Q&A: On ‘reverse-engineering’ and more…

Question: What do you mean by ‘reverse-engineering’, and why would I want to do that?

Answer: I’ll admit: I’m not drawn to quilting because I’m one of those creative, artistic, talented types. I love quilting because I love puzzles, math, color, history, and building stuff. I’m not great at coming up with new and amazing quilt patterns, but I love the challenge of deriving patterns from quilts I’ve seen and liked. This is what I mean by “reverse-engineering” quilts. I see stuff I like and I figure out how to make it.

Question: If you like vintage quilts so much, why not just buy them?

Answer: Yes, there are a million vintage quilts out there that a person could buy. I’ve purchased a few myself. Yes, vintage quilts are lovely and charming, but I’m a practical person and I think there’s a use case for new quilts with a vintage look and feel.

The case for new quilts:

  1. Quilts made from modern fabrics and sewn with machines, as opposed to by hand, are stronger and more durable than vintage quilts. You can even wash them in the washing machine without worrying that you are destroying a piece of American History! I am a mother and a step mother, so I believe in having quilts be vomit-resistant — meaning: washable.
  2. Vintage quilts weren’t actually made to fit modern sized mattresses, so if you see a quilt you love and want to buy it, it may or may not actually fit your bed.
  3. You can make a new quilt any size and any color you wish with the vast array of reproduction 30s prints out there.
  4. And, of course, if you just buy something, you don’t get to have the fun of actually making it yourself!

Question: I saw a quilt at a national retail home decor store that I love. Can I reverse-engineer that?

Answer: Yes, of course, but don’t do it to save money because you won’t! Having a queen-sized quilt professionally quilted can cost hundreds of dollars, and that doesn’t include the cost for the fabric, thread, batting and backing — not to mention the hours of effort to create it. For me, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to make a quilt that is mass-produced, but who am I to tell you what would or would not be fun for you? If it makes you happy, go for it.

Question: Can’t you just buy a quilting book with the pattern you need, or download a pattern from the internet?

Answer: Of course you can! I have many many quilting books, and I love them all, and have made many fun quilts from them. I have also downloaded many patterns online and made quilts that way, too. I imagine most of us get our inspiration and ideas from multiple sources, so just consider this a single, available, free source for quilting patterns and ideas. I encourage you to embrace inspiration wherever you may find it.

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