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Saturday, in the midst of what is to us, a heat wave, the thermometer topped out at 32 Celsius (89.6 F) and we had our first Quilt ‘til you wilt in our new location.  And what a treat it was!  The room has so much space - tables and chairs - for about 18 people (and their machines), has great lighting, lots and lots of electrical outlets, access to a small kitchen with microwave, fridge, a nice big sink, washrooms very close by and is air conditioned!  What more could we ask?  We only had a small group of five for our first ‘wilt’, but considering it was a beautiful sunny day in mid-July, we weren’t really surprised.  I’m sure in the Fall the numbers will swell.  Here are Kim, Marianne and Sonja busy with their projects.  Lois and I were manning the cameras! As you can see – we had lots of room to spread out!  This is a classroom in our local university satellite campus and because one of our members is a nursing instructor there, we don’t have to pay any rent for its use.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week about Prairie Quilter’s blog post “Another one bites the dust”.  When she initially posted her blog, I immediately responded with some of my thoughts, and I’ve read everyone else’s with a lot of interest.  Everyone had great responses, but I was particularly interested in the post by Kathy Hylton on Saturday.  She wrote about the gentleness of the craft and how it now seems to be ‘how fast can you get it done’, the hurried pace, the rush to completion.  It really came home to me Sunday morning when, in my in-box, I had an e-mail from Keepsake Quilting with the subject line “Quilting Quickly Fall 2014 is here with 12+ exclusive kits”.

And I think that’s part of the problem.  The magazines.  Lots of wonderful patterns.  And a kit for every one of them so you can get that top finished ‘quickly’. Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy the magazines and they showcase the newest fabrics, many of which I would never see if the magazines didn’t exist.  They often include directions that help me with a new skill and I like to see what’s new in the quilting world.

But for me, part of the enjoyment of quilting is finding a pattern that would be just perfect for (insert name here), going to a quilt shop, touching the fabrics, imagining how the finished quilt would look and feel with this fabric or that fabric, choosing just the right shade of blue or green to go with that piece that I bought three years ago with no set plan for its use, but knowing that eventually the right pattern would come along and I could make a beautiful quilt with it.  When it comes to bed sized quilts, I don’t buy kits because I want to choose the fabrics myself.  I want the finished quilt to reflect my personality or the personality of the person that the quilt is intended for, not the personality of the person who made up the kit. I have purchased a few small kits – for placemats or bags and other small items, and I do buy the kits that come with the paper pieced wall hangings I make, but for the most part, I’m happier buying the individual fabrics.  And if it takes me a year to finish a project, so be it.

Like all things, quilting is changing.  I could see it in the classes offered in my LQS over the past couple of years.  Machines that do everything – from the most basic of stitches to the most intricate embroidery were the hot item in the shop.  Many of the classes offered were for the ladies with embroidery machines and yes, they made some lovely items, but it wasn’t quilting.  And with the changes, I guess the buying habits of quilters are changing as well.  The small shop just can’t compete with the huge on-line presence of the fabric companies.  It’s rather like the small mom and pop store trying to compete against Wal-Mart and Costco.  I think we are the poorer for it.   

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Comment by Joanna liguz on July 16, 2014 at 6:04pm

Oh I love the space,,,,!!! So roomy.!  I agree with Prairie quilter...When we went to the Sewing Expo here in Raleigh, so many new things were up and I was kind of "not sure I want to start something new" as my whole sewing room is Traditional/Colonial....New things are great but I really like what I have been quilting. Most of all you need to be happy about your space and what you making..and besides.....getting together with a group you can share more with each other,,,and that make it all the more fun...Enjoy!

Comment by Sharon Reeves on July 14, 2014 at 8:57pm

Your post reminds me of our Project Linus get togethers. Our co ordinator  use to work at the local Fire Station and we got to use a big meeting room free of charge, because it is for a non-profit organization. She has since retired, but they still let us use the FS once a month. We have many tables, electrical outlets, donated fabrics to choose from and batting. There are usually about 25 or more of us there, but some just bring in finished quilts, tops or sandwiched ones to be finished. We get to choose from a wide variety and we have a really great time. I'm happy that you have a place to get together again.

