Guest Designer: Kitty Wilkin
A powerful thing happens when you begin to intentionally tie life together with quilt-making.
I’ve been exploring the path of quilting life for almost 8 years, and have documented many of life’s milestones and adventures in quilts. Creating quilts to document life also helped me make time to sew and do more of this creative practice that I love, EVEN as a full time mom of three young kids when mom guilt reigned supreme whenever I snuck away to my sewing room.
There's something about reflecting on your own priorities, choosing a habit, activity, or goal that is important to you and fills your tank, and committing to make a quilt documenting it all. You create a positive feedback loop in life, where you do this thing you love (maybe hiking, reading, running, or taking bubble baths!), then you earn or make quilt blocks to document it. That leads to more of the positive activity since we all want to earn more fabric, then more quilting, etc. The positive feedback loop is set, happiness grows, and the world is a better place one positive ripple at a time. In this post, I’ll tell you how to get started quilting your life, and will share some of my projects and lessons I learned along the way.
I've found that while adventures and positive habits multiply, a lot of learning and acceptance happens throughout the journey. When I made a milestone quilt documenting the monthly growth milestones of my third child, I learned a lot of lessons about setting myself up for success and being gentle with myself when things didn't go as planned. When does anything really go to plan when you have three kids under the age of 5!?
In making my Summer Adventure quilt, I learned that hikes and beach days happen far more frequently when a weekly plan is made, multiple hands are available to help, and the kids have friends to adventure with. This quilt also taught me the power of friendship and how important those rare adult connections are for full time parents.
Since these first two quilts documenting family life, I've moved to a more self-improvement focused path, tracking running miles in 2020, climbing 40 mountain peaks for my 40th birthday in 2021, tracking daily physical therapy exercises to avoid injury, and most recently prioritizing joy and delight doing more of what I love in the summertime.
The ability to recognize that even as a full time mom of three, I'm still a whole and important person with needs that deserve to be met is a fairly new one to me. It has resulted from this adventure of self acceptance where I prioritize the things that make me a more fulfilled person, which then in turn makes me a better mom, partner, friend, etc. A quilt isn't the only thing that grows during this process!
So how can you get started quilting life? Great question!
STEP 1: Choose an event, milestone, or aspect of life to document or track. This could be a baby's growth, a year in your life, your mood, the daily temperature, family adventures, a healthy habit, your time spent sewing, or ANYTHING.
STEP 2: Decide on the frequency and duration of the project, aka how many blocks will you make, how often, and for how long? Examples are 1 block per month for 1 year, 1 block per day for a year, 1 block per adventure, etc.
STEP 3: Create a schedule to set yourself up for success! You know your life better than anyone else. If you are striving to create time to sew among an already busy life, a plan that includes either one block per month, or very simple additions each day or week will be more enjoyable and attainable than a complex plan that will be a struggle to complete.
STEP 4: Decide on the details of your documentation. This is the fun part! I’ve created printable pdf Quilt Your Life planning documents that are designed to help you think through the different variables included in a quilt like this, and visualize how the colors may play together. Plan your color story, create a key of what each color or block component means, and decide whether you are going to add photography, journaling, or simply record the data in fabric form on your quilt.
STEP 5: Begin recording your data and creating your blocks, living life to its fullest as your quilting and living mesh in a beautiful way. Here’s where you can play with your favorite OLFA tools, too!
- OLFA 18mm RTY-4 Quick-Change Rotary Cutter
- OLFA CMP-3 Rotary Circle Cutter
- OLFA 45mm RTY-2/C Quick-Change Rotary Cutter, Aqua
It’s as easy as that, and I think that once you take the first step down this path, you will discover that when you take quilting and add life, you get ample adventures!
If you’re looking for a community of support and technique resource library designed specifically for quilting life, join my monthly membership group the Quilt Your Life Crew. We are an encouraging and affirming group of makers sharing our journeys and creative paths as we do more of what we love and create gorgeous quilts in the process.
I’m a big fan of taking quilt blocks with me on the adventures that earn them and capturing photographic memories along the way, so join me next month when I share tips for photographing your blocks in the wild!