Quilters are often asked: Why quilt? It’s a legitimate question. Historically, quilting was a utilitarian craft. People needed to make quilts to keep warm at night and generally, resources were scarce so the small pieces of fabric from used articles were sewn together to make a larger piece of fabric to create a quilt. Well, resources aren’t scarce anymore and we can buy perfectly warm blankets already made – cheaper than we can make them in many cases. So why do we quilt? Why do we cut up perfectly good fabric, just to sew it back together? And why do we like to do it so much? The answers can be many and varied, though perhaps the most compelling ones are for connection and self-expression.
What other art is there which allows us to not only show and express feelings, but also provides a physical sense of warming and comfort which is not present in other art forms. You can admire art on a wall but you cannot wrap yourself in it or be warmed by a sculpture. Quilts are an unusual medium of art expression which encompasses not only the beauty of design, colour and mathematics, but the element of comfort, caring and love in a therapeutic and unique art form. It is ours in the choosing and in the making. The design may be simple or complex, contemporary or an old favourite, the colours bright or muted. We may follow a popular pattern, yet we make it our own with our choice of fabrics. It may reflect a love of nature, a traditional heritage, a look into the future, or support for a cause. It might be an experiment of form, a chance to improve our technical skills or to use colour combinations new to us, or to challenge our capabilities. With those delicious multi-coloured bits of cloth, we can create comfort, drama, texture, illusion, design, and visual surprises!
Quilts mark joyful occasions like a wedding, or an anniversary, or the birth of a new baby. How wonderful to give something which may be cherished for many, many years. We also make ‘comfort’ quilts for someone close who may be going through one of life’s rough times such as a serious illness, or death of spouse. Countless people also make quilts, donated via one of the many charities out there, which will comfort someone they’ve never met who may be going through a difficult time, like veterans from the armed forces, sick children or sufferers of dementia and other serious illnesses. A quilt can also mark friendship, as when a group of friends make a quilt for a dear friend who is moving away. What a lovely way for someone to remember treasured people and good times. Some quilts are expressions of concern, maybe politically or socially; others are made to raise funds for an important cause, but many more are made simply for the beauty they add to a particular space and the simple joy of doing.
Why quilt? Any, or all, of the above!
Lesley Sinclair – Quilty Pleasures (Patchwork & Quilting No 1).