My New Hobby

is sewing/quilting/embroidery/textile arts.

Here’s my first quilt ( a small one, 29″ x 17.5″) which I finished last night. It’s for my Momz, who requested “a nude with all the bells and whistles.”

Everything I learned from teh interwebs, which is full of quilting information and many good videos. I especially like the web site & videos of Leah Day, who makes free motion quilting look much easier than it is. Leah shares her videos and knowledge freely, which works – I’m a fan now, and spent over $250 at her online quilting store. It’s a business model I’m familiar with.

Speaking of business models, there’s an argument made by copyright advocates that no one would do anything creative without monetary (or monopoly) incentives:
Incentive to Create

My past few weeks exploring quilting confirms this is absolutely not true. In less than a month of getting myself set up with a sewing machine, fabric, threads, and other supplies, I’ve probably shelled out $1,000. It started with an inexpensive sewing machine ($250), but then I needed special feet for it, and cutters, and an iron, and pins, and threads, and batting, and fabric, and a sewing table, and IKEA drawers to hold all this stuff, and on and on. And that was being budget-conscious; I could easily spend a lot more. In fact I really, really want a longer machine with more space under the arm; unfortunately those cost about $3,000.

I’m not alone: tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans pay for the privilege to create, not the other way around. Most quilters are not paid; most actually give their work away, to family, friends and charities. That’s folk art, people: it’s not done for money. And yes, it is art.

It’s very much like filmmaking, which is now a folk art.

“The film business has never been a business. It’s always been a hobby.” –someone whose name I don’t remember at a film conference I attended last year

Even setting aside independent film productions, which are hobbies in business clothing, most people spend more on video cameras and computers than they’ll ever get back selling their work. With the spread of cheap animation software, animation is now a folk art too. With the rise of print-on-demand self-publishing, novel-writing is also becoming folk art (Pirates of Savannah by Tarrin Lupo is what I’d call a folk art novel). All the super-elite arts of the 20th Century are becoming folk art.

Would I still like to make money with this? Yes, I would. But I’ve already spent plenty of money with no promise of monetary return. It’s been worth it so far, because learning has been exhilarating. Hopefully traditional folk arts, like quilting, will continue to gain respect as “real” art, even as “real” arts are adopted by the masses. I confess I would like to sell original pieces, if I keep making them. It’s really up to my Muse.

After the jump are some pictures of the making of “Eve,” which took 3 days (4 if you include the day I designed it):

taping the paper together
Cutting out the paper pieces.
I placed the paper pieces on fabric using bits of double-sided scotch tape, which I removed before ironing.
Paper & tape removed; fabric pieces assembled on "French Fuse" and ironed. I would have preferred to do them as applique on a solid blue ground, but I didn't have enough double-sided fusey stuff ("steam-a-seam 2", which I still haven't tried). I did however have a yard of French fuse.
Basting the 3-layer "sandwich."
I sewed the pieces down as best I could using a free motion zig zag stitch.
Beginning to add quilting texture.
Everything's textured in except the blue background.
Back of the quilt-in-progress. The fabric bunched up early on, and I forgot to put the pressure foot down a few times. It's far from perfect, but hey! It's my first quilt, OK?
Quilting done; now to bind those raw edges.
The finished, bound quilt. And by quilt I mean small wall hanging. It's approximately 29" x 17.5". And no, it's not squared off. It was painful enough binding the thing, I don't know if I'm going to have the patience to square a quilt, which involves soaking it, carefully measuring it, stretching it, pinning it to blocks (which I don't have) and letting it dry overnight.
My new work space. I hope my neighbor doesn't get too annoyed by the sound of the sewing machine, which is currently placed against our shared wall.

Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

11 thoughts on “My New Hobby”

  1. Wonderful, Neens. After all these decades, you continue to awe, inspire & arouse enormous affection! So amazing… phweeet-phew!

  2. Oh cmon! Square that baby up! It’ll be worth it and look even more awesome than it already looks.

  3. Nina, that design is absolutely gorgeous, so sensuous and thoughtful, and I love that you tried out an entirely new medium – Bravo!!

  4. I’m so impressed. You just went in there and got on with it, truly being creative, instead of worrying about ‘how-to’. Ignore the suggestion that you try to square it up. Looking awesome isn’t the main aim of the creative urge!And I think it looks fantastic anyway, square or not square.

  5. Love your result. There is a new book out called No Sewing Until you Quilt It by Ann R Holmes. Her designs are traditional applique designs and very complex. I like your simple approach. Quilts are easy to square up You don’t have to soak them. Good Luck on your new journey. After seeing your results I am starting my own Journey with fabric and french fuse for no monetary rewards.

  6. I’m very proud of you!!! You jumped into the deep in of the quilters pool with out even holding your breath. Very good. Sweetie you DO NOT need to soak, use blocks, and what ever else you listed to square up you mini quilt. All you need is a hot iron, acrylic ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat. Good luck with the swim sweetie.

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