No, not the expletives that we often hear when we make a mistake or sew our quilt to our jeans (yes, it has happened!) I mean the phrases we use to describe our techniques, designs and tools. Normal phrases to us but a totally foreign language to those not versed in our craft.
Take for instance the words “quilter” and “patchworker”? To those of us that have actually been initiated into the realms of cutting up fabric and sewing it back together again we understand the subtle difference between these two words but to the world at large we just sew! Hence the wonderful friends who greet you so enthusiastically with the phrase “Seeing you sew, I wonder if you could fix the split in my tracky daks?” Ah, the ignominy of it I think, don’t they realise my “sewing” is more sublime than mere repair work, that it is closer to an art form, creative and an expression of my inner self? (Well, that’s the image I have sometimes!)
And so I try to gently educate and impress upon them the complexity of our craft. Instantly I run into problems. If you have ever tried to teach someone new to patchwork you will understand how much explaining you need to do.
Recently, at our quilting group, the Champagne Quilters, we had a newbie. She was really interested in learning about quilting and had come armed with a notebook and high hopes of absorbing some of our knowledge and wisdom. She was testing the waters and seeing if it was for her. I wonder if she’ll be back!
Oh dear, it really wasn’t fair. There were seven of us and only one of her. We hadn’t seen each other for a month and as usual there were numerous conversations happening at once. At the same time as we were chatting I was trying to teach the others a new technique and everyone was at different stages of creativeness at once. It was bedlam! As we chatted and created we would hear a plaintive voice ask “So what’s a fat quarter?” and several explanations would ensue from various corners of the room. I’m sure the notebook would be interesting reading.
Here’s a few of our catch phrases that were queried:
Olfa cutter – even when we said rotary cutter we still needed to do a show and tell
Jelly roll – nothing to do with dessert and then this led to layer cakes and charm squares!
UFO – no, we are not all science fiction readers
Reverse sewing – plenty of that ‘cos no one listens to instructions!
Hanging sleeve – lots of laughs here as it has nothing to do with clothing
Finger press – are these finger exercises?
Walking foot – of course you use feet for walking, what do you mean?
And on and on – Sashing, borders, mitered corners, setting blocks, nine-patch, four-patch.
It was an exhausting and fun-filled day for us all and it made me realise yet again that quilting is a passion that needs to be absorbed over time, quietly savoured and patiently built upon until one day you realise that you are not just a person who sews squares together in random fashion but rather a person with creative flair and talent – a quilter!