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To cut or not to cut: Quilted Coats

quilted coat
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  • Tanner says

    What a thoughtful piece about something I’ve been wondering about! Thank you for the well-rounded analysis. And I’d enjoy hearing more about your time working with the National Geographic connection when you have time to share!

  • Janet Deschamps says

    Love your thoughts. Contemplating making a quilt coat- sounds delish to be wrapped up in a quilt all day- without sitting on the couch! Hardest part will be cutting up a quilt.

  • Cheryel Lemley-McRoy says

    Your quilt coats are indeed beautiful. I have been a quilter for decades. All my quits are hand quilted. A lot have been hand pieced also. If you ever take a quilt class, especially a hand quilting class, and viscerally understand what it’s like to spend hours of your spare time bent over a quilt, perhaps you would gain a more experiential understanding of quilts.
    I have also inherited my husband’s grandmother’s quilts. They are in a cupboard and may be someday in someone else’s cupboard. Because I do not feel like I own them. I am only the caretaker until they can go to a descendant of Great Grandma McRoy who will cherish her history. And it is up to each owner of the quilt how it will be displayed.
    There are many various folklores in different parts of the world that all essentially say a quilt is a spiritual object. It carries a part of not only the quilter but all the descendants through whose hands it passed. In some cultures quilters will leave a few strands of their own hair tucked inside the quilt somewhere. I’ve done that for my children’s quilts.
    There are a couple of ladies in my quilt group that search second hand shops for quilt tops in need of quilting. We gather around and work on these quilts, and I always think about the quilter and wonder what her life was like.
    My suggestion for you is that you use the factory made quilts from Asia or Mexico. They do not have the provenance that a handmade quilt in America has.

    • Myrissa says

      The provenance is the beauty. I think the best quilt I ever made was a lovely one for my youngest brother . It’s scrapped together from all of his old teddy bears. A while back his dog accidentally tore it. He saw this jacket thing going on and made it into one with the help of my mom. It’s a warm feeling to see him still use it even though he isn’t a kid. I smile every time he’s in it. I know that’s just our opinions being different between who we are. But cheaply made quilts don’t carry the same weight, passion, and quality.

  • Myrissa says

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have learned quilting from my grandma when I was little. I still quilt. My favorite jacket she made me from a quilt before she passed, before this whole fashion trend. In Japan there is a similar practice of constantly repairing old clothing till it is patchwork and heavy. I hope people reuse my quilts like that. Sure, they keep the bed warm, but I don’t want them put up in a cabinet. I didn’t work this hard for art, I worked this hard for story and function. I don’t wanna pass away and have them left as they are. I want them to always be with people. I think this process of recycling and remembering is much better than recycling and forgetting.

  • Anna says

    As a passionate maker of many things quilting is by far my favorite artform. Most of my quilts are hand stitched and this means hundreds of hours can go into even a baby sized quilt. I don’t think people understand this. My daughter sent me a picture of a quilt coat two years ago and my first thought was ‘My God, did someone cut up a quilt? Blasphemy!!’ My second thought was ‘That is so, so beautiful, I want to make that!’ And one hundred and 150 hours later…I did.

    I strongly agree with the first poster. Don’t cut up heirloom quilts. That means taking the time to understand the difference between a quilt that is one of twenty that someone makes in a year and a quilt that has hundreds of hours of a someone’s love and care woven into it. In the same way that you wouldn’t cut up a beautifully crafted antique wooden table to make a shelf, one should respect the craftsmanship of women who quilt. Not all quilts are equally valuable and it is important to know the difference.

  • Georgia says

    This conversation reminds me of the children’s book “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat”. It’s a Jewish folktale about a man, Joseph, whose overcoat is old and worn. He trims it into a jacket and wears it in to town. The motif continues; he trims the old jacket into a vest worn to a party, a scarf worn to a wedding, a necktie worn to visit family, a button to hold his suspenders.

    Of course some quilts are meant to be displayed as art, and their creators feel most honored when these works are displayed on beds, walls, quilt racks. However, other quilts are meant to warm and enfold, to make the most of lean resources, to create something new and joyful out of something old and sad- and some quilters get most pleasure from this miracle of resurrection. Especially with old, damaged quilts, repurposing into a beautiful jacket may be done with great reverence to the original intent.

    Quilt repurposing can be resourceful and ethically, and predates the trend by centuries. Quilts themselves originated to repurpose other fabric scraps. So the real ethical question is one of respect for the artist. If she’s alive, ask her. If she’s gone, consider the wishes of family and friends. If it’s a thrift find, I say it’s fair game.