Comment by Jodi Cramer on July 14, 2014 at 6:55pm

Interesting post. We have a group of 5-7 ladies that meets weekly at the town community center. One lady loves hand work & hand embroiders wildflowers on each block; one lady has an extremely limited budget, makes all her quilts from "found" fabric and is able to make unlikely combinations look wonderful; one lady gets a lot of her fabric from kits on e-bay, uses them in her own patterns and is a prolific quilter; one lady buys all her fabric new but only on sale (she likes to shop), then gives almost all her quilts to charitable causes, refuses to do any handwork except the final binding; one lady's DIL works in a LQS so she gets a lot of sale fabric from her; one lady does a combination of all the above, including the hand embroidery, and is able to do much of her quilting at work (lucky lady) so she is a prolific quilter too. Summary= I don't think there is any one reason, at least in our group, for anything quilt-related. We are very diverse. Except ALL of us enjoy the process of quilting most. No one is in a hurry to finish anything unless there is an outside deadline like a graduation, wedding, baby. We enjoy each other's company and take monthly road trips to quilt shows or shops just for fun.

Comment by Donna Sykes on July 14, 2014 at 5:47pm

Great room for your quilt group! I have a group that meets periodically in the fellowship hall at my church. We, too, have lots of room to  spread out and each have a full table to ourselves. I am with Prairie Quilter - I am trying to finish projects that I have in progress. Some quilters want to try everything that is new and exciting out there and then never finish anything. I like to see my projects through to completion (don't get me wrong, I have my share of UFOs). I have been hired a few times to make quilts for people and I either give myself plenty of time to complete the project, or better yet, there is no time limit on when the person needs the quilt. That way I can take my time and do a good job.

Comment by Barb/WI on July 14, 2014 at 5:25pm

What a great setup for your quilt group!  No doubt your numbers will grow as the weather cools, Christmas approaches, and word get out about your great space.

Comment by Prairie Quilter/NE on July 14, 2014 at 8:27am

Great post, Rebecca!  I'm so glad you found a suitable location for your quilt group.  I agree with  your thoughts on the current quilt culture.  Just my two cents' worth:  I have stopped subscribing to quilt magazines, stayed out of quilt shops, and really only glance at the quilting catalogs.  At this point, I just need to shop my own fabrics and patterns.  I have enough projects to keep me busy for a good, long while yet, so I admit I'm not doing my part to support the LQS at this point in my quilting life.  I tend to like the traditional quilt patterns, so I'm not looking for "new and different" either.  I also have several (ahem) unfinished quilt tops, so until those are actual quilts, I just need to prioritize and finish those projects.  Lately I seem to be procrastinating and spinning my wheels, so progress isn't being made on many quilting fronts.  I suspect I'll get back into the groove one of these days.  I tend to burn it up for short periods of time and then take a break until the mood - or a reason (like a graduation or new baby) - strikes again.  

Comment by Mary/ Tewksbury MA on July 14, 2014 at 8:17am

Wonderful location for your quilt group, plus you can't beat that price!!

I often read comments in some of the groups I'm in of 'How far behind" various people are in their projects and I have to laugh like it's a race or contest to get their projects completed. I realize for many this is their livelihood,  so for them yeah..projects need to be completed on time  or you're not going to be hired. But for most this is a hobby.  I do this for relaxation and to fulfill a creative need. I enjoy the process, finding a pattern, looking for the "right" fabric plus I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when I complete a project.  Never hurts to hear a compliment on your work either. We all have enough stress in our lives, your hobby should be for fun.

Comment by Pam/NY on July 14, 2014 at 7:08am

Great location for your group! I agree, the reason for a hobby is to relax and explore your talents...I also like the process of selecting my own fabric and often changing up the patterns. We all find our niche and there's a place for all! Often times the small businesses have made bad choices and cause their own downfall.

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