Christa’s Soap Box – I am a quilter.

I am a quilter. Obvious I know, but I’ve been spending the last few weeks and months determining what this really means to me and why I enjoy doing what I do.

It means I love to make quilts from start to finish. I love coming up with a design, choosing the fabrics, cutting them into little pieces and sewing them back together again. I absolutely love the texture that machine quilting adds to a piece, and I don’t even mind basting since that’s a necessary part of the process.

I am a quilter.

I am a quilter.

I’ve come to enjoy finishing the binding by hand, curling up on the sofa watching a good movie while I do so. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can add a label and a hanging sleeve without too much stress.

Thinking about the quilt-making process has caused me to reflect on what I’m not really into, either. I finally came to the understanding that it’s okay not to do it all. Really, it is. I’m not interested in embellishment. I have no desire to dye my own fabrics. And, as beautiful as machine embroidery is, it’s just not my thing.

Quilting for Kids

My sister’s kids and their quilts. I love that they get used!

Although I love to create original quilts and share them with others, I haven’t become a serious pattern designer. I’m just not good at graphic design. (That’s one of the reasons I enjoy getting published in magazines and why I want to write a book – so I can leave the professional-looking layout to the experts!)

This reflection has caused me to be a little more open-minded. For a long time I had a really hard time wondering why everyone in the world didn’t quilt their own quilts. By the same token, I’m sure the art quilters, embroiderers and graphic designers can’t understand why I’m not as passionate about their hobby as they are. The answer? We each have ourΒ  own interests and thank goodness there’s room for all of us!


Teaching my daughter to quilt.

So although I will try to convince as many people as possible that they really can quilt their own quilts, it’s okay if you aren’t interested. You can still be my quilting friend and I will continue cheering you on! πŸ™‚

65 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – I am a quilter.

  1. Marjory W. says:

    I really like your blog postings and would love a gift certificate! Your tree quilt and variations are great, as are Melissa Corry’s quilts. Fun!

  2. Lori Smanski says:

    Yup I agree, we don’t have to do it all, even in life. Your sisters kiddos are so cute. I love how you are teaching your daughter to sew. I taught both my daughter and son. My daughter learned it all and then moved on., My son on the other hand took to it like duck to water. Now he sews and sells clothes for men for civil war re-enacting. And he is quite the seamstress.

  3. JENNY says:

    sweet post. so far ive been a quilter who quilts with cash…meaning i send my ‘important’ quilts out…and i keep telling myself im not interested in the machine quilting part…but i do wonder if i had a larger machine with more throat room if quilting would become a love of mine as well.

  4. farmquilter says:

    Well, some of us really appreciate folks who quilt by check too!!! πŸ™‚ And I get to see quilts that I would never make myself too – win for both of us πŸ™‚

  5. adaisygarden says:

    It’s obvious that you certainly struck a chord with this post! I just went through a similar thing last week when I packed up an embroidery machine I bought and sent it back after only 2 days. While I love the look of machine embroidery, I decided that for right now, its not for me. I’m going to continue quilting by hand, designing my own projects, whether it’s sewing, quilting, or hand embroidery. I enjoy the entire process, even the hand sewing and quilting. Several years ago, I made my daughter’s wedding dress and even sewing the tiny pearls and beads on the bodice was a pleasure. It’s actually therapeutic for me to sit and either piece a quilt together or crochet a blanket for a gift, while watching TV. It’s fun πŸ™‚

  6. stitchinstein says:

    I was introduced with the concept of “Quilt By Check” just this past summer. What I found was there is just a lot of wonderful people that love the art of quilting and they told me they either have too many tops and want them done or they just don’t want to mess them up! I was okay with these responses but for me I need to do everything, start to finish. I love seeing how my skills have progressed over time. I also thought there needs to be a new term coined because when you just make the top, aren’t you then just a ‘topper’? not really a ‘quilter’? Either way, it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it!

  7. Linda Webster says:

    I started quilting over 30 years ago and enjoy it just as much today as I did when I first started. I’ve met so many people due to my involvement in quilting and some of them have become best friends. Quilting has really shaped my life and I’m so thankful that it has become such a large part of who I am!

  8. Lin Hulen says:

    I enjoyed this post very much and I agree! We do not all like the same part of the quilting process, but we are still quilters who love what we do!! Thank you for a great post!

  9. Sheila says:

    Just got in from yoga; read your story; made me shed a tear – time to get on with my life and do what I like to do for me!!! Thank you sooo much!!!

  10. Dolores says:

    I simply don’t have the talent to design etc. I JUST FOLLOW PATTERNS and my machine quilting leaves a lot to be desired. But I like to make my quilts from start to finish otherwise I can’t say
    “I made it”.

