No Quilt Police – A post from Barb

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I hope everyone has been having a terrific holiday season! With luck and good planning I’m sure you have managed to finish all of the gifts you were anticipating giving. If things didn’t work quite as expected I’m sure you had a good backup plan for the gifts that didn’t get done by the time they were needed. Anyone who has ever done any last-minute ordering knows that even the best laid plans can be derailed by shipping delays among other setbacks – but they eventually get there! I’ve been there and done that. This year, my last-minute gift involved finishing up a stocking for my 9-month-old grandson on Christmas Eve. Time has taught me how to not panic, but to come up with creative solutions when things don’t go as planned.

In the case of the stocking, there were many obstacles. First, I had to decide whether I should piece it or just quilt and embellish it. Both my son and daughter-in-law have embellished red stockings, so there was an element of tradition there. I also figured that I have some very nice digital quilting patterns for quilted stockings from Kim Diamond of Sweet Dream Studios. There would still be finishing involved, but it would be a time-saver to set up Luna, my longarm machine, and let her go at it.

Of course there was a minor glitch in that plan.

Throwing out the assumption that I would do any personal sewing well in advance of when needed, I wanted to finish a customer’s quilt before I did the stocking. Naturally, this particular quilt was not playing nicely with Luna and there were repeated errors that I have not encountered in all of the years that I have been longarming! Needless to say, it was taking much longer than expected. Yes, I could have taken the quilt off the frame. I do have zippered leaders to make that easy. But I just prefer to finish a quilt and not have to realign it. Personal preference (no quilt police!).

Ok, so quilting a new stocking doesn’t appear to be in the cards. But wait! I have previously done several – including one red stocking and one maroon stocking! Whoppee, I’ll use the maroon one! The quilting is done, I just need to finish the assembly. So, I keep multi-tasking, working on the quilt on the frame and adding some touches to the stocking. I add a lining, and even embroider a cuff for the top with his name on it! The last touch is to hand stitch some jingle bells on the bottom to make it more similar to his parents’ stockings. The stocking is done on time, the parents are both thrilled and I look like the best grandma ever!

On a side note, I received three quilting-related gifts this year. Eleanor, one of our staff members, had a T-shirt made for me that says “Quilt Police” and has the universal symbol for NO across it.  I burst out laughing when I saw it and definitely plan to wear it when we start classes again in January! Quilting, to me, should be fun, relaxing, and provide a link between generations. It is very easy to get so bogged down in how things “should” be done that you lose sight of the joy. Quilting just makes me happy.

The second gift I received was from my daughter, Hilary. Knowing that our local PBS station hadn’t broadcast the new series “Why Quilts Matter”, she got the DVDs for me. We haven’t had time yet to sit down and watch, but I am really looking forward it.

"Why Quilts Matter" documentary series DVDs

The third was a pair of Mariner’s Compass blocks done in heavy weight steel to go on the side of the house.  Eleanor saw them at Quilt Expo in Madison in September and told Hilary about them.  Hilary checked them out, but they were out of her price range.  She passed the info on to my husband and he got them for me.  They are not the full size barn quilts that you see hanging around Green County, but they are just perfect for here in town!

Mariner's Compass block from Classic Metal Company

Ok, what does this have to do with the quilt police? The bottom line is that there are multiple ways to create the family heirlooms and everyday objects that we all love. There is no one “right” way to do it. Yes, there are guidelines that can be very helpful but should be applied appropriately because you can’t always press to the dark fabric! If there are set-backs don’t give up, be creative. Relax and enjoy what you do. Quilting can be a fantastic way to shut out all of the troubles and noise of everyday life, just as it has been for generations. Most of all, remember that quilting matters. It matters to you, it connects you to your family, it may connect you to family members that won’t be born until long after you are gone. But they will know you by what you have created. I, for one, refuse to let the quilt police stop me.

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