the eternal debate: quilting vs. garment-sewing

i’ve been thinking that this year i want to learn some quilting.  and i have mixed feelings about it, which some of you probably understand – i mean, is it TOO crafty?  a waste of fabric?  a waste of time?  is it awesome?  soothing?  satisfying?  another channel for creativity?

is it somewhere in between all of these things?


my first patchworked chevron. pattern for “arts & crafts triptych” from “Modern Mix: 16 Sewing Projects That Combine Designer Prints & Solid Fabrics.”

i don’t know.  but for almost a year i’ve been wondering if a great addition to the decorating scheme in my house was some fun, funky, “modern” quilting, and there is no time like the present to start.

so a few weeks ago i trekked down to purl soho to talk quilting and examine their liberty wall.  (ok, yes, i went absurdly high-end straightaway.  i cannot lie.  but i only needed less than half a yard of each piece!)  i spent half an hour pulling bolts down from the shelves, trying to understand the way i wanted the colors to flow.  this was sort of cool only because i don’t usually specifically think in terms of a color wheel when creating garments, and i loved the chance to really think about color, but in the end i appealed to the two associates hovering around me for color and design advice.


the colors in this rug were the inspiration for the palette.

we actually determined rather quickly that i have better taste than i give myself credit for, because after only a few reshuffles we came up with a great order for the prints and were finalizing the charcoal, yellow, blue and touch of orange that would be the solid color palette.  i went pretty out of my wheelhouse on the prints, going for things i might usually consider too crafty or too matronly or just too-too, because i wanted the pops of color and they all had variations on a flowery or garden motif that i want to channel for my bedroom.


“the secret garden” art print and chagall poster were in the inspiration for the prints.

i finished the first three panels this weekend and all i can say is:  yikes.  piecing is HARD, YO.  while i was cutting, pinning and piecing these chevrons i felt like i was working on a couture garment – the time differential between the bits of painstaking and specific work of these chevrons vs working on a nice long garment seam just shocked me.  and, woe is me, the MEASURING.

i have an entirely new respect for quilters now.

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14 Responses to the eternal debate: quilting vs. garment-sewing

  1. black label says:

    i have been debating the quilting thing too lately….just to try..but i think i might stick to perfecting my knitting before i take on yet another project. good luck!

  2. Jove says:

    Heheh, yes, quilting can be quite challenging. If you are off even the smallest amount, the entire quilt is off.

    I’ve done some very simple quilting and it was fun. The best part is the fabric. There are so many different fabrics and color combinations you can use. And of course, being able to cuddle up under a quilt that you made on a cold day is wonderful. I found it to be a nice change when I was tired of garment sewing and the process kept the little gray cells sharp.

    I admire quilts and have been to a few quilt shows and let me tell you, the artistry of some of these quilts are truly amazing! Personally, I prefer modern quilts to traditional quilts. The traditional quilts are nice but to my eye, too matronly. The modern quilts are colorful and in some cases, edgy and interesting.

    Good luck with your quilting experience!

    • puu says:

      the modern quilts definitely appeal to me more. something about the additional negative space and the wider range of assumptions about how to tackle a given pattern seems to me to collect all that is wonderful about quilting into a really inspiring mix.

  3. Hoosiermama says:

    There’s craftsy quilting and then there’s quilting as an art form. The extreme popularity quilting has experienced in recent years may have given it a bad name, with a disproportionate number of duffers making it look bad. As with any form of creativity, elevating it to an art form depends on the eye of the artist wielding the brush (or in this case, the palette of cotton prints). And as you discovered, just the mechanics of doing it well require skill.

    • puu says:

      i’ve definitely been checking out some art quilts and have truly been stunned by the creativity and effort behind them. it absolutely has expanded my horizons – and, i hope, my skills!

  4. Clio says:

    Gorgeous! When I hear “quilting” my knee jerk reaction is “not for me”. But then I see some of the stunning modern quilts that other people make and I never fail to be amazed/impressed/in awe of them. At this point, I think the process is “not for me” for all the reasons you say – piecing, measuring… That said, maybe when I’m decorating a new home my thoughts will change.

    • puu says:

      i absolutely feel similarly! for a long time my reaction was, “what a waste of fabric!” but for this space i really see it as an opportunity. we’ll see how far i can take it!

  5. Rosie says:

    Kitty wants to know where his leather jacket is and, if your going to make a quilt – keep in mind that it is his quilt.

    • puu says:

      kitty already has a fur coat, rosie 🙂 and kitty already has control of every piece of fabric in the house. he has personally tested each length for comfort and napping!!

  6. Kat H says:

    I was wondering the same thing for a while, but this year I’ve decided to give quilting a go as well. Mainly because I make quite a few garments with quilting cotton, so my scraps pile of quilting cotton is quite large – making a quilt seemed like a logical way to use up the scraps. 😉 And yeah, piecing is HARD!!! I also have a huge amount of respect for quilters now. Yikes!! I’m a bit nervous about how my finished quilt will look…. Gah. I suspect quilting will result in my being better at garment sewing though, which is an unexpected outcome….!

  7. This is so funny. I am a modern quilter and am just getting into garment sewing (finished my first Minoru jacket this weekend) and I had the same reaction: I missed a nice long, fast seam when I was inching along with my top-stitching. Don’t worry, you will get faster and there are nice long fast seams in your future!

    • puu says:

      it really does tickle me to see the opposite sides of the same story on this one! 🙂 but what really matters is how many different ways there are to get enjoyment out of it.

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