  11. Cheri says:

    WOW Christa… you are talking my talk! Best blog post I have read all the way through in a long time! This is exactly how I feel and work! I too dislike graphic design and love looking at the pictures in books… and then altering it to my likes. I am also teaching my 7 yo grand daughter to quilt and am saying these same things to her.

  12. shirley tener says:

    Good Story.. I dont like cutting all those triangles and the fussy part so I think QAYG is for me and I also like keeping the quilt fabric line together…….. I have RA so machine quilting isnt for me due to the pain it causes, but I can hand quilt and that will be what I do in the future or learn atleast. Getting better at binding but I have to learn that Being perfect isnt what your family loves, because the quilt the kids love to lay on is the one without binding..LOL.. Also I have realized, I always jump into something BIG.. well a table runner will teach the technique better than Making a King Size quilt.

  13. Renee says:

    I can so relate to what you said! I’ve been quilting for 4 years now, and have slowly come to enjoy each step in the process–why fight the ironing/pressing, and cutting? Why dread those steps when they are necessary to EVERY quilt? So now I just try to find the beauty in each step, and when there’s a million HST to press or trim, I put on something fun to watch or listen to and time spent is a little less tedious. Because I want to do the whole process, but I completely understand why others would rather skip some steps! Anyway, thanks for validating the quilters who do things differently!

  14. Louise says:

    Kuddos to you for insight that took me into my 50’s to gain. Everyones is different and special in their own ways – there is no right or wrong way to do anything as long as we are true to ourselves and kind to those around us. May we all accept our talents and honor our inner voice.

  15. Annette Ackley says:

    Well said!! We are all different when it comes to quilting. We all have different ideas and that is what makes quilting so interesting. My interest in quilting is a little different than my Mother’s interest in quilting, all though we share the same passion for quilting. That is what makes it so unique. Thank you for your blog!!

  16. Jereena Ameen Hussain says:

    I love the way you analyse your thoughts. I completely agree that you leave things for the experts. That’s why I never understood the DIY all community, yes you don’t pay someone to tighten a screw that is loose. But when you “do it all” minor and major repairs, you are actually cutting down someone’s paycheck.
    Its fun to read your posts, very thought-provoking as well.
    Thank you.

  17. Jeanne says:

    Isn’t it delightful, freeing and energizing to be yourself and live out from there—so happy for you. Welcome to this awesome place—the world needs you and I LOVE hearing from you every morning. Thank you!

  18. Anne says:

    Absolutely, sometimes you don’t want to do it all. It can still be yours. My husband was a very good professional photographer and he did not print his own prints. He had a professional lab do it. He often printed some for his own pleasure just as I quilt some. Good to be open minded. Quilting for me is a hobby. Learning and fun.

  19. Lea says:

    What a a great post! I make quilts because I enjoy the colors, the look and feel of the fabric, the design of the quilt, the texture of the quilting. It is all very relaxing and at the same time energizing. I love all quilts and enjoy making scrappy quilts because of all the different fabrics I get to see and enjoy while making them. I like both traditional and modern quilts and someday will make a modern quilt. I like to work off the cuff when making a quilt and it often changes as I go. I have some designs that I have yet to make into a quilt. I have done a little hand quilting which I enjoy doing. I love looking at the finished quilt while it’s in the hoop and the feel of it as I’m quilting it. I’ve had some of my quilts quilted by long arm quilters, I don’t consider that cheating. Some musicians write music, some sing it and some do both. They all have talent and something to offer to the music industry. I’ve practiced machine quilting on small projects, mug rugs and small QAYG projects and enjoyed working on these projects. I’m making an eye spy quilt for my nephew and this will be my first β€œofficial” machine quilted quilt. πŸ™‚ It’s a small enough quilt (46” x 53”) for me to feel comfortable machine quilting it. I love the look of straight stitches and I love the look of FMQ. I also enjoy hand sewing the binding on because it let’s me see the completed quilt as I sew. I’ve recently started machine stitching the bindings on mug rugs for practice and machine stitched the binding on 2 quilts. The eye spy quilt binding will be machine stitched because of the wear and tear on a quilt for a little one.

    I’ve never made an art (picture) quilt and I have no desire to make one. But they are gorgeous! I admire the quilters who make them and their talent. There are many, many quilts (traditional, modern and art quilts) that make me stop in my tracks and admire their beauty. I recently saw an art quilt that captured my attention and it made me stop to THINK about what the artist was saying, not β€œjust” the look of the quilt. It was an awesome quilt with heart and passion. The kind of art that reaches into your soul.

