I have been spending some time back in the studio, working on some small applique quilt projects that I had started quite awhile ago.
I will be the first to admit, that when it comes to applique and quilting I am a complete novice. I am a wanna-be quilter, but in quilting, like every other handiwork I do - I am sure I am not "following the rules".
Like all crafts that have been handed down through the generations - all of a sudden there are rules about the right and the wrong way to quilt. Who made these rules? Quilting began hundreds of years ago by women who had no more basic tools than a pair of scissors, a needle and thread, and two hands. Quilting was a basic as cutting whatever fabric that was still strong and useful enough into pieces, sewing those pieces together putting some sort of filler beneath it and attaching it to a backing. Some early quilts didn't even have the layer in between - they were only what we would call a quilt top today.
Women used their imaginations, or used nature to give them inspiration for the patterns for their pieces, and then they used their basic sewing skills to turn those pieces into quilts. Beautiful quilts too!
That has changed now. Quilting has become a multimillion dollar business. I have nothing against the quilters who have developed this craft into such a popular activity, but I do object to the notion that in order to quilt one must be caught up in all popular methods of today's quilter.
I am not interested in becoming one of those type of quilters. I don't want to take lessons, because I don't believe in order to quilt you have to attend classes. I don't want to buy expensive quilting machines and every accessory available, or even invest in thousands of dollars of fabric. I don't even want to join a quilting group. None of that interests me in the least.
I have one cutting board, one so-so rotary cutter, a couple of rulers, a couple of pairs of scissors, and two sewing machines - one very old, and one newer, but very basic. My fabric stash consists of scraps given to me, or left over from other projects. I have no yardage of anything. I have some batting - again given to me by someone who was throwing it out.
I will buy the occasional pattern, as I do for any work I do - but I almost never use the complete pattern, or use it in the way it is published. I use it as a guide to start, but I almost always veer off on my own somewhere between start and finish, putting my own imagination and skills to work to make something that often turns out nothing like the pattern I bought.
I have frustrated more crafters than I can count by always changing patterns to suit myself. It's how I work... I have a very hard time following someone else's mind ( pattern) when my own is in my head screaming to get out!
Here are the projects I am working on. This one to the left is a pattern I bought. I think I showed this a couple of months ago, I had it cut out, but now it is fastened down and I have begun appliqueing the pieces to the background fabric. This is myself and my two oldest and dearest friends whom I love more than life itself. This pattern is actually called "Supporting the Girls", by Darla Royal and was created as a Breast Cancer Awareness piece, which is very fitting because two out of three of us have had breast cancer. This will look a lot different once all the fine details are added. I actually didn't change a thing about this pattern as it is perfect just as it is! I just suited the colours of the clothing to match the personalities of the women I had in mind.
I didn't want to applique this piece until I had practiced on something else so I created the barn scene below. No pattern really - just some pictures from a colouring book I used for ideas and my own pieces I drew by hand.
I have spent the last few days appliqueing it all on the background, and now it is almost ready to be quilted.
I have to embroider some detail on some of the animals and buildings - yes, by hand... I don't see the need to buy a machine for that either!
And so without any classes or spending a lot of money - I am quilting! I am starting with small projects such as wall hangings and table runners because I believe when you start something new it is so encouraging to actually be able to finish it. Small projects help you do that. But beware - just because these projects are small does not mean they are quick. It took me quite a few afternoons to cut these pieces, adhere them to the backing, and then quite a few more to applique them... and the projects aren't done yet!
I know there are a lot of people out there who really want to try this craft, but have been led to believe that they need classes and special tools. You don't - all you need to do, is start. If you make mistakes - start again. There is no wrong way or right way to do it... even if the experts say there is.
I am falling in love with this idea of creating pictures with fabric. I have a whole lot of ideas running around in that empty brain of mine. Can't wait to finish these, so I can get on to the next ones!