We first met Laura Hartrich at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, Texas, when she recorded a Go Tell It at the Quilt Show! video with us. Her quilt “Quilt for Our Bed,” pieced by Laura and quilted by Nikki Maroon, won the People’s Choice Award at QuiltCon that year, and we were thrilled to document Laura’s quilt story, along with 39 others exhibited at the show.
In 2016, Laura founded an Instagram account, Quilt Stories, that already has over 3,000 followers. We recently asked Laura to tell us more about her inspiration and goals for the project.
Q: Laura, what motivated you to start the Quilt Stories Instagram Page?
A: To be completely honest, the motivation was a little selfish. I’m a quilter myself. On my good days, I love the community and inspiration that come along with being connected to so many quilters around the world, via social media, especially Instagram. On my not-so-good days, I struggle with comparing my work to that of others, and feeling like I’ll never measure up to the vast talent that’s out there in the quilt world. I wanted to create a project that would remind me that it’s not all about talent and design and book deals and QuiltCon acceptance letters. I thought providing a platform for people to tell their most meaningful quilt stories would give me that reminder. That’s not to say I don’t love great design and show-worthy quilts. But I wanted to showcase quilts that shine for other reasons…
Q: Your page header says: “A place to share quilts with special stories. A place to be reminded why we quilt.” Do you give any perimeters for the stories people submit?
A: I really don’t. I let people interpret it as they will. I also don’t curate the account at all. I post all the stories people submit, in the order received. If someone thinks their quilt has a story worth telling, I want @quiltstories to be the place where they share it. And I really believe that every handmade quilt has a story worth telling. The people who follow the account have all been so sweet and supportive when folks share quilts, whether they are commenting on a master quilter’s work or a first time quilter’s work. The focus is more on the intention of the maker, and a little less on the end result. I think it’s a special corner of social media, where positivity and encouragement are the norm.
Q: When did you start the page and how many stories have you received since you started?
A: I started the account in October 2016. I’ve shared a story almost every day for the last 9 months. There are almost 200 stories posted, and the Quilt Stories community, as I like to think of it, has grown to over 3,000 followers.
Q: What is the funniest story you’ve received?
A: I don’t actually receive a lot of funny stories! Most of them are more purely in the happy or sad range. But I can think of a couple. My favorite has to be from Jill of @pieladyquilts who sent in a story about a quilt she made called “Let’s Get Married” (pictured at left). She explained how her husband proposed so unexpectedly (after a very short courtship!) that she “nearly drove off the road.” Her full description was funnier than mine. You can scroll back and find her post on December 8, 2016.
Q: What story made you the most emotional?
A: Oh, wow… There are so many beautiful stories submitted, that either make your heart break or burst with happiness. It feels impossible to choose one. Nikki of @babylovesquilts sent in a quilt (pictured at right) she made for friends who lost their baby 23 weeks into their pregnancy. That was a heart-wrenching story. Many quilt stories I receive tell a story of loss and grief. A memorial quilt can bring healing both to the maker and the recipient. On the happier side, I loved a story from Melanie, @southerncharmquilts, about admiring a picture of her great-grandmother with a beautiful hexie quilt top (pictured at left), but no one in her family knowing where that quilt had ended up. Not long after, Melanie received a phone call from her grandma, who had found the quilt top, bagged up and in mint condition. Melanie was, of course, thrilled, and went on to finish the quilt. Quilters finishing long-forgotten quilts is a common theme, and always a happy story.
Q: What are your plans for the project?
A: I can’t say that I have any plans for the project, other than to keep posting as long as people are willing to share their stories with me and the Quilt Stories audience. Thank you for featuring Quilt Stories, and thank you for all the great work you to do preserve stories of quilts at Quilt Alliance!