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A little happier with Got Dots now that I'm working on the center. Stil

A little happier with Got Dots now that I’m working on the center. Still not feeling the IQ love, but I think I’m beginning to understand it better.

Sorry I didn’t post last week.  I was in a quandary.

Got Dots is not going as well on the long-arm as I had hoped, even though Cricket (and, to a much lesser extent, I) had come up with a border to put on it (a denser version of the quilting pantograph that will be the center fill.)

I like the way the top border turned out, especially with the evil thread I used, but I’m somehow… disappointed… too. Of course, that makes no sense, but it brought up a larger dissatisfaction I’ve been having with my work.

I don’t know if you do this, too, but I get much of my inspiration from looking at other quilts. Usually online but I do try to go to several shows a year (and not just to buy stuff.)

Working on some borders for In Full Bloom, Lenten Challenge BoB.

Working on some borders for In Full Bloom, my Lenten Challenge BoB. I figure I’ll keep adding borders until it’s “big enough” to put on a bed.

When I’m looking at a real quilt, I look at the overall effect and the decisions the quilter made, etc. I see good things and bad things and tuck away ideas for me to try on my own, later.  I do this regardless of the skill of the quilter or the awesomeness (or lack thereof) of the quilt. There is always something good and bad to be seen when viewing other people’s quilts.  I always learn something.

Unfortunately, with the big shows, like the Vermont Quilt Festival, the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival (which I only dream of going to IRL), and even A Quilter’s Gathering, really, really awesome quilts are hung and I do not learn as much.

It’s not because there’s not more to learn, but it’s because I fall in the trap of comparing what I’m doing with what they’ve done. And when I do that, especially with the ribbon winners at shows, I always come up short.

Now, I’ve always said I don’t like the densely quilted quilts that seem to be winning all the laurels these days, but that not strictly true.  Looking at them as if I were looking at a painting, I see the skill involved and I enjoy the play of the textures and thoughtfulness of the design.

Almost but not time to be able to take photos outside (so you can see the whole of Crossed Purposes (former Cross Roads.)

Almost but not time to be able to take photos outside (so you can see the whole of Crossed Purposes (former Cross Roads.)

It’s not, however, where I am going with my own quilts.  I make utility quilts.  I intend for these quilts to be used on a bed, flung over the sofa to be dragged over my legs when it’s cold, curled up on by cats. I see the quilting on these as an additional design element, but not one I want to stand out over and above the other design elements: the colors, the piecing, etc.

However, when I’m confronted by the beautifully detailed, densely quilted awesomeness I see at some shows, I shift into trying to do THAT with my quilts and it doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work because I have always intended my quilts to be utility quilts in the best sense of the word. Companion quilts. Working quilts. People quilts.

And by trying to change them into something they are not, I am just frustrating myself. I am entering into Quilter’s Existential Despair.

I guess I have to remind myself sometimes that these “showstopper” quilts I see at shows are designed for just that purpose and that it’s not the purpose of my quilts. There is a place in this world for all kinds of quilts: showstoppers, utility, traditional, modern, whatever.

Every once in a while I just have to remind myself, re-sort my thoughts about it, and just stop comparing apples to oranges.

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