Last week I went through my many bins of quilts and made a large pile to donate. I love going through my quilts and remembering when I made them and looking at the fabrics, but also I love giving away quilts to make room for new. I gave away some favorites this time...but if I love them I know someone else will love them too. I met the sweet lady from the charity at a local quilt shop, and I loaded quilts and more quilts into her car.
"You made all of these?" she asked me in a nice but also a you are crazy tone. I just smiled, said "yep! I love to quilt!", and drove home. It got me thinking though about why I quilt.
For a long time I struggled (and still do) with the idea of making quilts for no reason. The frugal side of me argues that it's wasteful to buy fabric and spend hours to make a quilt with no specific purpose. Frequently I make quilts for new patterns, or to showcase a fabric line...but other than that I have no real reason to make as many quilts as I do.
On the other hand, making quilts is what I love to do. It brings me joy, and nurtures my creativity. It allows me to quiet my busy mind and just make something. I think it makes me a better Mom. So I keep quilting.
Why do you quilt? Do you quilt just for fun, or only when you have specific reason?
I finished up a large deadline last week and pulled these half finished Simplify blocks out of my closet. They were my test blocks when I was making the Simplify pattern. The fabric was a jelly roll of a fabric line called Tucker Prairie by 1 Canoe 2 (it's probably hard to find now!). It looked so pretty on my shelf I couldn't bear to unroll it for 3 years.
It was a fun, easy sew...and even though I have no use for this quilt, it sure does make me happy to look at it!
I get to show you new fabric next week! This line is totally different, and something I've been wanting to do since I started designing fabric. I'm super nervous to share it...eek!
It seems fitting at the end of this post to share one of my favorite thoughts about creativity...and a reason why I just keep on quilting!
"Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Well, since I just finished my 53rd quilt for this year, I can relate! I sew for business, for personal gifts, for using, and for mental health! The majority of quilts I make have no intended recipient or "purpose," but making them does wonders for my mental health! I can't wait to see the fabric reveal! Congrats!!
I totally agree...quilting or any creating is wonderful for mental health!
This post is very apt for me at the moment as I’ve just bought a gammill statler longarm and while learning how to use it I’ve finished 11 quilts in a month! But I like you love to make quilts and play with fabric and it soothes my soul. So I’m donating some to charity, listing some to sell and the rest is just in case or just because 😊😊😊😊
Yay for a new longarm!!!
Hi Allison, You are always inspirational and I love your blog. I first quilted (only a few years ago) because I thought to make a gift for my nephew that actually meant something. I then wanted the same for my children - a keepsake that had real meaning in our increasingly superficial world. I discovered (accidentally) the deep satisfaction in putting time and effort into creating an item that gives love and happiness and is useful at the same time. A hand made gift is soooo fulfilling. Not something I ever anticipated😀 Rena (Aus)
That is so true Rena. Handmade is so much more fulfilling and meaningful in today's busy world!
I keep making quilts because it makes me happy ! I love to mix up fabrics and colours, rather be sewing than doing anything else ! It is definitely a craziness that does no harm !
I quilt to make me happy. I don't sell quilts, I don't take orders from friends, I make what makes me happy. I used to try to do quilts that people wanted to match their room, or they saw and loved. I much prefer making what makes me happy. Right now I have 4 quilts using University of Florida fabrics for the University of Florida fans in my life. Two of the four I planned to do the other two were added by asking a question incorrectly. I have told people I can't make their quilt. I have put a hold on 2 different patterns because people loved the first one then everybody wanted the same quilt. I make things that give me a challenge, but also allow for peace. I have health issues so I never push myself. In the recent past I have drafted patterns for things I wanted to do. They are not perfect, but they are close to what someone I love wanted and gave both them and me joy. I give quilts away to charities because so many people have needs and I have so much. For a while at the beginning of the year I was trying to get rid of scraps and I have 3 quilt tops awaiting quilting as soon as I finish the UF quilts. TMI, but it boils down to making quilts for love of people who receive and joy for me in the making.
I love this...and that you quilt for yourself!
And......this is why I quilt too. Thank you for your lovey post Alison - it came at a perfect time. I too started to wonder about the sense of quilting - and then just passing them along to our local hospital. All I want is that they will be a blessing to some one. Lately though I've been urged to sell my little baby quilts, and somehow I almost stopped sewing - though I can see that I can't just keep buying fabric - even if I'm careful and frugal (sometimes) :) about it! It has become my mission though - and I feel, that as long as God gives me fabric and the love of quilting - I want to do it to his glory, and for those in need. Yes, sometimes it is hard to part with those special 'lovelies' - and I think, how could I do that, but I also have to remember - where would I store them all :)! So....that is why I quilt too.
