I suggest there is a corollary to quilting, but it isn’t complete or perfectly accurate. I’m not talking about buying fabric made locally (although supporting your local quilt shop is always nice), or growing the cotton with which to make your own fabric.
Instead, what I mean is that slow quilting is what many, many quilters must do just because we are so busy with the rest of our lives. No matter how many gizmos and gadgets we own to help speed up the quilting process, it just takes many of us a long time to get from concept to finished quilt — and we should accept that.
And what about when quilters choose to create quilts slowly, instead of quickly and fast? What about those of us who choose more complicated patterns or projects, or who prefer to work entirely by hand? Or to start a project by dyeing fabric and thread, even?
Thankfully, there is room in the quilting universe for everyone of every persuasion. It’s a rare treat for me to attend a class or workshop, but when the opportunity arose recently to study (again) with Cindy Blackberg, I was quite content to hand piece a feathered star block. Two and a half days of quietly, slowly putting together one of quilting’s more challenging blocks was a real tonic.
And something you may not know, if you’ve never hand-pieced a block before, is that it can be about as fast as machine piecing if you’ve got any experience, and, the finished block has a distinctive 3-D quality to it. I’m not a good photographer but I tried to show this in the first photo; those seams were lifting the block right off my ironing board, so I spritzed them with water and let the block dry for a day. Had this been machine pieced, the smaller stitches would have helped compress the seams and the block would have lain flatter before pressing.
Then I flipped the block face up and spritzed again, with another day for drying. If there had been blocking problems, this is when I would have pinned my block to make it square, but Cindy’s cutting method reduces bias edges to almost zero, and my block was true.
Talk about sharp points! There are times when hand work brings a certain precision to your work. I know, I know; machine precision is also eminently achievable, but hand work brings so much control — no machine between you and the result. Just your own body and rhythm.
Now that it’s complete I’ll contemplate what to do with my feathered star block (I’m sure I won’t make an entire quilt of these blocks, as satisfying as this one was to make), and that, too, can be a process as fast or slow as the quilter involved allows, requires, needs, or wants.
Isn’t this a great hobby? Bottom line: fast or slow, enjoy the time you spend quilting.