I’ve now been to both Quilt Market and QuiltCon, two conventions on either side of the industry. If Market is more about doing business and making sales, QuiltCon is about building relationships: meeting virtual friends and Instagram followers in real life, sitting down with industry reps to chat and problem-solve, strengthening ties between guild members. Old friends take silly pictures like no time has passed. Two local guild officers walk into last Thursday’s Moda Party; they end up several hours later in a gift shop on Sixth Street in a cowboy hat and a Davy Crockett coonskin cap, thereby cementing a moment neither of them will be able to live down. (Not that I would know.)
When I went on the hunt for a quilt to feature for the RST Quilt-along, I had a pretty clear vision. It had to have a modern aesthetic. It had to be from an independent, rising designer. It had to be new enough that there weren’t 40 other QALs to compete with. Rachel van Tilborg’s Friendship Bracelet quilt was all those things, but it was perfect for another reason: its theme expressed my goal for this website so perfectly.
For so many of us, sewing has become much more than stitching together fabric — it’s about stitching together lifelong friendships. We should be approaching sewing, in my mind, as opportunity for social engagement and social support, not as a space for hero-worship, hierarchy, or competition. There’s enough of the bad stuff all around already. That’s what I try to do here: provide insight into the industry and into designers’ creative processes. Support independent creators and shops. Share what I know. A rising tide raises all ships, and I trust that this website works because we are committed to supporting those around us. A friendship bracelet is the perfect representation of this commitment.
I’ve chosen Allison Glass’s “Handcrafted” line as my fabric for this quilt-along. I love the hand-painted look of these modern batiks; they remind me of the potato-and-paint stamps my sister and I would do during the summers when we were kids and I had friendship bracelets tied around my wrists. Rachel’s pattern has so far been really great and easy to follow. If you’re seeing the jagged edges of the bracelets and FREAKING OUT about Y-seams, don’t! There aren’t any! Each bracelet gets trimmed before it’s pieced to the background. If you’re hesitant to jump in because we’ve already started, no worries. Each bracelet has taken me about two hours to complete, including cutting time. They’re really easy to pull off — just the right amount of time to commit to a quilt-along when we each have thousands of other projects in the queue. It won’t take you more than a weekend to catch up, and I’m not going to be a stickler about having everything done until the final deadline in August.
I got to meet several RST readers in Austin, and it was so wonderful to meet the people behind the screen names. I want to meet more. Overall, my goal for this quilt-along is simple: to get us stitching together and thinking about the people in our lives who have helped to make our sewing journeys important. We in the quilting and sewing world are a community, and I’ve found that we are always better (though sometimes sillier) when we put our “right sides together.”
Are you working on your bracelet quilt? How’s it going?