I think the biggest advantage was having to figure things out, which led to being inventive and finding creative solutions, in view of the lack of resources in a non-quilting country. You know the saying: necessity is the mother of invention. So I figured out how to make templates out of card stock for my applique projects. I also figured out that the 5/8″ seam allowance that I used for sewing clothes was way too big for patchwork projects. And since I didn’t have a quilting hoop, I learned to quilt block by block long before I found out it was actually a viable, modern technique!
Naturally there were disadvantages… I used the one and only type of needle for everything (Chinese, and terrible quality). And finding 100% cotton fabrics and specialized sewing tools in this country is still quite a feat. So when I finally was able to travel to the U.S. I was floored by the many resources available, and for the first time was able to stock up on supplies and begin to learn why certain tools worked better than others. At that point, the Internet (via the World Wide Web) was still my teacher. In that time of mostly personal websites and the odd quilting forum, I was still a lonely quilter. The kind of interaction that exists today was not a reality yet (guest books on personal websites were the “in” thing).
Jared proved to be the driving force once again that led me to starting my own quilting website. When he saw the long list of quilting bookmarks I had, all nicely categorized, he knew it was something I should share via a website. And so my first website – Piece by Piece – was born. It consisted mainly of a listing of over 1,500 links to free PP patterns. With this decision, the doors were opened up to me to participate much more actively in a world-wide quilting community. At their invitation, I joined several forums and, at last, I was no longer a lonely quilter.
It was a privilege for me to be invited to participate in one small group in particular, with about 50 participants from several countries around the world. (The quilts you see in this post were from swaps held in this group.) To date, being able to share with people from such a variety of cultures and languages has been one of the richest, most profound experiences of my quilting life, on par only with what I have been given through teaching . I participated in this group for a decade, until it was quite unfortunately disbanded. I will always be grateful for all we were able to share.
There is actually a reason why I have chosen to share this with you today. I see that one of the current trends in the blogging world at this moment has to do with giveaways. I myself offered several last year, as I will continue to do this year, too. As I understand it, probably one of the strongest reasons for offering giveaways is to drive traffic to a given website or blog. I get that. This, however, is not my reason. For me, it’s about building friendships. The giveaway is simply the incentive to get people to “talk.” You have to post a comment to participate… and I get to know a little about you. If you have a blog, I get to visit you, too. And we start to build relationships.
Quite unfortunately, I also discovered that often giveaways are closed to “international” participants. I’m not sure what the reason for that is, and my purpose here is certainly not to oppose it. Since I have benefited so much from exchanges between “internationals,” I would simply like to invite us all to keep an open mind to the possibility of learning from each other, and not closing others off. There is a lot we can share and learn from each other, and especially from those who might quite possibly have a very different background (and perspective) than our own.
To that end, I have invited a few quilters from several countries (outside the U.S.) to share their stories with us over the next couple of weeks. I hope you will enjoy getting to know them a little, and that reading what they have to share will be inspiring to you, too.
If you are an “international quilter,” too, and would like to share your story, please let us know: angie at ajpadilla dot com!