try and now that we’ve tried it, we’re sort of without inspiration. Maybe our color palette isn’t doing it for us anymore. (Example: I looked at my fabric stash the other day and realized I have essentially only purchased solid reds and white shirting prints for the past two years. We know you have your “thing,” but come on, Mary Fons! Shake it up!).
You can just feel this lady’s determination, can’t you? She is ready to tackle her next great quilt — and so are you. Photo: Wikipedia.The best advice I can give you is to remember to play. Quilters get into ruts,
I believe, because we feel like we have to do something a certain way, we have to get a thing “right,” or we think about the end product way, way too early in the process. Quilting is ridiculous! We cut up perfectly good fabric into little bits and sew it back together again! There is no “right.” There’s no wrong, either. Never forget that you are in charge of your time, your quilts, and your pleasure. If you’re in the Land of the Lost Mojo, look for the road sign that says “This Way to Play”—
and follow it.
Wherever you are in your quilting journey this spring, I wish you happy hours in the studio, at your kitchen table, at the retreat space, or at your guild’s next “sew-in.” If you’re new, if you’re a veteran, or if you’re making your way back after a long time away, spring is a fabulous time to be a quilter.
Oh, and please step up and take over for Karen as treasurer? That woman is a saint.