Quilts on the wall and on the bed

What Kind Of Quilter Are You?

Most quilters I know were stunned to read and watch a PBS documentary about Ken Burns quilt collection. I was surprised, and proud. I wish I had the words to express my thoughts and feelings about making quilts, thankfully, Ken Burns does it better.

Here’s a link to an article from the International Quilt Museum display named Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection. A particular quote, noted below, was so impactful that my friend wrote it down in her notebook to show it to me (thanks Nancy).

“As a collector, I’m looking for something that reflects my country back at me,” Burns said. “Quilts rearrange my molecules when I look at them. There’s an enormous satisfaction in having them close by. I’m not a materialist. There are too many things in the world, and we know that the best things in life aren’t things. Yet there are a few things that remind me of the bigger picture. We live in a rational world. One and one always equals two. That’s okay, but we actually want—in our faith, in our families, in our friendships, in our love, in our art—for one and one to equal three. And quilts do that for me.”

I’ve included a link to a New York Times article, I’m sorry ahead of time if you don’t have access to it, but just the picture helps tell a story about how Ken Burns feels about quilts. One quote about this quilt behind him goes like this, “I would not trade it for a $25 million painting by you-name-the-artist,” he added.


The study of quilts, especially in certain periods of American Culture, reminds us that quilters are great story tellers. We can replicate historical quilts and make up our own modern designs.

I’ve been thinking about what kind of quilter I am and what story do I want to tell. Do you ever think about that when you make a quilt? In the quilt patterns I am working on I realize I am telling a story, more so than 3/4’s of the quilts I’ve made that are safely tucked away in my many closets.

Hang quilts on your walls and throw them on your bed
  • Sun Seeker (done)
  • Paint Your Pony (done)
  • Mountain Lodge (almost done)
  • Bears In The Ally (this summer)
  • Bear 399 (this fall)
  • Double Arrow (this winter?)
  • Three Sisters? (someday)

I think I might be trying to tell a story about my small town of Red Lodge, Montana. We have a culture here that includes native influences, western history, neighborhood bear watching along with other wildlife interactions.

If you read to the bottom of this post, let me know what kind of quilter you are in the comments. I know when I go to quilt displays or show and tell at quilt meetings, there’s always a story. How should we document the story? I don’t this there’s room on the back label to tell the whole story.

I know I have friends who take pictures, keep them on their phones, sometimes even organized into albums. I’ve purchased those photo books before, some are quilt pictures with my dog. Maybe I should look for a format that I can print a picture and the whole story, just in case someone buys one of my quilts for a lot of money after I’m dead.

Love always

Calamity Quilter

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  1. I love making quilts! I believe that if you make quilts, you give quilts! I love to give quilts as well as enjoy them for myself.

  2. I document all of my quilts. In addition to the name of the pattern, I also include dimensions, where I bought my fabrics, when I started and finished, who I was with when I bought the fabrics (if I can remember ), why I made it in the first place, where I was living at the time, etc. As one who reads a lot of ethnographies, I find a great deal of value in details like that.

  3. I am a quilter that makes what my heart sees….I can never really follow a pattern. I may start out with one, but in the end, I put my twist on most everything I make. There are, of course, a few exceptions. I just wish there was more time in a day so I could make everything that is in my heart and in my head!!

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