Thursday, June 15, 2006

Inspiration, Revelation

Last night I went to my guild meeting (The Berry Basket Quilters, Medford, NJ) because I heard that the owners of Bellwether Dry Goods in Maryland were going to be the speakers. I wish I could take credit for the beautiful quilt in this post, but it is one of theirs.

Bellwether is a company which sells antique quilts, new quilts from old fabrics and most importantly, offers the most amazing hand quilting services I've ever seen. Dick, the husband in the venture does all of the quilt marking, then the quilts are sent out to one of their contract quilters (they have over 100) and hand quilted. The majority of these quilters are Amish or Mennonite women and they range in age from 18 to 80!

Dick and Georgina Fries, the owners have the most engaging personalities. They must have shown between 50 and 75 quilts last night, many of which are for sale on their website. But, as I was taking copious amounts of notes, I came to a realization about my quilting journey and the projects I make.

Most of the quilts that called to my heart last night were very traditional, simple patterns, done in traditional colors. These are quilts in my "comfort zone". As I looked at them, I realized that I don't have to work outside my comfort zone. These are the quilts that sing to me, that make me want to do more quilting. Whenever I step too far out, although I often am pleased with the results, the quilts just don't find their way into my heart. As I looked at the beautiful hand applique (which they design from old quilts, then send out to Hmong women to applique) I knew that I needed to more of this, in colors I would be comfortable with.

I often feel pushed to work with bright colors as I read articles in magazines, thinking that if I don't try these new colors, new designs, new methods and techniques, I will be "behind the times" and out of sync with what is happening in the quilt world. I guess I'm easily swayed by advertising! It occurred to me last night that these antique designs are timeless...they are as attractive now as they were 75 or 100 years ago and I CAN make them and be delighted with the process and the result!

It was a revelation for me. I was furiously writing and sketching in my notebook, not thinking about what I was putting on the page. Quilts made with simple blocks were sketched, quilting ideas included. Here are a few of my notes:

Use up brights, get rid of them!

Simple blocks make striking quilts!

Sort stash by style...brights, comfort colors, neutrals

Dear Jane - make my own version with blocks I like. Why duplicate hers? Think outside the box...BE MAVERICK!!!

I came home all fired up and ready to sew. But...it was 10:00, I'd been up since 5:45 and reality set in, so I went to bed. I can't wait to get out of school on Monday and set to work in my sewing room, sorting stash, designing quilts in EQ5 and sewing. I'm so looking forward to summer!

20 comments:

Jeanne said...

Woohoo! Sounds like you're ready to set off down a new quilty path. Doesn't it feel good when all the ideas and inspirations seem to come together and catch at your heart!?
Jeanne :)

anne bebbington said...

You're absolutely right Carolyn - it's all well and good trying new things, but there's a lot to be said for doing the kind of work that you feel happiest with - one of the reasons I wouldn't like to have to earn my living doing commission quilts 'cos it is so hard working on somebody else's idea it you really hate it - go with your favourites you'll enjoy it so much more

Tracey said...

You're so right, Carolyn. I, too, have come to this same realization...AGAIN. When am I gonna learn to just *listen* to that voice though? I know when I was making up my recent patriotic quilt, I had so much fun in just making a simple pattern in the 'old-timey' fabrics. Yeah...that's what I want to do. :o)

Screen Door said...

What a neat lady you must be. You are so right. In today's life, we HAVE to do so many things that are not our choice, quilting should be a sacred thing done with your hearts desire.

Melanie

Tonya R said...

Good for you, taking inspiration from Jane but making it YOUR way. Hurrah. And using colors YOU love and blocks YOU love. Ignore those magazines....

The Calico Cat said...

I love Bellweather.... They have "exhibited" at the fabric store near where I work and at several shows that I attend regularly - Annapolis yearly...

I want them to ahnd quilt one of my quilts, but I want it to be a "worthy" quilt - know what I mean....

They probably did not name drop, but they do the quilting for some big named quilters...

JudyL said...

Good for you! It must be very "freeing" to have come to the conclusions you have. So glad you went to that meeting. I'd love to get to hear Dick & Georgina some day.

Judy L.

Judy said...

Wonderful quilt. I thinkwe often find ourselves pushed in way that we think will appeal to others and really we need to do what appeals to US. I have fallen in love with hand applique this past month and that's all I seem to want to do. It's okay to do whatever you want to do.

That sounds like a great program for your guild!

cher said...

yay! for realizing you can quilt and make the quilts you love in the colors and designs you love...great! If you want to send brights to me...those are my colors...I shipped all my 30's repros to a dear friend as I realized those were not my comfort colors :-)

ForestJane said...

You're a woman after my own heart. :)

I've been trying lots of different things, and even joined an art quilt group, just to learn new techniques, but I already know that I won't be doing anything that requires a large outlay of fabric, time, or money on an art quilt.

I finally realized that the things on my to-do list were pretty traditional... I want to make a two color quilt. I want to make a log cabin quilt, etc.

Passionate Quilter said...

Good for you to stick to your guns. I personally am a "bright, funky kind of gal" and I wouldn't want someone telling me that I had to like something different, just because that's the style right now. I still love the traditional quilts, but don't care to work the fabric right now. And isn't it GREAT that we can all be so different in our tastes of quilt styles, fabrics and quilting and still have a common bond of quilting? It would be mighty boring if we all made the same type of quilts!

PS..I sort like you do, I have a "brights" bin and then a traditional bin and neutrals.

Dawn said...

Oh your post is so inspiring and true! I"ll do something now and then once, then go right back to my favorite traditional colors and style! That quilt you shared of theirs is GORGEOUS! I'm so jealous you got to see so many!

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

I like your notes! I think they are like a foundation to a house - a foundation can be basic and maybe even a bit boring, but then you add to it and before you know it - there is a house! Same goes for fabric selections, patterns, blocks, etc. Start with a good foundation and you will end up with a quilt!

Cheers!

Evelyn

Laurie said...

oh dear...get RID of the BRIGHTS??? I don't think I could do that...they are my passion...but glad you were motivated...I could use that!
Hugs
Laurie

Finn said...

I'm so glad you decided to attend that particular guild meeting Carolyn. It's quite amazing when that light bulb goes on, isn't it??? I'm thrilled at your discovery...it's so important to make YOUR quilts, not what the market dictates! Hugs, Finn

quiltpixie said...

good to find your own style, whatever that is. sounds like the quild meeting was a great encouragement.

Mary said...

I'm also not drawn to the bright quilts that seem so popular. I do use brights in my donation quilts for kids but the quilts I love are either scrappy or traditional or BOTH!

YankeeQuilter said...

When I lived in Maryland I got a chance to see their presentation a couple of times. Their quilts are always cheerful. I'm glad you found your "muse."
Siobhan

Hanne said...

What a lovely post Carolyn :-) I agree wholeheartely. Do what you love the best with the fabrics and colours that sings to you !

Shelina said...

This is a great post Carolyn. You're right, you should make what you want, and adapt patterns to what pleases you rather than follow what "they" say you should like. I was thinking while I was making some Jane blocks, especially the ones where you start from the center and work your way out, that some of them looked great the way they were, without the next step being done. I thought "maybe someday" I would make the blocks of my own designs, adapting some of Jane's blocks. You are so right, now would be a better time than just following the pattern blindly without deciding whether I even liked the blocks Jane put in hers.

In case you are looking for block patterns you do like, there are other books - one about Amish blocks, one called Dutch Treat with applique like Delft tiles, and of course Dear Hannah. There is also an online site for Sylvia's Sampler that has more than 100 free blocks that I think are the perfect size and even include directions.