Quilt Philosophy

Every quilter has a style and my style is greatly influenced by quilts that were on my bed when I was growing up. When I started my obsession with making quilts years ago the first book I bought was Mary Mashuta's Cotton Candy Quilts. I read it cover to cover several times. Mary's use of color and pattern attracts me. Her twin sister Roberta Horton has a similar style and over the years I have collected all the books both sisters have written. Having identical twins myself it was interesting to see how similar both Mary and Roberta's philosophy is on quilts and yet see how they have each taken that shared philosophy and made it their own and unique. If you don't know anything about these lovely ladies I suggest you investigate. They are both facinating.

Last year the Utah Quilt Guild had Mary Mashuta as a guest speaker and presenter at annual meeting. Flora invited Laura and I to go with her and I was anxious to get in the luncheon lecture Mary spoke at. Flora ended up having a grandchild born (of all things!) and so Laura and I went together. It was loads of fun and memorable for me because of my studying Mary's quilts for a while now. I took my dog earred and well used Cotton Candy Quilts book and a sharpie with me. Like a true groupie I waited in line to have her autograph my book. She noted the name of the lecture and slide show she presented with her autograph. It was thrilling to meet her. I don't really think she was impressed with my gushing, however.

There is no doubt that Mary, Roberta, Nancy Martin and others have had a great influence in my work. They are all fabulous quilters. I love making scrap quilts. There is something more primitive and "real" in making quilts with what is on hand. Our local quilt group had a stash challenge 2 years ago, I think. It inspired me to try to dent my scraps and produce quilts from what I had on hand in a way many quilters had for centuries. (of course I won, I had to!)

I've been preparing for a trunk show the Utah Valley Quilt Guild invited me to present next week and gathering quilts from around the house thinking about what I could offer other than just show-n-tell.
I have a philosophy I thought I'd share with my blog friends. I know usually many bloggers skim pictures and don't take the time to read so I usually try to keep it fairly short. But I thought I'd put this out there anyway.

The following is the first page of my hand out for the trunk show and yes, its wordy but I really like it. These are not my own ideas but thoughts of other quilters that express my feelings, too.

Quotable notes from Roberta Horton in “Scrap Quilts, The Art of Making Do”

“I’m convinced that hiding inside all of us is a creative side which we don’t always access. Sometimes we don’t even realize it exists. Being creative merely means that we make our own choices, and we learn to be satisfied with our own images or our own version of how a quilt should or can be made.”

“I love fabric, so quilts made with a lot of different fabrics give me more to look at, more to love. I am forced to read the entire surface of the quilt to find all the variety in the fabric patterns and colors. It’s sort of like a treasure hunt. In contrast, I only have to read one of the blocks in a repeated block quilt if the fabric usage is duplicated. It doesn’t seem to matter how complicated and complex the construction of an individual block may be. Once is enough! That quilt maker wasted a lot of effort to entertain me; there’s nothing new for me to see. A pillow or cushion would have consumed as much of my interest and curiosity. . . . A scrap quilt is impossible to memorize. It would require a lengthy phone conversation to a fellow quilt maker to describe a good scrap quilt. Not so for the repeat-fabric quilt. All that would be necessary would be a short statement which includes the pattern, the block size, and a brief inventory of the fabrics.”

“Ofttimes I’ve admired a scrap quilt only to discover that I didn’t like some of the fabrics used in it. I probably wouldn’t have bought that fabric in the first place. At least, I wouldn’t have had certain fabrics touch each other in a shared seam. How could this be? It’s important to understand the relationships between fabrics. They don’t all do the same job within a quilt or a block. Some are there to catch our attention, others merely cover the batting. Some form a contrast so we can better appreciate the beauty of another one.”

Quote from Darlene Zimmerman quoting Bonnie Hunter:

How Many Quilts? After having been asked how many quilts I’ve made, who I’m making this one for, or that one for, or why, and how many quilts do I think I need . . . I came to the following conclusion:

I am a creator, an artist, just as much as a painter is . . .Does anyone ask a painter who he is painting for or why he is painting yet another landscape? How many pictures/portraits he has painted? How many canvases or paintings does he need? NO! Does a painter stop wanting to paint because he has reached some number that symbolizes the end of his need to paint? “Okay that’s #100, I’m done now . . .” I create because I am driven to create. My medium just happens to be fabric and thread instead of oil or acrylics on canvas . . . but I create for the same reason . . to express myself, to share myself, to experiment . . . Even if the quilt doesn’t have a purpose, a recipient, a reason. Quilting is my voice. I Quilt therefor I am.


edit: Eileen is sponsoring a summer stash challenge. I am going to join. I don't know how much I'll get done but I think its a fabulous summer idea. Go read about it at Eileen's blog.

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Jana Nielson said...

Bravo!! I love the quotes, and I don't think it is too wordy at all. It is inspirational! My husband is always asking "What is THAT project for? What are you going to do with it?" It is art!

