Quilting is still a thing. Really it is.
Did your grandma or great aunt quilt? Do you remember playing under the big frame set up in the living room while they sat around it gossiping and quilting by hand? No? Me neither. My grandma worked at a department store and didn’t have time for that kind of thing. But that’s what a lot of people think of when they think of quilting. And yes, there are a lot of grandmas who quilt. But they are not the only ones. Recent years have seen a resurgence of quilting as a fresh, modern hobby for all ages.
From the Bad Ass Quilter’s Society to the Modern Quilt Guild, quilting is not just for grandma anymore. Yes, grandmas are welcome in the above mentioned “places” so don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s just that the world of quilting has opened its arms to quilters who may not fit the stereotype.
Why a quilting resurgence now?
Okay, so before I go on, check the tagline on the top of this blog. See it up there? Just under Super [Quilty] Mom? Where it says “Rants?” Yeah, that right there is my disclaimer – I will rant. I don’t have time to find you the stats, this is my opinion. But I have been quilting for a while now and I think I have a fairly good pulse on the industry.
So why now? Or more specifically why have the last few years seen an uptick in quilting? I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say it’s the world wide web. With the likes of Facebook quilting groups, blogs, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. it is easier than ever to connect with quilters all over the world. It’s easier for designers (fabric and pattern) to build their brands and find an audience. And with big (okay monstrous) events like QuiltCon West and QuiltCon East, and smaller ones like SewTopia and even quilt cruises, quilters are able to gather in person and meet all of their virtual quilting friends and their favorite “sewlebrities.”
In addition, Craftsy and similar sites offer high quality online sewing and quilting classes. There is also a plethora of free and affordable tutorials available on hundreds of blogs, such as Stitchery Dickory Dock (just to name one off the top of my head – her Sugar Block Club is AWESOME!) and an abundance of online fabric shops that carry fantastic lines of fabric. Put all of these together and you have a perfect storm for a quilting resurgence. I for one am thrilled, albeit occasionally overwhelmed, by everything that is out there. It’s encouraging to see that the craft I love so much isn’t dying.
Honestly, I was worried there for a while when I would go to my guild meetings, or to quilt shows and I was literally the only person under the age of 60. I was worried about our future, worried that in 10 or 20 years our quilty world would fade away. Luckily, now – nearly 15 years after I started quilting – I’m not so worried about the industry in general. But I still have some concerns.
What about quilting in the “Real World”?
I still think I might be the only quilter under 40 (okay, under 41) in my town. And that’s okay, really. This isn’t an ageism thing. I love older quilters. I learn from them all at time, they run the full spectrum from uber-traditional to modern with a capital “M.” I love to get their opinions at my LQS (that’s Local Quilt Shop), sit next to them in classes, and visit with them in the hall of quilts at the county fair. I don’t see myself as apart from them, so don’t freak out if you happen to be an older quilter. I was just genuinely worried about the future of quilting there for a while, because even quilters don’t live forever.
So while I’m no longer worried about the future of quilting in general because it is making a roaring comeback, I do wonder about how to fuel that comeback in my own little corner of the real world. How do I reach the next generation or even my own generation? Because, while I love my online quilting community and I love my older quilting friends in town, sometimes it would be nice to sew with actual people in a similar place in life.
For now, I’m going to leave you hanging – like Clark Kent dashing off to turn into the Man of Steel – and my Super [Quilty] Mom-self will be back with a future post that addresses the few things I have done in this regard. In the meantime, if you’ve got any bright ideas, drop me a comment.