Thursday, June 9, 2016

Emergence: A Finished Quilt

This quilt has a story, as they all do. Sometimes the story is very clear, and sometimes it isn't until the very end. This one was a little bit of both.


They say that your 20s are a time to "find yourself." Up until this year, I didn't believe that one bit. Just four short years ago, I graduated college and began a vigorous search for a teaching job, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I was 100% sure that teaching kids was undeniably my path.


Ever since, I have been working in public schools in various positions, including a couple of great teaching gigs. For many, many reasons (that largely have to do with the current climate in American public education), I'm ready to be honest with myself: I don't think I want to follow that career path. I still love what I do and will continue to do it for now. I love working with kids and helping them discover their abilities. Teaching has been most of my training, and it comes naturally to me (and I'm proud of the progress I've made in the last four years).



What I have ALSO found is that I LOVE to teach and lecture about quilting. Helping quilters discover their creativity, enjoy the process rather than stress, understand the nuances of modern quilting, and learn to "roll with the punches" have been the most enjoyable parts of the last couple years. I'm blessed and fortunate to have these opportunities scheduled through June of next year so far.


 As you all might know, I also LOVE to make quilts. I know in my heart that if I had scored a full-time teaching position right out of college, I would not be as risk-taking, open, flexible, and well, creative as I am today. That's right - I'm grateful that I did not find a full-time position. I've found that creativity is natural but it takes time to bring out and nurture.


This past year has certainly been transformative personally (I haven't discussed it publicly, but I have been working on a blog post - I don't know if or when it will get posted). Out of pain comes light, one way or another.


 For all of these reasons, I decided to create this quilt and name it Emergence, to celebrate my real self coming forth. Like the butterflies lovingly fussy cut into this quilt. I'm not there yet (do we ever get there?) but I feel more defined than ever before. And I love how it feels.


Last week, I wrote a post entitled, "The Great Stitch Length Debate," in which I discussed the reasons for free motion quilting with a constant stitch length. I could have quilted Emergence with a waking foot to achieve perfectly straight, perfectly same-length stitches, but I didn't. I am not a straight-line gal, as I've learned. I have flaws and have dealt with a lot of curve balls; imperfection is perfect to me.

So, this quilt is covered in organic lines that are not quite straight - that bear unequal stitches from small to large (much like my Pebble Cascade quilt). And I'm thrilled with the texture it produced. I also let different colors lead into other colors (both with the pieced arcs and threads), which is yet another unusual/imperfect element. For example, there's dark blue thread visible below.


This quilt will serve as a visual reminder to keep cherishing what I love. Those things are my husband, family, friends, quilting, creativity, teaching, and writing. And they will help me through as I find the way.

And please, please, please share your quilts' stories. Because if we don't, who will? 


Quilt Stats:
  • Emergence, an original design
  • Pieced and quilted by me on my domestic machine, Elsa, a Janome MC 6300
  • Intermediate-advanced improvisation and bias piecing workshop ("Waterfall Quilt") coming next week - for quilt guilds
  • Featuring Lizzy House butterflies from Natural History by Andover Fabrics
  • Featuring Aurifil threads 2021 (eggshell), 2805 (light blue), 2277 (red), 2605 (dark gray), 1135 (yellow), 2735 (dark blue), 2240 (dark orange), 1133 (light orange)
 P.S. Here's my post about the backing - it's one of my favorite parts of the whole quilt.

  Outtake: Because I just couldn't leave this candid shot out (thanks to Mike) -  it was windy and ve-e-e-ery difficult to take pictures that day. Maybe you'll end this post with a laugh. :D



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32 comments:

  1. Beautiful quilt and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing them.

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  2. LOVE the quilt, and the story behind it. Keep on rocking.

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  3. Beautiful quilt!! I am, now at 29, undoubtedly a completely different person than I was at 22. I've had 5 completely different jobs and have ended up in a career I both love and am well suited for. Lucky me. :D I don't think of the 20's as a time to find yourself though - your self is not lost, just buried behind what others think you should be. It take years to develop the courage and confidence to reveal your self, especially to everyone. And it's not just limited to your 20's, it keeps on going your whole life. :) I hope there's more light than pain going forward, and keep quilting! :D

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  4. My favorite of all your beautiful quilts. Thanks for being open and authentic.

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  5. When one door closes another opens. I am sure you will find a way.

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  6. Stunning quilt. The story is even better. Just because you start down one path, doesn't mean that is the destination. Diverge off and gain experiences you may otherwise have missed. Maybe in the future you return to teaching, maybe you don't. I appreciate that you are teaching quilters to roll with the punches. There is no right or wrong when creating art, just your way. The picture did make me laugh.

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  7. Beautiful story and quilt. Oh how close to my own story this is. I actually did everything I could to NOT be a teacher (many in my family), but after no great jobs after college in my degree field, I decided to be a kindergarten aide until I found something. That something turned out to be a love of teaching. So a msters degree later, I taught public middle school. Then a cross country move and having my first kid made me realize I love teaching - but not in public school. We're now homeschooling and I've started writing quilt patterns as a way to reach quilting. I'd love to be able to teach real quilting classes. Not sure how to break into that, but maybe doors will open. I just entered my 30s and finally feel like I know what I want to be when I grow up! (Sorry for the long post!)

