Monday, June 23, 2014

Can quilting and minimalism co-exist?

A few years ago, when moving house, I realised the absolute joy associated with getting rid of stuff - decluttering! It generated feelings of liberation, freedom, space, air!  Heady stuff, indeed!

Before actually moving, I did everything I could to reduce the towering pile accumulated over many years living in one house. Garage sales, eBay, charity shops, neighbours, friends - it seems everyone benefited (I hope!) from my urge to declutter. And after moving, finding there was no room for some furniture and other bits and bobs, they went, too. Almost weekly, something else seems to be given the 'flick'.

It is such a great feeling!

But - how does this state of being co-exist with being a quilter? Quilters keep stuff. Piles and piles and piles of it. Fabrics, threads, supplies, works in progress, UFO's, samples, machines…..the list goes on. And I must say, I certainly seem to have quite a mound of quilting-related items. My neighbour didn't help a few weeks ago when she gave me 3 huge bins of furnishing and upholstery fabric samples and off-cuts left over from her interior design business. But they were of such high quality and beauty that there was no way I could reject these treasured items. So I've had to find a neat way to store them.

The other day, by chance, I was browsing through an old book that had been my mother's - Practical Home Mending Made Easy (1946) - full of traditional and practical tips for all manner of sewing and repairs. Of course, much of what is in this book is still practical. It was the section on sewing machines and supplies that made me think.

I have an old electric Singer sewing machine. I haven't used it for many, many years as it's heavy and ungainly but stitches like a dream - still! It got me thinking…..while I would never want to give up my modern machines I wonder do we really need all the gadgets and stitches incorporated in high-end modern machines. I suspect most of us do not! Of course, I'm not talking about machines for specific purposes such as free-motion quilting or long-arm quilting or complex embroidery.

After all, would we really want to go back to a quilting foot like this? My old Singer has one just like it!

And as for the eye-watering range of products available to tempt us at quilting and craft shows. My goodness, you'd need a lifetime just to try them all, and a bank balance to match!

Although I'm not obsessive, in my house and surrounds I dislike clutter - I feel more relaxed in a tidy environment. Being a quilter or artist is inherently messy, so how do I 'marry' the two - quilting and moderate minimalism? I've decided it's relatively easy:
  • Keep all my quilting and sewing in a separate room or space. I don't have the luxury of a spacious studio, so works in progress do creep out to other parts of the house, but I try to put them away when I'm not working on them.
  • Keep my quilting space as tidy as I can. The philosophy of 'everything with a place and everything in it's place' is a goal I aspire to!
  • Recycle products and reduce waste where possible
  • Try to be disciplined and only purchase what I need
  • Try to be super-disciplined and only purchase new products if I know that I'm going to try them out. I must confess to not always being successful with this one, but my intentions are good!
So have I reached the point where quilting and minimalism can happily co-exist?


  1. Great post Deborah! We should all take a leaf out of your book!

  2. Absolutely right! I can sign under each word, Deborah! Isn't it amazing: we live in different parts of the world but have the same problem!
    Thank you for sharing!