Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cold Winter Nights

While DC was spared the blizzard that swept up the East Coast (I think the Beltway magically surrounded the region and protected us), it has still been quite cold and windy here. And when it is cold and windy, there is nothing better to do than curl up under a nice warm quilt with a cup of cocoa to watch a fire or movie. I don't have a fire place, so I settle for candles and a movie.

When curling up under that quilt, are you thinking about the design? At some point last year, my roommate discovered the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, which might sound incredibly boring, but is actually quite cool. They have a beautiful website with lots of resources and information about quilts. I think quilts tell the story of a family or culture's material culture more than other things. Using materials that had a previous life, you can create an amazing pictorial functional object that tells a story. You can learn about the Center's courses, collections, and exhibitions on their website, but the best part is their Quilt Explorer. Here, you can look at their quilts or make your own.

Geared toward teachers and those interested in learning about quiltmaking, the "make your own" teaches you about the patterns, stitches, and techniques for making a quilt. You start by choosing your quilt pattern. Then you select fabrics--and not just any fabrics, they provide you with patterns from different eras from the 1840s to today. Next, you have the most artistic part, where you choose where your fabric pieces will go in the pattern. It's much harder than you think, but you get to see how the one square you design transforms into a beautiful quilt on the whole rectangle. Then you select your border, because a quilt needs a visual resting place and a nice binding for all those small pieces. Finally, you choose your quilting stitch to finish your quilt! (Not sure what a quilting stitch is? The site will explain it to you.)

It's so much fun to digitally put the parts together, and while at the end you don't have a quilt you can curl up under, you can admire your own handiwork and post it for others to see online. You can see my quilt (above) in more detail here.

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