Over the last few years I've talked to a lot of quilt shop owners. It started in 2006, when I had the good fortune to write copy for 20 shops in Best of Quilt Sampler. Since then, I've talked with shop owners from Phoenix, North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia for Quilt Sampler profiles. They're a passionate bunch, these shop owners, and without fail they tell me how lucky they are to do what they do for a living, and how much they enjoy their customers.
During our conversations we talk about what's popular in their shops and the subject of quilt kits always comes up. Most shop owners spend hours preparing kits for grateful customers and say that kits are big sellers. Shop owners attribute their popularity to quilters' fears of choosing fabrics and colors. Others say quilters are busy people and that ready-made kits speed the process along.
I'll admit I've felt a little "above" quilt kits. A lot of the fun of quilting for me is combining fabrics to create something uniquely mine. I've felt the same dismissiveness when it comes to pre-cuts and making quilts from a single line of fabric. I love to mix the unexpected and I'm a big fan of scrappy looks, too. But there are days when time is short, or when my mind is too frazzled to design but I still want to sew, and that's when I've appreciated precuts. This baby quilt
and this lap quilt
were both made with pre-cuts and single lines of fabric and their simplicity provided a soothing break—the hours of almost meditative stitching and ironing, the pleasure of watching something grow. While there's nothing like the energy that comes from stitching something of my own design, there are times when life is already providing me with plenty of intensity and I just need to chill. That's when I'm grateful for kits and pre-cuts.
I believe there's a time and place for all kinds of quilting—the "I'm on fire with creativity" days when ideas and color combinations can't be contained, the days and weeks when I'm hot to try new techniques and willing to spend hours on a difficult pattern. But there are plenty of days when I'm just as happy to have an hour to strip piece and simply appreciate the feel of fabric slipping beneath my fingers. There's room in quilting for all kinds of effort, for the masterpieces and the quick-and-dirties. I'm learning that when it comes to quilting, there are no absolutes. I should never say never.
How about you...do you use kits and pre-cuts? Why or why not?