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  8. I think that the quilt is amazing, and thank you so much for sharing the story behind its creating and meaning to you. I find that the longer I walk this journey, the more I appreciate good, open honesty and find courage to face large hurdles with the strength of friends (near and far). I am so excited to hear you have teaching scheduled through June of next year (whoop!!!) and look forward to watching you continue to grow, evolve, and emerge. <3

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  9. Teachers are my favorite people. You are lucky that your passion for teaching and for creating emerged from the pain of plans not working out. This quilt is beautiful. It is made more beautiful by the story of its creation.

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  10. Great design. Life is full of curves. I am glad we can't see around the corners into the future. Just let it unfurl and enjoy the ride as best you can. It sounds like you have a great attitude. I love being inspired by you young people.

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  11. Thanks for sharing your joy and the story behind your quilts. Everything from the colors, to the wonky-ness that makes this Accountant think "omg those aren't straight lines!!", to YOUR way of quilting all makes these such a reflection of you!! And thats what makes them most beautiful! For someone who feels like the rule is that everything needs to be squared away, it also shows us that beauty can be anything! It can be points that match up with laser precision or it can be blue quilting next to orange next to white. Very inspiring Jess!

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  12. Love your quilt and reading the story behind it.

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  13. Oh Jess what a beautiful quilt and you chose a perfect name. I loved reading the story and your thought processes. It's exactly why I love blogging and blog reading :)

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  14. There are many ways to teach vs. just in a school classroom. A young friend of mine teaches at hospitals. Another older friend of mine teaches through Aramark (a food service vendor) at cafeterias (medical facility personnel), etc. If you have the gift of teaching (and it's truly a gift), there are lots of ways to teach (quilting is awesome!) if you think outside the box. A former professor told me last night she liked the teaching, just not the prep work! Good luck!

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  15. That is a beautiful quilt and story to go with it.

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  16. As a teacher (27 years), I can say that teaching is absolutely rewarding but you have to be willing to relinquish many things and ideals. I try to encourage young people to seriously consider it. Unfortunately fewer people are able to stay in this profession and make a full career. I hope you find your way. That beautiful quilt surely must be great inspiration.

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  17. Outstanding quilt! It makes me want to take a deep breath and just soar away! I love the quilting you did as it adds a depth of texture with so much freedom expressed. I appreciate you sharing your creative journey with us. You always inspire me to take more risks and move ahead in my own quilting journey and for that I am truly grateful.

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  18. Fantastic Quilt! I love the color blocking.

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  19. amazing finish...loving all the little butterflies not to mention the gorgeous color blocking.

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  20. I love this quilt! Love the butterflies, the swishes through the blocks and especially the quilting. Continue to tell your story (whether you publish it here or not) as each chapter will unfold new characters, new challenges and new victories. Life is rich with stories.

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  21. Love your quilt. I made my first needle turned applique quilt earlier this year and it was my first free motion quilting attempt. The stitches are not even, some whiskering on the back but I love it so much. I quilted a different pattern around the applique in each block ;some I just made up as I went. It hangs proudly on my studio wall. That quilt gave me the confidence to try FMQ and applique again. So if you haven't tried FMQ just go for it, have fun and you never know what to expect until you try.

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  22. Jess, as you know I took that very same path just recently. For 15 years loved education, earned a Masters degree, was a state certified Reading Specialist and Gifted Education Specialist, and honestly thought I would/could do that until retirement. The climate of American education, within the last few years especially, forced me to reckon with the fact that the career I began and loved way back in August of 2001 no longer exists, and that I could no longer be a party to the testing culture as it exists today. It is so hard to step off of a path that you have traveled for awhile and spent time and energy cultivating, but the results can be so rewarding. I am finding that to be true, and I hope you continue to as well. Emergence really is a beautiful quilt, and a very fitting name.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

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  23. I loved reading this quilt's story. I agree I think all quilts have a story and I love to know them! The quilt is wonderful - I love how Emergence has finished. Good luck with wherever your journey may take you!

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  24. Beautiful quilt, I love how you incorporated the butterflies into the improve piecing.

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  25. Thank you Jessica, I really can relate to your story. The quilt is just gorgeous!

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  26. It's a beautiful quilt, full of perfectly imperfect quilting :-)

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  27. I love the story behind this quilt. The quilt is perfectly imperfect and I love that. I smiled at, "your 20s is a time to find yourself." The only thing you find in your 20s, is what works in your 20s, because all of the sudden things change. The you that you found in your 20s, might not work at all when you're 30 or 40. The only thing that really stays the same is passion. You have found your passion early in life, family and creativity. You are blessed, other don't find those passions until they're retired.

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  28. I love reading your story of this quilt. I'm so happy that quilt teaching is keeping you busy. I sure hope that you'll be teaching near me someday! Thank you for linking up with me for TGIFF!

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  29. Thank you for being open and honest in your quilt story. Finding your true self is a life-long process, I find as I turn 78 shortly. Enjoy the journey.

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  30. Thank you for being open and honest in your quilt story. Finding your true self is a life-long process, I find as I turn 78 shortly. Enjoy the journey.

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  31. This post just made me want to reach through the computer and give you a hug. I'm so glad to hear that you have some good teaching gigs lined up for the next year! I hope the next year is full of wonderful things for you guys! I think my favorite things about this quilt are the butterflies, the various thread colors throughout and the quilting motifs!

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