Christa’s Soap Box – Make it Yourself, Make it Your Own

The more I blog about quilting, the more comfortable I have become in developing a sense of my own personal quilting style, and have been finding my “voice,” if you will. My philosophy can be summed up in this simple phrase, “make it yourself, make it your own.”

But what  does this mean, exactly?

First of all, it’s very inclusive. Rather than applying a set of rules such as “you can’t copy me,” which I would never do, I encourage my blog followers and students to discover what they like about a certain project I design – embrace it, and go for it! Sometimes that means their project will look very similar to mine. Other times, it may be completely different.

modern_logs_purpleA recent student making her version of Modern Logs. I love how she chose to make it her own through her choice of fabrics, layout and eventual quilting design.

By making a quilt your own it means you are in charge of it’s destiny from commencement to completion. You get to decide the colors, the pattern, the style, the fabrics, and the means for how to make it. You can decide how long you would like to take to complete a project. This means you get to work at your own pace, not mine. I’m there to guide and encourage, but not to dictate.

Making it your own is also very liberating. For example, I may choose to press my seams open (because I have the time and prefer a flatter look), whereas you may be in a hurry and need to quickly press your seams to one side or another and move onto the next project. Both methods are exactly right as long those utilizing them are happy about it.

grammieqOne of my quilt along followers with her version of Modern Trees. I love how she embraced the improv aspect of the design and chose scrappy pinks for the background!

Making it yourself can have different meanings, too. For me, I enjoy the entire process of creating a quilt. From prewashing and starching my fabrics to machine quilting my quilts and binding them by hand, I relish every step. That is why I’m so keen to explain every part of the quilt making process in my tutorials and in my teaching. I try to make it seem as un-scary as possible to make a complete quilt. After all this is supposed to be fun! 🙂

I totally understand that finishing is not for everybody and I’m cool with that, too. Making it yourself can mean cutting, sewing or just playing with fabric for awhile. Some may enjoy designing and come up with dozens of virtual quilts that never get physically made. But does that lesson the importance of their art? Absolutely not. Remember that many times, the joy is in the journey.

20140715_qal_seasquares_lynnQAL follower Lynn’s adorable version of Sea of Squares. She worked at her own pace and finished this on her own time schedule, over a year after the original QAL began.

I often hear from blog readers who avidly follow my quilt alongs but never make the quilts. They enjoy reading about the process and get lost in their imaginations and the inspirations of others. I do the same thing when I purchase books about quilts I’ll never make. I still enjoy reading them just as much.

So I invite you to continue along with me on this journey of self-discovery. I find that the more quilts I make, the more I love to quilt. And the more I blog about quilting, the more I love to share my processes.

You don’t even have to agree with me and that’s ok, too – you can still be my friend! Just remember to be kind and courteous in any of your responses. It goes a long way. 🙂

What’s your favorite part of the quilt-making process?

30 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – Make it Yourself, Make it Your Own

  1. Melissa Dunworth says:

    I love this post. It wasn’t until I started designing my own quilts that quilting became my passion. I had always enjoyed making quilts, but it was the act of designing that made me feel free to do anything I wanted.

  2. Karen says:

    Love being able to do every step myself and incorporate my own ideas and inspiration, even if it takes longer. My mom just makes tops, and has her LAQ or me quilt and bind them… I find those much more difficult to work on cause we have different tastes.

  3. Susan says:

    I got interested in quilting about a year ago. I was retired and looking for something to keep me busy. I love looking at other people’s quilts and I can spend hours online doing that. I find I can also spend a lot of money on fabrics and patterns and I have quite an accumulation of “projects”. I haven’t found my own voice yet, and am still a beginner (self taught) – trying to duplicate what someone else has done because I want to make what I saw that looked so beautiful to me. During this journey I have bought enough quilt projects to keep me busy for more than a few years, and am beginning to have a few finished quilts with simple stitch-in-ditch quilting or simple straight line quilting. Per your recommendation I signed up for the Craftsy “Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot” class. I have no idea what to do with so many quilts – if I finish them al. They are so expensive that I don’t feel I can just give them to donation. I am beginning to feel like a hoarder, but having lots of fun. Thank you for your blog and quilt alongs. You set a good example and have a great attitude.

  4. Chelsea Huckins says:

    I really love every part except basting, that part always feels like a chore! Fabric selection, design, and quilting are some favorites. Cutting is reserved for moments of zen, those days when a zen garden doesn’t feel like enough . Cutting a new quilt is all I need! Although, nothing beats that moment you take a new quilt out of the dryer with all it’s crinkly goodness.

  5. Michele says:

    I so agree and wouldn’t the world be boring if every quilt looked exactly like every other one? My favorite part of the process is picking the fabrics. Imagining how they will all work together really gets my creative side going.

  6. Barbara says:

    My favorite part is the planning process. I love working on the color palette, choosing the design, and shopping for the fabric. It’s always so perfect in my head. Once I’ve cut into it and sewn and sewn and sewn, it starts to drag on for me. By the time I’m ready to quilt the thing I can’t wait to be done and onto the next design project.

  7. Susan says:

    I like all of it. My biggest problem is with so many fabrics to choose from, I have a problem deciding most of the time. The hardest part is cutting the fabric and sewing consistent 1/4-inch seams. I have not made many quilts because I have been a beginner for the last 10+ years. With work and other obligations and health issues I will probably always remain a beginner. But at least I enjoy it when I can. Thanks for all the knowledge you share and the way you share it. You are one of my top five bloggers.

