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Quilt no. 012: Quarter Squared

I like to think of Quilt. 012 as Quilt no. 011’s little sister quilt.  This tiny darling, 30″ x 30″, was constructed entirely from the trimmings and leftovers from Quilt no. 011, because I couldn’t bear to throw away all of those triangles. This quilt taught me how to have serious patience when it comes to piecing. It also taught me that I should be way, way more meticulous when it comes to trimming flying geese blocks. My goal was, honestly, to use up of the leftovers from Quilt no. 011. I bought half a yard of fabric to bind it; everything else was leftovers. The quilting was simple, meant to highlight and complement the visual effect of the piecing. The back is a golden yellow linen look fabric that I bought from Lost and Fawned’s destash sale nearly a year ago.

Quilt no. 012: Details

I like to think it speaks for it’s self, which is part of the reason why I am rushing through the details of the quilt. But also because I’ve got some stuff to talk about.

I spend a lot of my non-quilting time thinking about quilting. Pondering color palates at red lights, turning over ideas about composition while doing the dishes, contemplating my newly discovered interest in improv piecing. One of the things that I keep coming up against is what to do with the quilts I’ve made. Sell them? Give them away? Hold onto them with the hopes that someone will want to hang them in a show?

I don’t know. I freeze up when it comes to figuring out how to get my work in front of an audience and/or monetizing it. I’ve never been compelled by the business of art; I’ve always just wanted to make stuff. My disinclination towards selling my work, in the past, has made me feel like a goddamn failure. I started making quilts because they felt like a purely creative endeavor, motivated by my interest in learning a new skill set and exploring fabric as a medium. Now that I have an ever-growing stack of completed quilts, it’s hard for me to not ask myself what to do with them.

Quilt no. 012: Back

I contemplate selling them, of being the artisan that I sometimes think I want to be. But I get stuck, tripped up in branding, pricing, advertising, doing shows and markets. I don’t know who would buy them, especially not at the price point that would compensate me fairly for my time. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to creative work that monetizing it might not be the answer. It’s not that I am lazy. Making for the sake of making means something different than trying to make a product that someone wants to buy. While I wouldn’t mind selling my quilts, I do not want it be my sole goal in making them.

I might end up changing my mind. I do that a lot. But right now, this is where I am.

Quilt no. 012

What has made this last year so good for me, in terms of quilting and creative work, is that I’ve found community to share what I’m working on. When reading about the history of quilts, I was struck by how social it often was. It was something that was I missing. I had it when I was at college and it petered out as everyone went their separate ways. I found it first on Instagram, I recently started hanging out with the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild and have met an incredible amount of smart, deeply talented people who’s work is outstanding. I am humbled by the fact that I get to hang out with them. While my life has been kind of a mess this last month, I am looking forward to attending meetings, having some time to sewcialize and hang out with creative folks again.

I feel more compelled to be a part of a community of makers and to find where I fit in to that community. I’m more interested in getting modern quilts out into the world and getting other people’s work seen, both by quilters and non-quilters alike. At this moment in my life, I want to be a part of something bigger than I am, rather than trying to get noticed as an individual. I think it’d be way more rewarding for me to, for instance, teach others or help put together local shows. I’d love to hear your thoughts, dear reader.

Quilt no. 012: Front

8 Comments

  1. First of all Shelby, this is a f antastic piece. You sealed the deal for me with the mustard quilt back . I completely get what you speak of. Community? YES. Defining a purpose for thes things we make is tricky. Giving them monetary value or getting them in shows is nice (and something I struggle with too along with the thoughts of pattern writing, etc, but we will make regardless of the purpose-the joy is in the process, the learning, the designing, no? Your work is so worthy of sharing-get it out there. I want to see it. Whatever comes continue sharing and learning and doing and teaching (I personally would love a hand quilting educational post from you.) Hillary

    • This is a gorgeous, gorgeous quilt. I love it so much!

      I was just talking with a friend about the ,”What do you do with all the quilts?” question. I have quilts that are just sitting in the closet, and that makes me sad. I can’t use them all, so I’ve thought about setting up a shop and trying to price them in a way that gets them in the right hands. I’m not sure when I’ll get there. I do know that quilting is a thing I do to be happy and to have community and to make something. Knowing that makes a difference.

      • Shelby Marie

        Thank you so much, Dorie! I appreciate your comments and feedback enormously. You’ve said it perfectly with “I do know that quilting is a thing I do to be happy and to have community and to make something. Knowing that makes a difference.”

        That is what feels most important to me right now. It’s hard for me to stay in the present, as I am perpetually dwelling on the past and fretting about the future. It’s comforting to know that I am not that only one who struggles with what to do with my quilts.

    • Shelby Marie

      Thank you, Hillary! The process really is the joy in making. I am glad to know that other people come up against the same questions; it makes me feel less like the doing is enough for right now.

      I have had a few people ask me about hand quilting lately and it feels a little bit like “Who? Me?!” I really feel like I am just starting to get a real handle on how to best do it. I will keep in mind a tutorial and/or hand quilting basics post for the future. I have a small quilt to finish piecing and put together in the coming weeks.

  2. Gosh, another lovely quilt! I’m in love with your style and, of course, your hand work.

    My quilting is a therapeutic outlet, a way to express myself in a community that silences me on many issues. And it enables me to join a larger conversation out there. So much of the work has too much meaning to me for a price tag and I kinda am wary about finding homes for them that are “just right.” it’s a difficult issue to grapple with. And I look forward to your decisions and adventures. Good luck!

    • Shelby Marie

      Thank you, Chawne! I appreciate your complements and feedback enormously.

      The value of a quilt, and art in general, is one of the hardest things to determine, especially in a medium that has such a specific audience. I hear you about finding home that are just right. On one hand, I have no say in what happens to quilt once it’s given away or sold. On the other hand, as an artist, it’s hard for me not to want to control what ultimately happens to it.

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