Last month, my Project 48 partner Linden and I were part of the symposium that was run at the Making the Australian Quilt exhibit showing at the National Gallery of Victoria. If you are in Melbourne between now and November, the exhibit is an amazing curation of quilts that were made from the 1800’s to 1950’s. I will write about the exhibit in a separate post, however, I wanted to share the presentation that we gave as part of the quilting now panel session.
Social media and the quilting community
Linden: Crystal and I met 2½ years ago via an online quilting group. We were part of a bee where each person nominates the other eleven members of the group to make a block for them and each person ends up with a twelve block quilt.
Crystal was the first cab off the rank and designed an orange peel block for us to make. I came from a traditional quilting background where precision was important (indeed the precision was one of the things I loved about quilting) and I remember emailing Crystal because my orange peels weren’t coming out at exactly 8” like the instructions said. Her response was that it didn’t really matter as long as it was close. This didn’t make sense to me!
Interestingly, we discovered that the vast majority of the online group were in fact from Canberra and lived within 20 minutes from each other.
Linden: I had been thinking further about this thing called “Modern Quilting” and late last year I contacted Crystal to find out if she would be interested in joining with me to explore how traditional and modern quilting interacted and thankfully she agreed.
We decided on the format of a year-long epic sampler, with 48 blocks. We would choose a theme for each month; I would design a traditional block, crystal a modern one and we would invite two guest bloggers to design a block each month.
As well as exploring each other’s’ practices, we wanted to build a quilting community and help others learn new skills. We now have 2,00 subscribers from the UK, Europe, America and Australia and our Facebook group comprises almost 1,000 active members.
Technology is changing the shape of quilting – now instead of sitting and stitching in each other’s homes, we are meeting people online, from around the world, and are forming friendships that way. The lines between “online friends” and “real friends” are blurring.
Social media is one of the biggest things that informs me as a maker and I wouldn’t be a quilter, in fact, I wouldn’t want to be a quilter without it. It’s an amazing connection that brings us together.
Proof of this is meeting another quilting friend Alyce (and a Project 48 designer). While she was living in Japan, we met in real life in Austin Texas, and I gave her a hug this morning [in Melbourne].
That’s the power of social media and the online quilting community.
Enter modern quilters. We are edgy. Some of us have tattoos. And we connect online through social media. We are strong, outspoken and have a deep love for quilting that links our online and real life communities.
My Modern Quilt Guild (who I found through Instagram) is so important to me and my craft. Every month we meet, share, laugh, cry, get angry about injustices, celebrate, commiserate and talk a lot about quilting.
The online quilting community has an incredible collection of strong women and men from various social, religious and ethnic backgrounds. We, all of us, juggle competing demands on our time. But we are woven together in a rich tapestry. We form a strong, supportive, nurturing and inclusive community which is generous with time and ourselves. It can bond the most diverse groups through a love of fabric and thread.
Modern quilting pays respects to traditional practices as we break all the rules and forge our own path.