  8. Pat S says:

    I took a basic quilting class at the local LQS when I started quilting. We all used the same pattern and made the same blocks, but we all chose our own fabrics. I couldn’t get over how completely different each quilt looked. With one exception, I’ve always chosen my own fabrics and I relish that process. I’m just beginning to make quilts without benefit of a pattern and hope to do a lot more of that in the future.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. Mary Ann says:

    I really like seeing a new pattern and then picking out the fabric for the project. I almost always choose different fabric than what the pattern is showing.

  10. Susan says:

    It takes me FOREVER to select my fabrics, don’t know why, but it does. By then, my sewing room is trashed. I love the piecing and the binding. I do not love the quilting or the prep. That’s why I have so many tops waiting. I am trying to do better. I have started using a serpentine stitch for quilting some tops. I love the way it looks and somehow it seems kind of quick. It gives a really interesting texture

  11. Pat Ensing says:

    Quilting is for me a great creative outlet. I will never live long enough to finish all my projects (simply because I keep buying new fabrics and patterns) but I don’t mind as it brings so much joy to me. It is also satisfying to see the look on the faces of thoes I gift. Thanks Christa for letting us enjoy your talent and be inspired by it.

  12. Lis Ostiguy says:

    It always amazes me that you can put ten people in a room have them work on the same project and everyone will create something unique. For me quilting is the adventure. I particularly enjoy the design phase, inspired by so many different things. I could do it 24/7.
    thanks for bringing us along on your adventure

  13. Suzanne says:

    I love playing with fabric, so fabric and color selection are my favorite parts. I have a large and growing stash that I love looking through to audition fabrics. It’s interesting how my tastes change over time. This spring, I made my first quilt out of batiks and fell in love with them. Currently, I’m making a lap quilt for my mom out of some old maple leaf blocks her mom had made in the ’40s or ’50s. This project is very moving as my grandmother is gone now. And I’m working on a quilt with Broken Dishes blocks made of ’30s fabrics which I love. I rarely start with a definite idea of what block or design I’ll make. I prefer to let the fabric color and design dictate that.

  14. Gabriella PettitGabiP says:

    The only two quilts I have ever completely followed from start to finish were the two classes I took the first year (2011) I started quilting. And both times, I felt the instructors were not happy with my fabric choices (both were very bold and colorful). I love having discovered the blogging world and being able to watch your all’s tutorials and than go make it mine! If I had to choose, my favorite part of the process is the piecing – the anticipation of the creative process coming together.

  15. annieb71 says:

    As always, well done, Christa. I am working with a very close friend who asked me to copy exactly a quilt in one of my quilt books. She wants me to use the pattern in the book and fabric that is a close to what is shown in the photograph, as possible. I talked to her and encouraged her; “let’s make it your own. Why don’t we find a little something to change here and there – even just something.” She wants it that way the way it is, because it works well with the decor of the room she intends to use it in. I have complete creative decision on the back. I will use some of the blocks in an interesting and slightly modern way, within the concept of the 30’s era in mind, because the front uses that type of fabric. I don’t think I can really do anymore.
    Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
    Hope you had a great vacation. Thanks for your thoughts.

  16. Kate from Australia says:

    I love the binding process because it’s the last step before enjoying photographing it and giving it to someone I love. I end up with sore hands and fingers from sewing the back of the binding by hand, but I don’t mind. I’ve found sewing the final 1/4 inch at each corner at 45 deg into the very point has made my corners even better than before.

  17. Mary Ann says:

    AS you say, it will be my quilt. I never follow the colors on a quilt. Right now I am prepping to do the MQG July quilt but I’m doing it in batiks, which I love. Plus I put myself on a fabric diet and am attempting to use only what I have on hand, It makes one very creative!

  18. charlotte m. says:

    For me, I have found that even when I start out to make someone’s design, it changes and becomes mine, somewhere along the way. Fun to see my quilt in your post!

  19. Ana María says:

    Hi Christa,
    i’ve been following you for a while now, and this blog post seems to have put my mind and my opinions black on white. I’ve been quilting for some 6 or so years and began totally self taught, then did some distance and face to face courses. i have never made a quilt from a kit or pattern. I simply cannot. I need to design it myself, choose the fabrics and the colours myself, calculate the size and quantities myself, etc. etc…It’s a pity i zm not in the USA, as I know I vould be the perfect student for you! Thanks for all your advice, inspiration and encouragement.

  20. Cynthia says:

    It all depends on the project I enjoy most of the steps of making a quilt but sometimes I get stuck on a step like What quilting design does a project need to enhance the finished item or I need 1 more fabric so I can start a project and I just can’t find it but always the binding is a pleasure to me. I think it is the final step of the project.

  21. Beth S. says:

    My favorite part is – all of it! I love picking out the fabric (but struggle with this part), cutting into a fresh piece of fabric and feeling the excitement of starting a new project, seeing it all come together, choosing a backing (I’ve started piecing backs which adds another layer of creativity), and finally the binding, which I’ve recently discovered is just as important as all the other elements of the quilt. But best of all, holding the finished piece! Yum!

  22. Sue says:

    I love flicking through books & magazines & planning all the quilts I’ll make “in my spare time”!! I have a shoulder injury at the moment so am restricted with what projects I start & how I go about quilting them. It’s made me look differently at what I can start (&what actually gets finished) so is probably making me tackle projects I wouldn’t normally try! I love reading your blog 🙂 thanks

  23. Jolly and Delilah says:

    I find I’m similar in many ways. I have shelves of books that I love to read, but doubt I’ll ever get around to making a single quilt from. I’d love to play around with other people’s designs a little more, but think I should get a few more quilts under my belt first. If nothing else, simply choosing your own colors and style of quilting means you end up with something completely different to the original.

  24. Susan says:

    I think my favorite part of the quilt making process is picking out a design & selecting the fabrics I want to use. Most times I seem to find fabric I love & then try to decide what I’m going to do with it. A fabric store is a very dangerous place for my wallet!

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