Abby and Stephanie said...

My husband always used to ask "Will that fit a bed?" He thought every quilt should be utilitarian. Now that he does stained glass he buys glass he likes with no project in mind and makes things just because he wants to. Not any different from a quilter. The creative process is what is important, whatever your medium. LOVE your quilt. Thanks for always sharing wonderful things.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and inspirational as usual. Good way to start the day! xo flora

Des said...

Nanette, I love this post! I love the color and the scrappiness of those quilts. Scrap quilts have always been my favorite. I started one yesterday when the electricity went out and I just kept cutting and going all night long. I forgot how much I love working with a large variety of color/print/design. I went to bed very, very happy. AWESOME quotes. I just have to recommend this book. Maybe you've heard, read and devoured it already: The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857 by Carol Holindrake Nielson. Talk about reading cover to cover and over and over again. I loved it and hope you do too!

Thimbleanna said...

GREAT post Nanette! I loved reading the quotes. My friends and I have often marvelled how sometimes an incredibly ugly fabric can be just the perfect touch in a scrap quilt. LOVE, LOVE that quilt!

Amanda Jean said...

what a great post nanette! I especially love that last paragraph. I don't always have a reason for making a quilt. it's just what I do. your quilt is absolutely gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love scrap quilts, too. And I need to adopt that last quote. I tend to think, "why do I need to make ANOTHER 'blanket'? How many does one person need?! When I get them hung, my daughter will have a good half wall full of doll quilts, too. I'm trying to get better about giving what I made though, too (by making Quilts of Valor). It's just that usually I make something and I love it so much I don't want to give it away!

antique quilter said...

GREAT POST! I really enjoyed reading this.
and I just LOVE that quilt you posted, when did you make that?
I just love it!
how big is it?
How is it displayed in your home????
This is on my list of quilts to make someday!
yes using the fabric I have is my goal for the next 10 quilts I want to make!

Jodi Nelson said...

What an awesome post. I'm in a hurry so I will comment more later, but I think it would be uberly cool if everyone joined in and posted their thoughts about quilting! Don't you ?

Eileen said...

Nanette, I'm going to echo everyone in saying this was a wonderful post. So true that a repeat pattern is not as entertaining! Even when you are piecing and quilting it. :)

Thanks for the spot on your blog about the challenge. You are always so inclusive :)

Darlene said...

Wonderful posting today, Nanette. Interesting, too, it's almost like you've been reading my thoughts. I'll have to post on my blog and reference yours as a segue.

I love your 'style' and the inspiration you provide on a daily basis.

Tracey M. said...

i love that fan quilt! stuff like this makes eliot get all twitchy and want to quilt too.

give it a good ten years, and i will be able to finagle a sewing machine and a huge fabric stash out of him so i can make adorable quilts too.

Joanna said...

Nanette, are you doing the trunk show at the UVQG next week, Wednesday 18th? (I just looked it up on their website) I get in the night before... I MUST come to the meeting!!! I am going to call my MIL right now and tell her that we have plans for that day lol!!! I am so excited!

Purple and Paisley said...

awesome post...and you're just like me...i read and reread my quilt books...they are all dog-eared...and i get something new out of them everytime i read them...i wish i could come to your trunk show...how about i be there in spirit with you????? =)

Lily Boot said...

Oh Nanette - there are so many thoughts in your post that really resonate with me too! I love the cheerful, whimsy of your books - they are always the quilts that pull me in - and the writer is quite right - they pull me in because they're so rich with possibility! This is something I need to work on because I can get bogged down in making everything matchy matchy! And she's right - there's no challenge in that! I also loved the comments about how many quilts. I cannot tell you how many times various family members have said, goodness, you're making another quilt - do you need this quilt - this comment makes me writhe inside! So Bonnie's (?) thoughts really struck a chord - thanks for sharing them -they've given me strength for my day when I was feeling quite anxious about how I spend my days, and unsure of what it is I want to do. :-) p.s. your plate quilt is DIVINE! Gosh your home must be a magical place filled with all your lovely quilts!

Cathi said...

This post is fantastic! I always gravitate to scrap quilts. I admire controlled palette quilts and think the work in them is great, but always want to look more closely and for a longer time at the scrap quilts.
I'm doing a two colour quilt at the moment and, while I"m enjoying it, can't wait to get back to doing something scrappy.
Your post says it all. Thank you for writing it!

Karen said...

Wow what a great post and I LOVE the quotes. Sometimes it hard to remember that it's the process that fills us up and not always a need. It's fills that creative spot in us. That quilt is absolutely stunning. I'm a fan of scrap quilts and love the make-do look of them and tossing in fabrics out of my usual flavor or color always makes the quilt pop - but sometimes it's hard to do, LOL. Oh I wish I could sit through your talk and show and tell. I know it would be amazing.

jen duncan said...

Fabulous Nanette. I read it and love what you wrote. Especially the quote about painters not having a reason to paint. That really does sum it up. LOVE your quilts. Whoever gets to attend your trunk show will be very lucky!