  20. elsabean says:

    I’ve only had one quilt ”professionally’ quilted (so far) and while she did a wonderful job, I was terribly disappointed. First because it felt like it wasn’t mine anymore and second, she didn’t do what I had asked (I don’t know why, I was too upset to ask).
    I will have another done by someone else I know will do what I want. The only reason for this one is it is a giant quilt and I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it on my machine.
    All the other quilts I’ve made I’ve quilted on my own machine and I’m happy with them. I’ll never quilt like some but my quilts are mine from start to finish!
    Thanks for the post today. I didn’t realize that i still felt the way I did about that quilt ~ time to let that go.

  21. treadlemusic says:

    Wonderful post!!! You have described (basically) how I feel about the ‘art’. I will continue to encourage others in their FMQ, etc, but it’s not for everybody. Maybe it’s just good to know a tad about all the processes so that the portions each of us are “into” can be done even better in preparation for the next step (toward the finish). But ‘quilting the quilt’ is NOT for everyone, just as …………..(you fill in the blank-ex: knitting, crocheting, fabric dying, etc) is not for everyone. The main thing is to find your individual “passion” and ‘fly’ with it!!!!! Happy Monday!!!

  22. Pam Arbour says:

    I feel pretty much as you do. I want the quilt to be mine from start to finish. I enjoy the modern quilt movement and that has helped to encourage me to do more FMQ. I have finally found my groove in the FMQ on my machine and now I need to find my personal style. I enjoy your site and your tutorials.

  23. Allison C Bayer says:

    Great post! Really enjoyed your reflection and giving yourself permission NOT to do it all. You’ve inspired me to do a bit of sharing my abundance as well. Will do the mass sort over Christmas week as a gift of time to myself this year. I, too, love the quilting process. Turned it into a business back in 1997 and still going strong! I love quilting my quilts as well as quilting for others. #2,677 is in the frame now.

  24. Michele says:

    Great post and a lot of what has been on my mind lately and in a draft post that I have in the works too. Interesting that both of our minds are on similar wavelengths lately. Figuring out what is right and not right for you is always so therapudic. I’m glad that you have figured it out for yourself.

  25. Joan DeSantis says:

    I started quilting a few years back and love it. The fabrics are so pretty and piecing together a quilt is just relaxing for me. I used to be afraid to move beyond stitch in the ditch, but I have taught myself to do some basic stippling which is both faster and less forgiving, plus I like the challenge of keeping those lines from not touching! My results are far from perfect, but I love each quilt regardless. I’m not a fan of hand binding, but I do it. I,ve tried binding on the machine, but don’t like the results. Nice to know that everyone does not send the quilts out for finishing.

  26. Sue says:

    I agree with everything you said, too. I’m so pleased not to be the only quilter out there with no interest in embellishment, embroidery, or fabric dyeing. I love the whole process and along with some of your other commenters, couldn’t imagine sending the flimsy out for someone else to finish. If this uncoordinated, clumsy chick can learn to machine quilt on a standard machine, anyone can!

  27. Alyce {Blossom Heart Quilts} says:

    I’m currently having a quilt-life crisis, haha! See today’s post for all the details, but I’m definitely passionate about the pattern designing, and like you, I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to design their own quilts πŸ˜‰ But hey, if they did, then no one would want to buy my patterns or QAL with me! So I just keep designing, filling graph books and sewing when I can find the time!

  28. Vera says:

    I’m one of those not really into quilting part but I like the first stage. Playing with the fabrics and coming up with layouts. I came up with solution. I’m currently making tops for my friends, tops only. It all might change since I’m at the beggining of being called quilter.

  29. ipatchandquilt says:

    Me too! I have always quilted my quilts myself. I started with straight lines and now do FMQ. I never thought I would love that part but I do, very much so! I love that quilting has all those elements in it: designing, fabric selection, preparation, cutting fabric, patchwork, basting and quilting. If it were only one thing, I would lose interest, maybe!

  30. Vicki says:

    Have you been reading my mind? We are on almost the same wave length. I am desperate to learn how to be a better machine quilter. Wish I could take a class from you.

  31. 8machines says:

    I sure can understand you Christa. I enjoyed teaching both my granddaughters to quilt. But I have other interests and that is wonderful too! I just started a new blog, my FOURTH! I have many interests, not just sewing, and had to think of something else. I feel much happier. Right now I am packing to move again, and we will move again in a year. So, while I get back to sewing, I won’t get too settled. Life is an adventure isn’t it?

  32. Karrie Smith says:

    I was really surprised that people didn’t quilt their own quilts. And it doesn’t have to be a super fancy long-armed design.

