Quilting: A Metaphor

I am fascinated by colour, texture and design; I am a quilt maker, as well as a business person.
Quilting can be a metaphor, an allegory for many things in our world.

The process, the basic steps to complete a task is the same whether it is quilting, planning a project, managing a business or an economy. You need the goals, the tools and the steps to be completed in order to achieve the objective. The basic steps are inherent to all projects.

With quilting you select the fabric, the colours, the pattern. You wash, iron, cut, stitch; iron, stitch; iron, stitch until the piece is assembled. If it is not coming together properly you take it apart, re-cut and try again. Sewn by hand or by electric needle (AKA a sewing machine) the process remains the same.

Step by step the pieces are gathered and assembled towards the desired outcome, the end result of which could be wildly colourful, subdued or cautious. It could be a sound economic formula or a radical new solution to an old problem.

A friend of mine who is an author and a quilter wrote a beautiful article about discovering quilting as her marriage was crumbling. She began buying subdued fabrics. She cut traditional blocks and sewed with hesitant stitches. Her work was not neat or well composed. Someone told her that her first effort was worthy of the dog’s bed. She persevered. As she adjusted to the process of divorce and a new life as a single mother she made sure the sewing room in her new home was neat and organized while her life was in chaos.
As she learned and grew and adjusted to her new life she discovered that she was choosing brighter colours and the quality of her stitching improved. One day she went to a fabric store and discovered a world of velvet, satin and laces. She became more adventurous in her patterns and colours. She was healing, putting one step in front of the other.

Her ex-husband had a girlfriend, then he got married. She tried dating which in the beginning was just as messy as her first quilts.
Her ex-husband’s new wife became pregnant. My friend found love. As she wrote the article she was making a crib quilt for her ex-husband’s new baby. And she moved on with her life and planned her own wedding.

The process of cutting, ironing and stitching are analogous to growing and healing and to project management. Whatever symbolism we use for the steps in dealing with crisis or chaos there are steps we take. We have an objective. We put one foot in front of the other. We move forward slowly and then more confidently – to change – to grow – to heal – to complete a task.

For me with my quilting and with my life, I have periods of explosive, compulsive creativity, then fallow periods, periods of introspection, processing, deciding on next steps. I touch the fabric, study the colours but I cannot cut or stitch or step forward. I cannot envision the design or the outcome. So I pause and wait.

Then a moment comes and colours show themselves in wonderful combinations, shapes appear in my mind’s eye and the creation takes shape. In between the times of creativity and times of contemplation, I collect unfinished projects and wait for the inspiration to complete them.

One foot in front of the other, I may complete one or two unfinished pieces before I allow myself to discover a brilliant new colour combination to inspire me.

Colours, cutting, stitching, ironing
One step at a time
I create my life, my art and my business, as we all do, following the path one foot at a time.

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