Laura said...

I hope I get invited to the show n tell. I'd love to be your hold-up-the-quilt assistant.

Ulla said...

I enjoyed reading your post and I agree with the ideas. Most of my quilts are made with what I have, almost all recycle clothes worn by my family and in this way keep memories alive. I'm glad you joined our Summer Stash Challenge! Good luck with your trunk show.

Stacy said...

I always read all the text. Maybe thats why I take so long, he he. Oh I wish I could go to your trunk show. I bet you will be fabulous. Plus you make the most beautiful quilts ever! Good luck, I will be with you in spirit! Love Stacy

p.s. your fan quilts are darling! What a memento to have of that long drive.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. Your fan quilt is beautiful too.

I have one similar quilt project I started years and years ago and tucked it away because I got pretty frustated with all the arcs in the pattern. This makes me want to pull it out again and give another crack.

Quilting (and of course any other hobby or crafting) is indeed good therapy for the creative soul.

No other explanation is necessarily needed-lol.

erica e said...

i read this post yesterday and enjoyed it so much i came back this morning to look and read it again. i love it all. i'm so inspired.
i absolutely love your winning scrap quilt.
i have that scrap quilts book by roberta horton. i've probably read it 50 times. i hadn't seen the books by her sister though and i think i'm going to have to head over to ebay and pick myself up a few new books.

Julia said...

Thanks for sharing those quotes. I love the one about why we quilt. We are artists in every sense of the word. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this--fascinating food for thought! I love the last quote. I don't have a single quilt that "matches" my decor in any way. I play with fabrics and colors just to see what happens.

pink-petal-designs said...

I Just love your quilts !1

Cheryl said...

Applause, applause...standing ovation!!! What a great post. Thanks so much for sharing, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy for being part of such a wonderful sisterhood of quilters. I am always drawn to scrap qults.

Mary said...

I too am a lover of scrap quilts. (Your wagon-wheel quilt has me blown away.) I absolutely love the process of putting together fabrics that are "random" ... on paper ... but in my heart, mind and work there is method in every single step.

It seems increasingly that the business of quilting (and fabric production) has reduced the number of scrap quilts in magazines. I know it doesn't make economic sense, but I want to see quilts with fabrics in them that I can no longer purchase.

Because picking my own is most of the fun anyway.

Thanks for making us think.

Mary Johnson said...

Beautiful quilt! Scrap quilts are my absolute favorites. Good luck with the trunk show!

Anonymous said...

I am a 59 year old quilter who is 355 days from 60. Please note that I am smiling as I write this. I read your comment on Mark's blog. I'm sorry none of your quilts were winners. I would agree that the winning quilts didn't seem to me to be anything special. But was there something in there that said they were made by 60 year old women? I am a strong believer that age has nothing to do with it and wish that people would forget the number thing! My friend, Lois is 93 and still making great colorful quilts. Even Mark's mag's target demographic is 30-55 and yet, if you "read between the lines" on his pickle group, you can tell that many of those participating are 55 and older. A friend who owns a quilt shop told me that, in fact, the average age of a dedicated quilter is now 59. Knowing that the new median lifespan is now 78 years, I'd say we have a lot of quilting left in us. I love the quilts that are featured on your blog. They are so colorful. They are all unique and it is refreshing. I love color, too, and will never be published by a magazine because I don't use fabric lines. I have a 40 year stash and I buy what appeals to me and most times, it is not a complete line of fabric. My opinion is that all quilt magazines seem to be catering to fabric lines and in many ways that has taken the creativity out of the quilting. My advice on the quilt that is in the hands of Fons and Porter would be - get it back asap as they may never use it and better that it be at your home than in their storage. Check out my blog as I wrote a poem a few years ago that you may like. http://alegacyofstitches.blogspot.com
Sandi in MN

Unknown said...

Great post!! I love Mary Mashuta and Roberta Horton too. I also have their books. A favorite of mine is Confetti Quilts. I love what you are doing for your trunk show and lecture. Your quilts are beautiful and the quotes...oh so true!! Wonderful, I wish I could be there to see it in person.

Ginger Patches said...

Great post!!! Not only did I read the whole thing (I always do though) I am going to come back and read it again later when I'm not being distracted by my sweet children and inquiries about the possibility of maybe getting dinner tonight lol. I so agree with the scrap quilting thing. Whenever I'm teaching someone to quilt I always steer them away from quilts with repeating blocks of the same fabric!

Oh and I want to come to your trunk show!!! You will do a virtual trunk show for all of us in blog land right? Please? :)

Amy DeCesare said...

Wow! How did those ladies get inside my head? I LOVE the description about the reading of a scrap quilt! I'm going to print this blog out and refresh myself from time to time with these great words.

jacquie said...

What a wonderful post...hit me right where I live! Love your scrap quilt...it's just beautiful...there is something special about your own combination of fabrics that lights up a quilt.