    I stood in line 3 years ago, when I decided I would make my first quilt. My grandmother did a lot of scrappy quilts (and they were older and used), and she went through a polyester phase (hated those ugly quilts-but my parents loved them in 1977), and the last batch of quilts she made were just charms. All flannel for Michigan winters. She has 7 kids with tons of grandchildren and some great-grandchildren now. She did, what I know now as, stitch in the ditch. She never did (that I’m aware of) FMQ or any fancy stitching. Her quilts aren’t any less special. She may not have used expensive designer material for her quilts, but we loved them and I still cherish mine, as very special. She hasn’t been able to make a quilt in about 10 years, due to getting dementia/Alzheimers. Did you know that a diagnosis of Alzheimers can’t be given until an autopsy is done?

    Sorry, back to standing in line at Joann’s on Black Friday. Some lady asked if I was going to quilt my own quilts. I bought a bunch of flannel to use as backings and some prints and flannel for the tops, like my Grandma had done. I was thrown back at this question, and I thought: yeah, isn’t that the point of making a quilt? I said, yes, that I was just going to copy what my Grandma did. I knew the term stitch in the ditch, so I used that. She was surprised at that, and said she sends her off. I imagined some magic quilt top retreat, where quilt tops stay for awhile, and come back as a finished quilt. It just was such a weird concept to me.

    While I can certainly admire different types of quilting work, (especially since I still haven’t finished the first quilt-but that’s a different story), sometimes I feel like sending away is cheating. You make this great quilt, and this it gets sent off to a certain famous long arm quilter, and you get published in a magazine…but you didn’t quilt it. You just designed and put it together. I don’t know. Obviously people feel otherwise because it’s commonly done. Especially when they are busy. I’ve noticed that as soon as Market it over…the two days or so that you can “relax” around thousands of people, you are working on the next Market as soon you get off the plane.

    I always want to enjoy this. I never want to become jaded. I also want to learn how to sew clothes for myself. Unless I was going the long arm quilting, I just don’t think it’s for me to send it off. But that’s my opinion, and I may not know what it feels like on the other side.

    • Liz Therrien says:

      Hi Karrie,
      I can certainly understand that your ideas about quilting and finishing a quilt come from your Grandma, who sounds like a terrific lady. But let me give you a different perspective about how I see it.

      As Chrisa said, everyone has their likes and dislikes – their strenghs and weaknesses if you will. While I can piece almost anything, and can be very precise about the finished top, I cannot machine quilt in a free motion way. I have tried, tried and tried again, and it just doesn’t work for me.

      So for me, after all the hard work I’ve put into the piecing, I don’t want to ruin the top by trying to machine quilt it myself. And, the long armers that I send my tops to do such a beautiful job with the quilting that I feel they enhance what I have already done. I would rather accept that I can’t quilt myself and have someone else do it, and make my tops look much nicer in the end, than try to do it myself and be unhappy with the result.

      Also, while the quilting does certainly add to the quilt, there is more to a top than just “putting it together”. Ask anyone who has pieced a Bethlehem star, or set in seams like Attic Windows, or the Drunkard’s path with curved seaming throughout. They may just put it together, but it is a long process in itself.

      Finally, some of us make quilts for various reasons. I have a LARGE family and have a goal of making a quilt for everyone. At this point, that # would be 81 quilts for just my brothers/sisters and their familes. So, the time spent on quilting takes away from the time spent on getting another top done. And trust me when I say that when each one receivies theirs, they don’t care who machine quilted it. They only know that I put my love and energy into something for them and that it shows how much I love them.

      Take care and I hope you learn to make the clothes you want and the quilts you want in the way you want. That is what is so great about sewing/quilting/clothes making. It is your own statement that you put into whatever you make,

  33. Marie says:

    Great post! We all need reminders of the things that are important to us and those that are not!! It certainly is about having fun. Thanks for the inspiration.

  34. julie says:

    AH! I feel pretty much the same way..i love putting fabrics tgthr and creating a quilt…and i love to quilt them myself..and i don’t have a stitch regulator or a big longarm..just me and my machine and each quilt i make i feel i get a little better each time. People always ask if i do i dont care for it lol. I am not a great perfect quilter..but i love it! πŸ™‚

  35. Darlene Crosby says:

    I admire quilters, especially the ones doing free motion quilting on a domestic machine! I *thought* someday I would want to invest in a longarm machine, but now realize I don’t want to do that. I will be happy when I can FMQ on my machine πŸ™‚

  36. Christine Sherman says:

    I was just thinking last night if I could pick one mentor to learn quilting from, it would be you! I have quilted my own from day 1. I don’t feel like it would be complete if I didn’t do the quilting on my own, that’s just my own feelings. I can only do straight lines so far. I’m going to practice free motion at least once a week, I want so badly to learn. That will mean taking the time to actually do it! I WILL get there!

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