Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy National Quilting Day!

Today is a special day for quilters: National Quilting Day is being celebrated around the world!  Perhaps your guild, local quilt shop or a nearby quilt museum has an event going on?   Over at the Quilt Alliance they have a blurb on their page about the origins of NQD.  Sadly, the organization that started it, the National Quilting Association, is no longer around, having disbanded in September 2015.  Yet another casualty of the changes the quilt industry is going through.  For some interesting historical facts about quilting itself, check out this post from the Art Gallery Fabrics blog from last year's celebration.

I am thankful for the day because it's a prompt for me to get back in gear because I haven't quilted a lick in over a month!!  After being so productive for the first two months of the year, I think I ran out of steam.  I was stopped by a usual culprit: after basting the two birthday quilts for my friends, I hit a bit of a road block in trying to decide how to quilt them. 

I thought I'd take a day or two to think about what I wanted to do.  You know how that goes:  a couple of days turned into a week, then two and in the interim I started piling stuff on my cutting table and cluttering my quilt space so now faced the task of clearing it all up before I could work.  I also started getting involved with other things:  gardening season is coming up and I am taking a class and starting seeds for later planting.....

....and a new and long desired crafty gadget came in the house so I got diverted playing with that (more on that in a future post).  My husband has been on vacation for the last two weeks so I've also tried to tackle some of the items on the "Honey Do" list.  I could/should have worked on the other quilt projects I had going on along with the gift quilts but I had told myself that the priority was to complete the two gifts so I needed to focus on them only -- and then I didn't!!

It's ironic -- while the quilting has always presented a stopping point for me, the reasons why have changed.  When I started quilting, I set out from the beginning to be a machine quilter.  Early on, I'd get hung up because I was literally scared I'd ruin my quilts with my inexperienced stitching.  With each project, it would take a while to get up the courage to tackle the stitching and of course, in the end, things would work out satisfactorily even when I could also see room for improvement. 

Once I gained confidence in my stitching ability, the panic then centered on how to quilt the quilts.  There was a period when I read a lot of books and blog posts and watched videos on that topic.  However, the biggest leap was taking Carla Barrett's online "Quilt Whispering" course which really helped me break down how to look at my quilts to figure out how to choose to stitch them.  Along with that was realizing that there is no "one perfect way" to quilt any quilt -- for each one there are many options and you have to just choose one (or many) and go for it! 

Graphic courtesy of Sandy's "Quilting For the Rest of Us" blog

So now my challenge is to keep myself from getting hung up on that fine line between listening to the quilt and wanting to make the stitching the best it can be but not wanting to spend any more time on it than I have to.  However, I'm reminded now (as I consider where I am with these projects) that I won't know how much is "too much time" until I do it!

I had to clean up my quilt space recently so with that done, today will be a good day to get back into the mix.  There is stabilizing stitching I can do to get started and usually once I get a feel for that, my initial "whispering" ideas will come together.  If not, these gifts are now already so late that I'm now okay with going back to working on my other projects to keep myself busy if I'm not stitching on the gift quilts.  Judy over at Patchwork Times has another Quilt-A-Thon period coming up at the end of the month so now is also a perfect time to get myself in position for that too.

Hope you're stitching away for National Quilting Day!