The Goal of Our Craft {Thoughts on Writing and Quilting}

I’ve always admired quilts. My grandmother used to have them in her home—draped over the davenport, stacked beside the bed.

I used to study her quilts, tracing the shapes with my fingers. I marveled at the intricacies of the thread, woven through every layer while creating alternate designs.

I thought quilting was like magic.

Colors. Shapes. Patterns. Coming together to form a masterpiece.

Deep down, I wanted to learn how to make one. But I never asked. It looked too hard. Like it was something only experienced people could do. People like my grandma, in their eighties or nineties.

I felt out of my league. And never tried.

Until nine years ago.

I happened to walk past a quilt store. From the colorful display in the window, quilts of every kind invited me in. I entered the store and softly fingered the fabric, admiring the beauty of someone’s handiwork.

An older woman handed me a flier. They offered a class for beginners. So I signed up for a class and selected fabric for my “beginner quilt.”

Eventually, I joined a sewing group. We gathered each month to share our projects and encourage one another. Oftentimes, I looked at their quilts and felt silly in comparison. Some of my quilting friends are experts. Artists with cloth and color. Of course, they’ve been quilting for a long time too.

I realized that comparing my beginning quilts with their masterpieces wasn’t appropriate. Whenever I gave in to that comparison-temptation, discouragement set in.

The same is true for writing.

It’s easy to look at a book we admire and think that we could never write something so life-changing. It’s easy to compare our blog posts to the writing of a “successful” author and feel “out of our league.”

But those authors had beginnings too.

Like anything else, good writing takes time and great writing takes hard work.

Whether you’re a quilter or writer or singer or speaker, we all start somewhere.

Where we begin is not as important as where we end. And where we end is not as important as who we become along the way.

I can easily become so focused in making the “perfect quilt” as a gift for a friend that I neglect the friend! I can easily become so focused on writing a “better post” for a reader that I neglect to encourage the reader!

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
~ I Corinthians 13:2b

If I finish a beautiful quilt, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I finish a great book, but have not love, I am nothing.

I remember my grandmother’s quilts. Compared to some of my expert quilting friends, my grandmother’s quilts aren’t as beautiful. But they’re still my favorite because they were given to me in love.

And that is what I want for my craft. Not perfection. But love.

What are your goals for writing?
Do you have other crafts you enjoy pursuing?

*The quilt in these pictures is not my “beginner quilt.” At the time, I was so focused on finishing it that I neglected to record the process with pictures!

26 thoughts on “The Goal of Our Craft {Thoughts on Writing and Quilting}

  1. What an encouraging post! You are so right on. We can’t spend so much time trying to have the perfect piece of writing, etc. that we neglect the entire purpose we do what we do! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  2. Oh, this brings back so many good memories for me! My nanny was a quilter and she would gather with her friends and they would quilt together for hours. These same friends would laugh, sing, and cry together often as they endured many celebrations and losses together. My fondest memory is of playing under the massive quilting contraption that they used to hold the quilt while they were in the process of creating their masterpieces of thread and fabric. All held together with love. Thank you for the beautiful reminder. I miss my nanny and all that she embodied. However, one day we will meet again! Grace to you, friend!

    • “All held together with love.”

      Indeed. Those old-fashioned quilting circles embodied beauty and grace and the tenderest kind of love. (I miss my grandma too.) Blessing to you, my friend. 🙂

  3. I can relate to your post in several ways. Right now I am in the process of making my first quilts for our twin girls. Like you my grandma and great grandma were amazing quilters and I so admired them! This winter I finally jumped in and went for it. I am loving the process and how they are looking. Far from perfect but still loving the results. I can also compare my writings or blog to others stuff and then it just gets all messy. I like how you said “Where we begin is not as important as where we end. And where we end is not as important as who we become along the way..”
    So good. I’m excited to grow along with you!

    • I would love to see pictures of your daughters’ quilts when you’re finished! I once made identical lavender quilts for my girls. It was a simple pattern, but they’ve become the girls’ favorites. 🙂

  4. Oh, I love what you said, “Where we begin is not as important as where we end. And where we end is not as important as who we become along the way..”

    When I first started blogging, I felt like quitting because I read so many wonderful blogposts, I thought, “God, you have so many great writers. You don’t need me!”

    Somehow, I couldn’t stop. And I realize that I write for me, because I enjoy who I am becoming along the way as I write my posts.

    God bless you!

  5. Denise! What a wonderful post! 🙂 I would looove to learn to quilt one day. I have attempted a little tiny one once and have a long way to go! Maybe when these little ones are a little bigger 🙂 I found you on the She Speaks page & just wanted to stop by and say hi! I look forward to meeting you in July! ❤

  6. You are inspiring me — both in writing and finally to get working on putting together a new quilt to replace the one on our bed that’s getting worn to shreds. Great insights, and beautiful quilt. What a lovely surprise, the way the shades and hues worked out in its final pattern. Love it!

  7. Beautiful. I live in Central Oregon and we have the annual Sisters Quilt show with hundreds of beautiful quilts done by experts. It’s tradition for my mom and I to go out there and admire them all. She quilts, I don’t. And it’s true, even though there are amazing award winning quilts out there, my mom’s are my favorites because they were a labor of love. I hope my writing will be likewise.

  8. I loved this, Denise. It’s a beautiful quilt that inspired this post. In our writing we do have to start somewhere, don’t we? I find setting goals help me focus. One year my goal was to sell articles to 12 new magazines. This year I entered the genre of university educational writing. It has stretched me but that’s good.

  9. I was just sharing these same thoughts about writing with a friend over the weekend. I thought when I started to blog, it was about the writing. But what I have come to realize is that it is about the relationships more than the writing. Relationships with Him and others help us to become master craftsman of the gifts He gives. Without them, we are nothing. Your quilt is lovely btw. I have always wanted to make one with my kids old clothes when they go off to college. We’ll see if that dream comes to pass!

  10. Denise, I love this. I love quilts, too. I used to display them around my house. Then, one day I decided they needed to be lived in. So, now they cover our beds or are used for snuggling in the livingroom. I enjoy them so much more now. Are they getting warn? Yes, but they are being used as intended and I think the quilters would be pleased. I guess the divine quilter would feel the same way about our crafts. Your quilt is beautiful and, as usual, so are your words!

    Partly due to your recent posts, I have begun to tell my story. Thank you for the encouragement!

  11. Hello Denise. I love this post and how you equated your quilting to writing. Specifically about comparing your beginning efforts with those with years of experience. I also love your quilts. I am currently working on a twin size quilt. When my mother passed away she left me all her quilt tops as I was the only one interested in quilting. I’m not doing any piecing, in fact I gave away all her pieces to a charity that pieces lap quilts for children in hospitals to have and take when they are discharged. I look forward to connecting with my mother in the simple act of hand quilting her tops.

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