Warning: I'm dissing some fellow bloggers quite hard here. I know we're supposed to be respectful and nice, and coexist Kumbaya style, but you've caught me at a bad time of the month. Nonetheless, you have been warned.
I know this is quite a late entrance to the debate. I know the discussion has been going on for almost a month now, but what the hey. I only read about it today, and I suspect I got more offended than a lot of people. I'm gunna target most of what she said, and be obnoxious and offensive along the way, and I'm doing it for one simple reason. According to this post, I will never be anything more than a beginner because I cant sew a consistent quarter inch seam. Of course I bloody can't - I quilt in metric. In some parts of the world, measurements have moved on. Your way is not the only way. My way is the future*.
I'm talking about the (so called) Dumbing Down of Quilting. Google it. Have a read. There's lots of comments by now, so skim through them too.
Now that you've done that, I'm gunna get mean.
According to some bloggers (one in particular), the existence of modern quilts is creating a generation of quilters with their heads in the sand regarding traditional techniques, leaving them to live a miserable existence bereft of half square triangles, which, because they spend too much time on blogs which are all style and no substance, they think are far too complicated for anyone who can't do anything better than a wonky square in a square (or something like that). Simple modern quilts are the death of skilled craftsmanship, yada yada, we and our precise points and old fashioned quarter inch* seams are up here on our moral high ground while the proletariat are chilling down the hill with their slavish addiction to designer fabrics.
Okay, so maybe that's a bit meaner than I originally planned. I get that that's not what the lady meant, but it's very very easy to hear it that way. And while my love of the centimetre* may cement my place as an eternal beginner, I consider myself to be an expert at unnecessarily rude rebuttals.
The first part of rebutting is to concede a small point, and I'm going to say that I do feel that the obsessions with a particular fabric or designer (Denise Schmidt, Kaffe Fassett, cough cough) that sweep through the modern-quilting blogosphere from time to time can do a lot to curtail originality. That making a quilt using only the fabrics from one range is an easy alternative to having to pick and choose a selection from all the fabrics in all the world. But the thing about a fabric range is, it does go together. It's meant to - all those fabrics compliment one another nicely because they were designed and printed for that very purpose.
But to take it to the extent that she has, decrying modern quilting as a lesser alternative to the traditional variety, and saying that modern quilters are somehow inferior artists because of these foibles, is ridiculous. It's like a meat eater decrying a vegetarian's inability to cook a sausage, like a footballer saying that netball is an inferior game because it's players can't kick the ball... Actually no, what it is, is a soccer player decrying Aussie Rules as easy because the players can use their hands. Because the thing is, it doesn't matter. You are almost comparing oranges and apples. Despite the fact that they are both called football, it's a completely different thing.
Perhaps that's what it is. It's traditional quilters worried that, god forbid, after all that time spent learning how to make two bits of fabric join together in some special way, they're being lumped in with the modern "easy" stuff because the two different styles share a name. Well I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous too, since quilting is actually the process of layering fabric, batting and fabric, and then sewing through all three. Quilting has nothing to do with half square triangles, or blocks, wonky or straight. And it may just be that I'm going to the wrong kinds of blogs (you know, the ones with the pretty photos) but most of the modern quilts I've seen have been quilted by the piecer, while the more traditional quilts seem much more likely to get the professional treatment.
But the thing that made me laugh the most was the suggestion that modern quilting is about making "the same 7 quilts over and over" Well, yes, I've made quite a few of my quilts a second or third time, mainly so I could play with new colours or fabrics, but y'know, I've not yet copied a quilt off of any other blog, or book, or from history. I've never used a pattern I didn't do the maths* for myself. And if anything, aren't traditional quilts just copies of quilts from the last 200 years, made over and over again?
Here's another thing - simplicity is not the same as stupidity. For me, the best part of quilting is finding the most efficient way to get all my pieces from the fabric available. Yes, I posted a pattern for a square in a square quilt. Yes, there's already hundreds of them out there. But the goal of mine when I was coming up with it was to work out the simplest way to fit all the bits I needed into the uncut fabric. A way that uses just 2 yards of fabric to make the top, that can use directional fabrics without issue and has pretty much no waste whatsoever. By considering quilting to be purely a technical exercise, a "how accurate can I get this point" competition, you are missing out on half the fun - the fun of coming up with new and innovative ways to use fabrics that have been bought by thousands of other quilters in a way this is unique to you, the fun of turning a simple design into something that is aesthetically both pleasing and striking.
Modern quilting is more about design than technique, and while more advanced techniques can lead to more complex and potentially interesting designs, complexity does not impart superiority. Nor does simplicity though, it is context which imparts superiority. In the context of your point of view, modern, simpler quilts are getting an undeserved share of adulation. In the context of my point of view, you're acting like a jealous poo head, because the masses have spoken, with their fondness for pretty colours and more efficient methods. Yay for context!
Okay, so calling the opposition a poo head is generally regarded as the end to civilised argument. I think for a minute there I thought I was in a GNW Great Debate - Paul McDermott will probably pop out at any moment and sing a song, and there will be a confetti explosion. Nonetheless, I get that I've taken a post that wasn't meant to cause offence and got really really offended by it.
But when you knock my love of the centimetre, I take it personally.
*The USA is the only major country still using imperial measurements. And while I agree that it can make the math easier, this is only because a .5cm seam (as opposed to the .64cm that is easily stated in imperial as a quarter inch) is cutting it a little too fine to guarantee a secure seam, a problem that could be fixed with better quality fabrics which fray less. As it is, I can calculate fine by adding .75cm to my straight seams and 1cm to anything at a 45° angle, and my points are consistently correct to under 2mm, despite the fact that I press all my seams open. Pretty clever for a dumbed down beginner, no?