One of my favorite questions that’s often asked in Q.S.O.S. interviews is “have advances in technology influenced your work?” Almost always the answer is yes–from new sewing machines to embroidery machines and even the rotary cutter, now tools and technology have certainly changed quilt making. One tool that’s mentioned over and over again isn’t available in a quilt shop, but many quilters use it every day: the internet! In today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight, three quilters share the way the internet has affected the ways they learn, create, and collaborate in the quilting world.
Patricia Wright tells how she uses the internet to learn new techniques and tricks:
“Now of course the internet, online, there’s so much information that you can grab just like that. If I have an idea, for instance recently I was thinking about, I don’t do machine embroidery, I don’t do that, but I saw some bobbin work embroidery that I thought was really fascinating and it would be something that I would enjoy doing. So, I just went to my computer, typed it in, and there it was, any kind of information you need. Of course, I think originally I got that idea for the bobbin work was maybe a TV show, or a magazine, I’m not sure there’s just a lot of information out there. We’re really lucky.”
Mary Kay Davis talked in her interview about how sharing a quilt with her mother-in-law was made even sweeter by developments in technology:
“I recently made a quilt for my mother-in-law–she just turned 90–and I had made one for her when she turned 80. I didn’t know I’d be making one for her when she turned 90. And, it was so much fun because of the Internet age, so here I sent her this quilt which was fun, but then her granddaughter took pictures of her opening up the box and showing the quilt and then she put that out on Facebook so that I got to see the pictures so the whole family was involved in seeing this quilt and learning about the quilt, and I think that was a lot of fun.”
Collaborative quilts and block exchanges are nothing new, but Jill Herndon used the internet to make quiltmaking bee an international experience:
“[In] about 1990, I was already online, and I belonged to a group called The Meta Network, which is a transformational community. It’s the longest-existing online community. And we met–this was before the days of the Web as we know it now–it got me online and I learned about lists servs and news groups, and I joined a list serv group that was a Nine Patch block exchange. And so I would make up eighteen blocks, somebody was organizing this, I’d get the addresses, send them all over the world, and get eighteen blocks back. And so I would get them from like inside the Arctic Circle. I had to write and ask some people where they were. And they were in remote places. So the Internet itself has made the quilting community closer. Just picturing that Nine Patch block coming from inside the Arctic Circle, and she couldn’t get the variety of fabrics that she wanted. This was wonderful to be able to use what she had and share and trade.”
Interested in reading more about how technology has changed quilting? You can find more quilt stories (online!) at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Alliance’s site!