We quilt to make something beautiful that connects generations and helps form and reinforce community. We quilt to sustain life, whether by providing physical warmth or to generate the funds that support us and those we love. We quilt to validate and give expression to our wonder at the world. We have quilted, in one form or another, since before there were knights who wore quilts under their armor to soften the blows of weapon on metal. We will quilt into the future because we are creatures who were made to create and celebrate life as we grow and change the way we understand the world. As we grow, we change how we see color, how we define a quilt and quilting. Is modern quilting really modern or a reintroduction of methods used centuries ago that were never documented? The facts of history don’t change, but how we perceive those facts does. So does the definition of a quilt change as we embrace the entrance and merging of other art forms such as fabric painting. The quilting community has learned to embrace all of this as change pushes us to redefine ourselves and our art. It has made us stronger and ensured the continuance of the community.

Why we should quilt: We should quilt because quilting is the process of creation and renewal. Each quilt starts out as an idea that moves into color and light and shadow, becomes a pattern that is woven together, meets challenges, has successes and failures, takes turns expected and unexpected and ends up more than the sum of its parts. Any person who has spent substantial time at a sewing machine understands that the act of piecing can be meditative. Meditation lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. Meditation lowers breathing rate, and also increases oxygen flow. Therefore, quilting is anti-anxiety and while not necessarily less expensive than drugs, is much more fun.

Quilting can be physical and occupational therapy. Try binding a quilt by hand after breaking a wrist if you think it isn’t.  Sewing or quilting can be used to re-pattern the brain after brain injury. There is overwhelming evidence that learning a new skill drastically reduces the risk of development of Alzheimer’s disease[1]. Quilters are often lifelong learners. Studies also show, and the commercials will tell you, that Alzheimer’s medications do not change outcome, they only slow the progression of the disease. So the next time your partner objects to your stash or pattern purchase please remind him or her that you are preventing disease.

Why I teach: Somewhere in our history society split art and science. We forgot the connection between them as society became more technologically advanced. The brain does assign logical processes preferentially to one hemisphere and color and art to the other, but there are myriad connections between the two that enhance both. We forgot how to heal ourselves; how to live our best lives. We all have hidden abilities and talents that we seldom recognize until we are seriously challenged. I teach to help students discover and rejoice in those unrecognized talents.

[1] Harvard Health Publication posted April 27, 2016