I started quilting when I was 24 and expecting my first child. It was 1984.
There happens to be a well-known piece of literature entitled 1984, by the way. Maybe that vintage book cover will help you think back.
I’m inviting you to remember how quilting used to be.
When I started quilting, I didn’t belong to a quilt guild because there weren’t any nearby. I subscribed to only one quilting magazine because the others on the newsstand were questionable—the lines around the templates were very fat, and even I knew that those were problematic.
There were no quilt stores I was aware of. The only quilters I knew were the two women from my church with whom I’d taken a beginner’s class, and we were all just starting out. We didn’t know enough to know how much we didn’t know.
My exposure to new ideas was limited to the arrival of Quilter’s Newsletter each month.
Fast forward to 2022 . My, how things have changed.
Today I belong to one active quilt guild and there are at least four others within 60 miles that I sometimes visit. On the newsstand, there are a dozen quilt magazines from the US and around the world.
There are 10 quilt shops fairly close by that I visit at least once a year, and some I visit as often as every month.
And now (in this I feel lucky) I know hundreds of quilters. And even if I wasn’t working in the industry, I’d be acquainted with dozens and dozens of like-minded folks. Quilters are everywhere.
But do you know what has changed my quilting life the most?
Yes ma’am, the world wide web has changed every thing about my patchwork journey. I’m not saying it’s all bad because, hey, I love the internet.
But today I am inundated with ideas.
I have fabric fatigue. I have patterns I won’t live long enough to make. I have books stacked everywhere. And I have rulers and gadgets and thread and six kinds of pins. I have thimbles and needles and markers and a die cutting machine.
I have coffee cups and drink holders and vintage sewing collectibles. I have a few dozen toy sewing machines. I have feed sacks and storage bins.
I own acrylic templates up the wazoo. I have enamel pins and charms and cutesy buttons. I have charm packs and jelly rolls and layer cakes, too. I have more sewing machines than I’m willing to admit.
I have quilting stationery and jewelry and t-shirts and socks and art and a clock (whoops, two clocks). I even have a lamp but that’s a story for another day. I was exposed to much of this stuff online, and clearly I was convinced that I needed to own it all.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
It’s excessive, there’s no doubt. But quilting is my joy and my identity, the place where I have found my self, truly and completely. A few people in my life, should any of them read this, will raise their eyebrows, but it’s true. Quilting is where I was born, where I reside and where I will die.
So is it a problem that my quilting cache is enormous?
I think each of us has to answer the question for herself (himself for the male quilters, and they do exist in surprising numbers). For me, the phantasmagoria is currently a problem for two reasons.
#1: I have run out of space. I have no more room for quilt stuff. And…
#2: I have run out of head space.
This is the biggie.
In the early days I only saw new ideas when my magazine arrived each month. There were just a few patterns inside and minimal advertising. By comparison, today I can see hundreds of ideas before breakfast. By the end of the day, I’ve processed thousands, maybe tens of thousands. I’ve surfed Facebook groups, watched Instagram stories and reels, and on especially bad days browsed Pinterest, too. I’ve scrolled ad nauseum.
And in true old-school fashion, I’ve also perused some of my books, paged through a few magazines and browsed some of the patterns I’ll never make. I am overwhelmed with ideas and it’s threatening to explode my brain.
It’s too much. It’s much too much.
I’ll save my conclusions for the next post. But for now, I want to know: Do you feel this way, too?
Thank you for reading!