When Does Play Turn Into a Quilt?

encouragement improv play process quiltmaking Jun 01, 2022

The vast majority of my quilts start with an experiment. An idea or an inspiration and an attempt to translate it into fabric.

Sometimes they don't work. I might try again or I just move on. Other times I jump right in with all the excitement of a kid going to Disney. A lot of the time I count it as a success but life and other quilts get in the way. It might even be a teaching sample and had no intention of being a quilt. That's what happened here.

The first block was an example from my Traditional variations class. We were trying something in the class. It worked, but then I put it aside. As I was cleaning up my sewing room after the season's teaching I uncovered the block again, plus the fabric that I used to make it. I liked the optimism of the pink so decided to make another block for fun. Only because it felt good. I still had no intention of making a quilt.

Then I made another block.

Then I was making a quilt. Somewhere in the sewing of block 3 I turned this experiment into a quilt. I don't think it has anything to do with a magical number of blocks - no longer orphans but part of a family. I don't think it has anything to do with obligation either. Really, it came down to being excited by it. It made me happy, it gave me joy to make the blocks and to see them together. That joy meant I could start to picture what a whole quilt might look like.

There is not hard and fast rule that anything you start has to be finished, that all experiments must be quilts. There is also no rule on when that switch between play and a quilt happens. What is most important is letting your excitement be the guide. You want to be jazzed about what you are making, you want to see all the potential before you commit to the full quiltmaking process. It an happen in one block, 3, or even 20. And its okay if you stop at any time because the excitement is not there.

For now, on this quilt, I will be dying a bit more pink fabric so she can reach all her potential. In turn, she will help me reach mine.