Okay, it is still March and I finally squeezed in a newsletter for this month. You can read it here and subscribe to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox every month. I’ve been experimenting more with painted and pieced fabric, but still working through ideas.
This weekend I’ll be leading a quilt workshop at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts. This exhibition features nineteenth and twentieth century quilts from the collections of the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts presented in pairs for comparison. If you can’t make it to the exhibition, be sure to spend some time on the interactive website.
On Saturday we’ll walk through the galleries to study quilt techniques, then sit down for a hands-on sewing workshop to explore both traditional and improvisational techniques using various materials. We’ll compare the motivating factors for quilt makers during the past two centuries and discuss the relevance of quilting in today’s cultural landscape. No prior sewing experience required! Find more information here.
Pictured above (left to right):
Center Medallion, ca. 1930, Unknown American Maker.
Grandma’s Favorite Block, ca. 1990, Jannie Avant (American, born 1921).
Star Puzzle, 2001, Nora Ezell (American, 1919–2007).
Last week was my first time to attend QuiltCon. Although I only spent two days in Savannah, I was excited to see many amazing quilts and have thoughtful conversations with some of my quilting heroes. My lecture at QuiltCon was about moving beyond patterns, setting aside perfection in favor of perseverance. Among other ideas, I talked about ways to explore creativity by taking risks, being mindful, setting limits, and embracing mistakes. The Modern Quilt Guild is clearly a connected and supportive community that has helped revitalize quilting, but I hope we’ll continue to see creative quilters push the envelope even further in the coming years.
I’m headed to QuiltCon Savannah! If you’re there, check out my talk Thursday morning at 10:30 am.
Beyond Patterns: Explore Your Creativity with Fabric
I often find that sewing from instructions leaves me feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. In this talk, I’ll discuss ways to experiment with fabric, break through creative blocks, forget about the rules, and listen to your own voice. Our fast-paced, interconnected world can cause us to rush through life, focusing on the day-to-day tasks without stopping to reflect and create. I will offer practical tips for discovering and nurturing your creativity, plus techniques to begin your journey in experimentation. By viewing your sewing practice as play without focusing on the end result, you can develop your own ideas and explore fabric in an innovative way.
As part of my Make Good series, I’ll be featuring craft businesses that support their community. Local independent fabric shops often donate to charity, assist with community projects, and provide space for group meetings. This type of grassroots philanthropy that starts in our knitting circles and quilting bees can have a tremendous impact, connecting people and building community.
One such business that serves its community is gather here, a fabric and yarn shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Owners Virginia and Noah recently relocated to a new, larger space and have renewed their commitment to support meaningful issues.
A hate crime over the summer made them consider how their personal belief in equality is not just ancillary to their business, but in fact an integral part of what gather here represents. When a 12″ swastika was carved into their shop window, Virginia and Noah channeled their anger into action. They shared the incident on social media and received an outpouring of support from customers and neighbors. Virginia describes how she suddenly realized that her personal values were intrinsically connected to her business:
But in that one act of hate I realized that WHO I am, my identity is linked to WHAT gather here is. That swastika wasn’t just carved in our front window. It felt like it was carved on my body. On the body of my half-Jewish partner. WHO owns gather here is a public statement now. And acts of hatred in our community are immediately condemned. Our business has embraced making political statements because we cannot shy away from WHO we are.
Since the incident, they have raised money for victims of a local fire, collected handmade winter accessories for low-income families, supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, and now actively promote gather here as a welcoming place of inclusion with a 7′ tall cross stitch advocating hope, love, respect, equality, and community. And like many open-hearted businesses, they have posted a sign to let everyone know that people of all races, religions, countries of origin, sexual orientations, and genders are welcome in the shop.
When a member of a gather here knitting circle died unexpectedly last year, their group knit a memorial piece that hangs in the shop, reminding us that the connections we make through craft are genuine and meaningful. The places where we gather to make things can become social spaces, mourning places, and even centers of action. In this time of uncertainty, it is reassuring to see principles at work in business.