Love this so much!
Little Quiltsong, I too have a problem letting go of my finished quilts. Initially it was my intention to quilt for babies, children and young adults. And, believe me, I do. But actually letting them go? Now that's a whole other ball game. Right now I have 10 lap/throw quilts awaiting giveaway but only when I finish loving on them, but definitely before it gets any colder.
I read your post early this morning and thought a lot before I decided to reply. Why do you or anyone have to justify yourself? You gave these away, thus enriching someone else's life in addition to your own. Not every hobby is capitalism in action! I quilt for myself and for gifts. I guess supporting an industry and local businesses also counts for some but , for me, it's fun and rewarding.
This is so true Ellen. I don't feel the need to justify myself to anyone else for why I quilt, but mostly it's an inner reasoning...figuring out why it's important for me to quilt or not and why I do it instead of other things.
I have been sewing since I was a little girl. Back in the early 80's my Mom, the person who taught me to sew, thought it might be fun for us, and a way for me to do something other than working, parenting, out of the house for the fun of it, take a quilting class at a local quilt shop. That class was one of those ta-da moments for me and I have been quilting ever since. I make quits for gifts or just because. I recently retired from a job with long, stressful hours, and I can say that sewing/quilting/bag-making was my sanity check. Now I can sew to my heart's content!
Thanks for your post, Allison! I started quilting while I was teaching. It was the perfect therapy after a busy day with my Firsties. I was frequently asked to make quilts to sell, but then it would become another job and I already had a very busy and enjoyable one. I made quilts for special people in my life, and now that I'm retired I have the pleasure of making quilts for charities too. It's the joy of watching how patterns and quilting make the fabric come to life. Quilting is just a very real part of me.
Yes I love the "joy of watching patterns and quilting make the fabric come to life"...well said!
I really love your thoughts! I think we all wonder why we are making something or why we should make it when we have no recipient or purpose driving us. I recently started a scrap pineapple quilt. I have such fun putting those blocks together and watching the transformation take place. It makes my heart feel full! I have no purpose for this quilt, except that I love the process.
I think the process is why we all quilt! Love this!
I too sometimes think I must be crazy to buy more fabric to make into a quilt that I have no recipient for, but then o remember how happy I feel and how satisfied I feel when it's complete and I donate to some charity. I continue to quilt to also build my skills. I find a challenging technique or pattern and will challenge myself to learn it or make it and once I learn it or complete it it satisfies my urge to create.
Love this Kara!
I quilt because I have to. I need to make stuff. I love to just sew. It calms me, focuses me and grows my visual abilities. It keeps me in contact with wonderful people- other quilters, by blog or in person at my guild. I never have a shortage of people who need comfort quilts. I get referrals from all over and feel bad I cannot meet all the requests. I love to put scraps together and have them sing. I love to cut yardage into bits that make a comfort size design. The purpose of a quilt is the making, seeing, sharing, and giving for me.
Beautifully said Linda! Thank you!
Great post. How generous you are! This helps with my guilt at purchasing fabric that may not have an immediate use, but that I am just drawn to 😉.
I am a bit older than you, 65, and I might add that quilting sure does give my brain some exercise.
I also think you have to be a maker to understand the drive to make!
Thanks for your inspiration...keep on making!
It definitely is good brain exercise!!!
My son died 5 years ago from pulmonary embolisms - he was 35 years old. Before he was born, I made a simple quilt of red, soft yellow and light blue gingham squares and a solid red gingham backing. In those days, we didn't have a way to find out the sex of the baby, so this was cheerful and could go either way. To my surprise, he became very attached to that little quilt -- he called it Baba from about 6 months old. In the winter when it was cold, I would throw it in the dryer for 10-15 minutes and then cover him up in his bed. It was so comforting he would fall asleep quickly. As he grew older he was active in football, basketball and baseball and when he got home from games he would shower and then lay down on the couch with his blanket and relax a little. One year in college he took his blanket with him for a quarter to show his friends -- they all loved it. When he passed, we place his folded up Baba under his arms to comfort him (and us). Since he was an only child and didn't have any children of his own yet, you can imagine how lost one can be. Many of his friends were having children and it came to me that I could make quilts for their babies to in some way keep Jeff's memory alive and hopefully pass on the love and tradition of a handmade quilt. So far I have only made them for his friends children and few close family friends -- about 30. They have been much more complicated and intricate than Jeff's quilt and I have loved every minute I have worked on them. I remember all the wonderful, fun times we had. I haven't made one for myself yet, but when I retire I will definitely make one or two just to remind me of my son and the comfort a simple little quilt brought him throughout his life.
