Can I Call Myself a Quilter?
Michele Rae Muska
That’s a question I have been asking myself for years. I’ve made a few quilts in my life
but it’s not the only medium I work in. I always thought the title of “Quilter” came with
the honor of living and breathing quilts and making them every day. And wouldn’t I also
need a large body of work to back it up! I only have a few handfuls.
I made my first quilt when I was about nine. My Mom had taught me to sew on her old
cast iron Kenmore with a knee pedal..(oh I wish I still had that machine) and it was what
I sewed that sweet little nine patch out of all of the scarps from her stash. It was filled
with squares and half triangles from my school and party dresses and of course some
of hers. She made amazing clothes from those gorgeous Vogue patterns with the chic
women on the front. That was her to a T. That quilt was with me for years. My husband
and I used it for picnics and my little boys would sit upon it in the backyard when they
first learned to sit up. We found it awhile back and it was worn and tattered with love like
an old teddy bear. I will have to see if I can find it again.
My Mom and her sisters were my creative inspiration from the beginning. They were
painters, quilters, farmers, gardeners and wonderful cooks! My Mom doesn’t do all of
those but she is creative right down to her soul and doesn’t even know it. She will often
ask me, “where did you get all this from?” She answers herself every time the same way:
“it must be from my sisters and Aunt Sadie, she was a quilter”. Oh, and Aunt Sadie,
Fern and Mercy are a whole blog post in themselves! The women in my Mom’s family
were pioneers in Northern Maine’s Aroostook County. Fur wearing, deer hunting, trout
fishing, potato farming women.
Recently I was walked the show at Quiltcon and had such a wonderful time, I truly felt at
home. While I was viewing the quilts I heard some of the attendees talking about being a
quilter and what does it mean, they were from a more traditional background and weren’t
sure about what they were looking at. I can venture to say that most of us probably started
that way. I met up with Luella Doss, fabulous fabric designer and artist and I think she
summed it all up for our little group that had gather to discuss this thought. “They are
all just a fabric sandwich and everyone loves sandwiches, right?” (or very close to that).
Yes, a sandwich with thread I added. So I think that was my answer, if I make a fabric
sandwich with thread I’m a quilter. I love each piece I work on like it’s a dear friend.
That’s probably why it takes so long to finish one… I want it to stay around so we can
spend time together!
So even though my Mom has only made one quilt I think she’s a quilter too. And with
that said I guess I am too. It is truly an honor to be among the women and men that call
Michele is a fiber/textile artist and the Marketing Communications Manager for
Simplicity Creative Group which includes the brand EZ Quilting. Her fiber jewelry is
sold at museum shops and boutiques across the country. Michele’s designs and quilts
have appeared in national craft, quilt and food publications as well as on air in Quilting
Arts, It’s Sew Easy and Creative Memories.
Michele joined The Quilt Alliance as a board member 3 years ago and focuses on
business membership and is on the development committee.
You can see more of her work at www.lolarae.com.