The Creativity and Utility of Quilting

In a world that appears short on time for the number of activities to which it is committed, creativity is often overlooked. The opportunity to create slows one’s pace, allowing the creator to think outside the box, explore new ideas and solve problems in fresh ways. Canvass, sculpture, dance, music and cloth all provide open-ended opportunities for expression of self, a wider connection with the world and freedom from expectations. One long practiced mode of creation is quilting. As times have changed, so have the methods and purposes of the practice, but the results continue to satisfy both creator and consumer.


The use of the three-layered cloth structure known as a quilt began hundreds of years ago. Quilts were used on beds, to cover doors and windows and as doors on cabinets or wardrobes. Early quilts were more utility focused than creativity focused. The useful, common person’s quilt was generally patched together with scraps of material the creator had available. The more elegant and artistic applique quilt, which used an entire piece of one fancy cloth, was relegated to more well off consumers. Quilting is currently a relaxing hobby, and there are many ways to create quilts uniquely.


Not only are there a plethora of quilting patterns available for use today, but there are a number of patterned ways of attaching the three layers of cloth used for quilting into a finished piece. The stitching used to form the three quilt layers into a completed quilt can follow the lines of the pattern of the quilt, or it can be a pattern of its own with no regard for the design of the patterned cloth. These contrasting patterns of continuous lines are known as pantographs. They are typically drawn out on paper, most often for long arm quilting machines, although domestic quilters can use them, as well. A laser light from below the quilt follows the line pattern on the paper, guiding the quilting machine to follow the chosen pattern.

Even though the art of quilting began more from necessity than artistry, the practice is now a beautiful act of stress-relieving creativity. Not only do quilters get to create the patterned top of the quilt, but they can add an extra layer of expression through the use of contrasting line patterns to craft a finished quilt. These rich works have utility and a place in the heart and are expressions of creativity.


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