I'm so sorry for your loss Jayne. That is such a beautiful way to remember your son and keep his memory alive. This brought tears to my eyes, thank you for sharing this with us!
Jayne, what a lovely way to remember your son. I'm so sorry for your loss. Giving to others is such a powerful way to memorialize your loving boy.
I quilt because I have to. I need to. I love working with the fabrics and picking out the colors. I don't always have a recipient in mind when I'm making a quilt, but I almost always gift them to friends or family. There always seems to be someone getting married or having a baby! I make donation quilts for charity too. I can't wait til I'm retired and can do this full time! Congratulations to you on donating your lovely quilts. I think quilts are meant to be loved and can't imagine them in bins without someone to cuddle them!
Thanks for the inspiration and the great designs!
Thank you Tammy!
11 years ago after my last daughter got married I decided I needed a hobby. A co-worker quilted so I took a class. WOW! I was hooked immediately. Now her room is my quilting room!! I enjoy thinking about what to make next, buying fabric, and making a quilt. I always have something in "the works". I do enjoy making quilts for the local hospital pediatric floor. My grandson has received several when he was in the hospital and I like "paying it forward". I hope my children/grandchildren treasure them forever.
I love this Debbie! We've been quilting for about the same amount of time!
I quilt for similar reasons! It helps me de-stress, release some creative juices and I love making things with pretty fabric. And I agree, it helps me be a better mom if I can be refreshed by a little sewing before tackling kid-issues. I do a lot of quilts for Project Linus and have now gotten my mother, my aunt and my grandmother quilting for their various chapters too!
Keep up the good work and i can’t wait to see the new line! I loved Good Neighbors and still have some in my stash I can’t bear to cut up yet. Happy quilting!!!
Thanks Kristy! I love Project Linus!
Thank you Allison, for the beautiful quilts donated to our Project Linus chapter! Many kids will receive blankety hugs because of your generous and loving heart. We are grateful.
Project Linus Chapter Coordinator
Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap & Mason counties - WA
Thanks Claudia! I'm glad you got them! I had so many to give away some to the Seattle chapter too! If you ever need quilts I'm your gal!
Thank you for supporting Project Linus. I'm the Northern Virginia Chapter Coordinator outside of Washington DC. We could not fulfill our mission to provide homemade blankets, afghans and quilts to sick and traumatized children in our area without generous and creative people like Allison and Kristy. Please keep on quilting!
Yay I love that Annabelle! Thank you for being a chapter coordinator...that's a lot of work!
I love ur quilt story!! Mine is similar.. I am a mom of three and I love quilting!! It brings me joy and is my therapy..really!!❤️😊 my grand mother actually taught me how to sew and I want to pass the love down to my children. It’s something no one can take away and has allowed special memories in my life! Thanks for ur wonderful inspiration and ur quilts are so lovely!!
Thanks Amanda!! It's definitely my form of therapy with small kids!!
It was so good to read your post because I share your (and so many others) sentiment of why I make quilts. Because I love to. I, too, struggle with the cost effectiveness but I just love making quilts. I make them as gifts and if I am asked to, but mostly just what I like; colors, fabrics and patterns. I am glad to know that others feel the same way and just keep sewing. I rarely read full blog posts and I never respond but this spoke 100% to my own musings on "why I quilt". Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you Barbara for the comment and I'm glad you found this post thought provoking for you! I too love putting together the colors and fabrics...it brings joy!
Think quilting is a relaxing, creative-art outlet. The same way my daughter draws and paints piles of canvases, I quilt!
I just love fabric and love to put quilts together. I too struggle with the necessity to make another one but then I see a pattern like the one you just showed us that's coming out and I I have to make it. Right now I have about 5 tops that need to be quilted. I just love cutting up fabric and making it into a quilt. My sister keeps asking me why do I keep making quilts who am I making them for? I love your patterns I have many of them and I love following you on your blog. Can't wait to see your fabric line.
Haha your sister sounds like my family...always wondering " who are you making that quilt for now?" LOL. Thank you for the sweet comment!
I love fabric! It’s like art to me. I don’t quilt as much as I should because we are moving so much. I sure look forward to your new line. I have started selling a little of my fabrics, to have money for new ones. I make very little, but I feel better to buy something else.
I love fabric too! Thank you for the kind comment!
I have my doubts about guys who fish. They catch a fish and then they throw it back??
I think you have to be engaged in a hobby to understand why a person does it.
Like many a tshirt, tote bag and hashtag says, "Quilting is cheaper than therapy."
