Quilting involves much more than the creative activity of making a quilt. It is also about women coming together to share their skills and life experiences, often forming real and lasting friendships.
I remember leaving a place where I had worked for more than 20 years. Most of my colleagues were women and many of us had become close friends after working together for so long. We had supported each other through more than the usual work matters – we’d shared fears, worries, joys and triumphs. Leaving that environment was a wrench for me, not because I thought I’d miss the day-to-day duties of my job, but because I would miss this network of women.
Luckily, I’m a quilter. Quilting has always been about coming together to share, so immediately I turned to my quilting friends for support during this period of change. People of all backgrounds and ages come together at quilt gatherings, initially because of a shared interest, but they often realise they have other things in common. Even if you don’t bond with every quilter you meet, you can still respect their skills or learn from their experiences.
What can quilters learn from each other?
Quilting can be soothing and frustrating – just like life really. It is how we deal with these frustrations, make decisions and move on that defines us as individuals.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk about difficult issues when your eyes are focused on a piece of sewing on your lap. Stitching has its own rhythm, so if a response to a problem takes a while, your hands can continue to work in silence.
When quilters come together, they can listen in an active way and absorb what others are saying. This means new and interesting ideas can be soaked up and eventually used, even at a much later stage. Creative stimulation often takes place this way.
Sharing teaches tolerance and an awareness that we’re not better or worse than each other just because we’re different. Tolerating each other’s styles, mistakes and different ways of doing things can even lead us in new directions and present opportunities for growth.
One thing I’ve learnt is to not judge people by the way they look. All sorts of people can do the most extraordinary things and produce the most exquisite quilts.
A group of women can also nurture a wonderfully supportive environment. That is not to say there is no room for disagreement and that some won’t show their worst sides occasionally! In a truly supportive group, all members are encouraged to share opinions, and this can make for stimulating discussions.
Many quilters offer generous amounts of time in cooperative work, making raffle quilts to raise funds for community groups, or stitching quilts for people who may have little other comfort in their lives. These types of activities allow quilters to feel they are making valuable contributions to their community, as well as giving them the chance to come together and share their time and skills.
Many heads are better than one and often individuals have different ways of looking at the same problem. This is evident in the way quilters develop different methods of creating piecing and appliqué techniques. Asking for help is encouraged. Many creative relationships have been formed in the quilting world through shared problem solving.
Shared social activities
Quilters share visits to quilt shops, assist each other with fabric decisions and even help spend each other’s money!
Sharing is a positive aspect of women coming together and I often feel thankful that I can draw on this strength, particularly from my quilting friends. I am also grateful I can support them as well, because together, women can achieve anything.
Stephanie Knudsen says
Great wisdom and oh so true Erica
Having moved many times, countries , Aussie states and cities I have relied on the quilting world to settle into my new area
Children go to school and husbands have work colleagues but I have had to go out and find my circle of friends
I am so lucky to be a quilter
So true, Stephanie.
Monica Johnstone says
I can’t even tell my quilting story at a trunk show without mention of you, Stephanie and Brenda. You’re pieced into the quilt of my life. so grateful for that.
Aww Monica, thank you.
Wendy Husband says
What a wonderful piece you have written Erica.
You have expressed beautifully how all us quilters feel.
I have made such lovely friends in my quilting journey and continue to enjoy gatherings, shows and sharing with like-minded women.
What lucky people we are to be part of this amazing quilting life .
Thank you Wendy. So glad you have found your people, too!