Happily Engaged in the Creative Process of Quilting

When I decided to retire from teaching I was asked, “What will you do?” People wanted to know how I would fill my time when I opted out of teaching. I realized they also wanted to know how they would spend their time. After all teachers have a hurried, jam-packed schedule filled with children, bells, and the latest teaching trend. They think of themselves as teachers.

Besides teaching I was a writer. Mostly I wrote teaching and parenting articles. However, I had an idea for a book that had nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with quilting. I went to a teaching friend I knew quilted, and asked if she would help me to learn enough to put it in my book. She took me by the arm, literally as well as figuratively, into my first quilting class. I did finish writing the book, Our Family Quilt, and I discovered quilting.

Person outside on a trail
Rhonda Cratty is a quilter and author of the book, Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life.

I discovered that the art of quilting and writing work hand in hand to engage me thoughtfully in my work and made me healthier and happier every day. Although quilt making in the past was purely for practical reasons – warmth and economic motivations – now, quilt making is a creative artistry that blends with today’s life styles.

Contemporary quilt makers fall into two groups. The first group loves every step of the process: designing or choosing a pattern, picking and buying the fabric, sewing the blocks, performing the quilting, and finishing the piece. The second group loves the creative process of designing, picking fabric, and creating a one of a kind top. These artists often have stacks of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) because they are always ready to create a new design. For some of us the final step in the process is sharing our creative work. I love to give them as gifts, while many quilters share at quilt guild meetings, shows, online blogs, and magazines.

Blue and red quilt
Fun fact: The cover of Our Family Quilt was the first quilt Rhonda ever made –a log cabin design. She just finished the quilt for her second book’s cover – it’s a disappearing nine patch.

I have met many quilting artists in guilds, bees, traveling, online, and through my book. They are happily engaged in their creative process – problem solvers who express themselves not only quilting but through a variety of media and activities as part of their everyday creativity. Quilters’ desire for everyday creativity is a compulsion they maintain whether it’s through inspiration in the garden, with woodworking, writing, painting, or traveling. Quilting feeds creativity for life, and quilters find life feeds their creativity for quilting.

I no longer think of myself as a teacher who writes. I think of myself as a quilter who writes. Everyday quilting describes my life. Whether planning, writing, blogging, cooking, or actually sitting down at my machine, in my mind I am quilter.

As I wrote about Grace and Audrey, it inspired me to quilt. As I worked on my quilting craft it inspired chapters in Our Family Quilt. I am now writing the second book in the series. I find myself writing and thinking about quilting, then in reverse, when I am quilting – I am thinking about my writing.

Today, may your quilting be your own springboard for a creative day.

– Rhonda Cratty

Our family quilt book

If you would like to read Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life , you can pick up your own copy on Amazon.

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2 Responses to “Happily Engaged in the Creative Process of Quilting”

  1. SALLY

    Well done on your books. I too am a retired teacher and current quilter. What did I do to fill my time? I teach quilting to others! It combines my great loves and I,m deeply fulfilled.

  2. Servanne

    I too was a teacher for a short time and then switched to becoming a bilingual assistant, which though this job is not paid as it should and does not get the recognition it should, is more flexible than teaching in temrs of mobility, the kind of business you can work for. I am now close to retirement and was looking for something to do when i rediscovered quilts and decided to give it a go. I am still learning but i have managed to finalise a couple of projects (which though far from perfect are kind of nied (at least in my view) and i have enjoye watching videos on line among which all the tutos proposed by National Circle Quilters. I work on my own but being able to watch these videos make me feel i am part of a community. I think it would be nice to have quilting individuals gathering once or twice in a week in the country where i live as a way to get people together doing something they love, learning from others and maybe building new relationships. After all, quilting is a healthy and creative activity that, i am sure and hope, attract nice people. Anyway, I love the shows and especailly the work of Mrs. Thomas which i have watched a lot. I find her tips very useful and i love her work and the way she combines techniques and ideas to make wonderful art pieces of all kinds, sizes and shapes. I am glad i subscribe to the channel.