Oh we've had many discussions about "fishing stuff" in our house. I have my quilting stuff, and Jay (husband) has almost half a garage of fishing stuff! We are both happy! ;)
I think about this question a lot! Yes I quit because I love it and I’m a much better person using my creativity in this way but I do question spending money on fabric (and all the other stuff!) just to give it away. Fortunately we are blessed and this is something I can do but should I be doing this? Is this a wise stewardship of our funds? I have started donating here and there to church fund raisers and I have always loved to gift quilts but there was recently a quilt that just didn’t raise as much $ as I’d liked it (small town I guess) or there was one time I didn’t even receive a thankyou for a beautiful baby quilt (and I tell myself it had to be an oversight because it is not like this person). I truly believe we are to give and not count the costs but I just wonder if those are signs telling me to back off a little, maybe put more time into my family or housekeeping? Just thoughts. The one definite is that I just know it is something I’m meant to do because I love it so much. Maybe I should quit thinking and just do and let it work itself out!! Lol! I do just try to keep my eyes and ears open for the need.
Think about it: Heavenly Father creates. I think it is part of our divine nature and that is why we love making things. It is satisfying and fulfilling, and it does make us smile when we see a beautiful finished project. Can't wait to see your new line!!! Hugs, H
Mary on Lake Pulaski
I was just asked this week by my sister if my husband gets upset by my fabric habits. I laughed and told her that he knows quilting feeds my soul. I rarely have recipient in mine for my quilts but they all find a good home. So blessed to be able to do what I love. Your post is speaking to the choir!
Your little peek of fabric has me watching!!
Haha this is the case in our house too. My "quilting" makes me a nicer wife...and he has a garage of fishing stuff that makes him just as happy! ;) Hope you are doing well Mary!!!
Why did Picasso paint? Why does Stephen King write book after book? Why do designers design clothes? Why do musicians write music? People do what they love and when they love what they are doing, they want to continue doing it. I have hundreds of quilts and I just keep making them and giving them away. It's what I love to do and it sound like what you love to do also.
So true Kate! We all create in different ways!
I quilt because I love it! I often buy fabric or a pattern because I love the look. It's great to look for a pattern in my library to go with the fabric I bought, or to go shopping in my stash for just the right fabric for a pattern. I rarely make a quilt with someone in mind, but something always comes up that I know I was meant to make the quilt for that person or fundraiser. I love making baby quilts for new babies and I've given many comfort quilts to friends and acquaintances with cancer. When I donate quilts to fundraisers, I prefer that it isn't a raffle. I want to know the quilt is going to someone who wants it, not that it was a random draw and the person may not like it. Sometimes we just have to quilt. Thanks for sharing your lovely creations with us and giving us the inspiration to make more quilts!
Thank you for your comment Paula!!
I quilt because I love it. I have just finished my very first quilt top for myself. I make quilts for all the children in my life, even peripheral children that I am not related to. Everyone is always so excited. Once I get caught up, I plan to make community quilts. I try to make my 3 granddaughters one every year so they have a nice collection by the time they are grown.
That is so beautiful, and they will all have a wonderful stack of quilts to remember you by!
I have a neighbor, a fine woodworker/furniture maker, who has branded himself as “John Doe, Maker of Things.” What a perfect name! I wish I could steal it from him. I quilt because I have an urge to make things. I quilt because I have a strong urge to keep my hands busy (I piece and quilt by hand). I have always had a need to express myself through my hands. Through my early 20s, that outlet was piano playing; since then, it has been quilting and sometimes knitting. I don’t worry about the purpose of my quilts; that is secondary to the creative process.
I love that name! Expressing through our hands is a great way to think about it!
I have not finished that many quilts yet, but to have such a beautiful picture of a stack of quilts. That is also a nice reason :)
That is true!
What a fabulous pile of beautiful Quilts you donated Allison. Great 👍🏼!
Sometimes I make quilts for a special someone but mostly I Quilt because I enjoy it and like you donate many of my quilt. I also enjoy doing that.
I laughed when I read you are putting together your Simplify Quilt blocks as that is what I am making now and will give to a friend.
How funny we were working on the same thing at the same time! Have a great day!
I love to quilt because it’s an outlet for my creativity, I love to give homemade gifts and it helps me to relax but I really don’t want my hobby to end there. I want to use the gifts God has given me to be a springboard for ministering to others. For me this means God would have me to open my home/sewing room to guests and so I teach sewing/quilting lessons for free to young women at church and to young girls from my children’s school. While the young women are here I seek to redeem the time we have to talk and we disuss important life issues, ask them about their needs and how I can pray for them. It’s a blessing to share the joy of sewing with others so that my interest does not become an end in itself.
