“Why do we make quilts?”
The reason has evolved as women have evolved in society. This practical craft of recycling clothing scraps to make warm blankets, has a history around the world from America to Japan and beyond, because fabric is precious and we hate to throw away something that can be reworked into something useful or beautiful.
Most women have forgotten what the Suffragettes went through to win the right for women to vote. That was one stepping stone as women began to dream about having their own careers, and throughout the Twentieth Century we remade the idea of what it means to be a woman in the world.
Today our daughters grow up in a world where equality is often taken for granted, even though there are plenty of women around the world who still don’t have the rights that our girls and young women assume are here for the taking.
I’ve been thinking about how quilting has evolved along with feminism. It has changed along with us – from a necessity to something that could be perceived as a luxury. (Buying fabrics and collecting a stash, making creative and artistic quilts, instead of using scraps for a patchwork blanket to keep out the cold.)
Sheryl Sandberg is on the cover of Time Magazine this week, and her book excerpt discusses how success can equal unlikability for women, and also how many women are still trying to achieve the impossible goal of ” having it all“. No matter how hard we try, we often will feel like we are missing out on something. It is difficult to feel completely content with our lives, no matter how much we accomplish, and no matter how much we try to let go and just BE.
Quilting helps us with this conundrum. When a sister has breast cancer and we feel helpless, we make her a beautiful healing quilt. When friends suffer a terrible loss, we make comfort quilts to remind them of our love and support. When a community suffers a trauma such as Hurricane Sandy, the larger community comes together to send quilt relief… the equivalent of a group hug.
Life is messy, and much of it is out of our control, but when you make a quilt you have time to sort it all out in your head, and by the time your healing quilt is finished, you’ve received a healing in the process of making the quilt. As women’s confidence and freedom has progressed, we have given ourselves permission to use quilting and sewing as Art Therapy. Instead of feeling guilty about making art, we embrace the process as a journey of self discovery.
Many years ago I heard a statistic about how many corporate women were turning to crafts for stress relief. Quilting, sewing, painting, knitting, crocheting and other arts and crafts have been embraced by a new generation of working women, as they discover what so many mature quilters knew already.
When you make something for someone who is hurting, it heals your own heart.
When you make something beautiful, it reveals the beauty of your own soul.