What a beautiful service you are giving others to teach them how to sew! I still need to work on teaching my own kids how to sew ;) It takes so much patience!
Thanks so much for this post! It really spoke to me!
Thank you for reading it!
Thank you for asking! It is definitely for my mental stability although it is not cheaper than traditional therapy. It really feeds the inner me and I need that in my crazy life. I give mine away as gifts or donations. I have never kept one or made one for myself. I keep saying I'm making the next one just for me to keep but it hasn't happened yet! I've probably made close to 50 quilts, almost all baby or crib size over the past 4 years. I just love the process of it. I love each one I make while they are still mine but send them off to other loving homes after I've taken pictures of them. Thank you for this post as it has validated for me that it is ok to quilt for no particular reason other than I just love it!
Haha no...quilting is definitely NOT cheaper than therapy! I totally relate to it "feeding the inner me"...I feel that too. Also I think you need to make a quilt for yourself....just one at least! ;) Have a great day!
I think the world is a better place because of people indulging their creativity through music (thank you Mozart!), art, architecture, writing, knitting, photography, and yes, quilt making!
I am hosting a learn to quilt charity quilt along right now. I am on week 2. It lasts 7 weeks. I am teaching the basics from start to finish.
For every quilt donated and they tag me their name gets in a draw. I also put up one 5 inch square for my pixel heart quilt that I am making. When I get all the tags I need, I will make up the quilt and it will go in a draw from all the recipients. One of those generous donars win the quilt!! Want to join us? I have learned so much from you over the past 8 years that I have followed you and been inspired by your projects and beauty you have put in the world.
What a fun idea Dara! I definitely don't want to take entries away from others that might need a quilt! That is a great idea though...I might need to copy it! Thank you for your kind comment!
Thank you for so eloquently summing up why creating “for no specific purpose” is part of me!!!
Hooray for fabric!!
Quilting brings me JOY and that is reason enough to make quilts, right?! Just like you, when I have time to spend doing something I love, it makes me a better mom ( I started quilting when I had a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and an 8 year old and when my husband would come home I would tell him: "Tonight I need some time in my quilt room." He always understood and provided me that much needed alone and creative time. Those kids are now almost 19, 21, and 26 ( plus we added another one who is 11) and I don't think they have ever one day resented my "quilt" time.
Haha...I totally understand "needing time in my quilt room". Luckily we have supportive loving husbands who didn't mind if we snuck away! ;)
I quilt for the therapy of it. I've been sewing since 8th grade and quilting since the 80s. I love the creativity of it and the use of color from the fabrics. I may have to donate some of my quilts too as I usually just make them for no reason except liking the pattern. Love what you do and a that you're donating too.
I quilt for fun. Just the act of creating something gives me satisfaction.
What you said really resonated with me. I love to quilt. I have lots of quilts in my....
I’m so glad I’m not the only one who quilts just because it makes me happy! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your baby zig zag quilt was the first one I made many many years ago and it’s what started me on the journey of modern quilting. So glad we have this online community of quilters! And I LOVE that quote! His words always inspire me.
Me too! I'm so thankful for this online community and the inspiration and online friends it provides me!
This is a beautiful post Alison. And thank you, as it came me cause to reflect :) I to love to quilt, and I love to be able to give quilts away and wrap the world in quilty hugs ;) And I can't wait to see your new fabric line!!!!
I quilt to help others. Thank you for this post. I'm in the midst of making string blocks today. There is a 10.5" string block quilt drive going on for Hurricane Michael victims. It's in the very early stages, since the Florida communities are in dire need of just basics at the moment. However, a handmade quilt will be helpful at some point down the road. i've already made 15 blocks for the Alabama church that is organizing this. This is why I quilt because it makes me happy and I get to give to others.
What a great way to give back and thank you for your service and time you are giving!!
I also love to quilt and have been doing it for years. I often ask myself the same question and your thoughts help me to answer it. I do it because I love it. I love to try new patterns and make my own patterns. I have time. I just need to find a place for all of my finished quilts. I have started donating. Thank you for the post.
I'm not great at quilting difficult patterns... I go for simple and scrappy quilts. I do other sewing... like making wedding dresses, clothing alterations etc... My dear hubby and I work with the ysa ward. So, I tend to do alterations for the gals who are getting married from the ward; or sometimes they refer someone to me. It's a joy to be able to help... and not cost them an arm and a leg. But, like you say being creative helps to settle my thoughts. Enjoy! One day... who knows maybe you will see someone who has a quilt you made (one you donated!) and it will add to your smile!