The group belonging/quilters uniform thing – take 2

I have commented before ( on this blog, dec. 2005, group belonging or useful opportunity?) on what traditional quilters seem to need to wear to quilting events – long denim skirts and with quilted bargello jacket in shades of pink , blue or mint with touches of navy come to mind. Among art quilters and their wannabes there is the same urge but often expressed in something hand dyed and therfore ‘arty’ – there’s some fabulously elegant gear around among art quilters and designers, I just don’t do art to wear and don’t feel I need to dress up like some painting to go to an opening or other art quilt event. I’m OK with that.

On the Quiltart list this morning, one writer commented she was going to a school reunion this weekend, and how she felt she needed to wear something home-made and artsy to demonstrate her success as a quilter in the context of competitiveness coming out at such times as class reunions – and said she was determined to finish the binding of sweatshuirt designer jacket she began in someone’s class a while back, to wear at the dinner on saturday night, where everyone else will be in ‘normal’ but presumably their good clothes – here’s part of what I wrote:

” …. think – will the professional sports coach be there in sweats and trainers? will the cardiac surgeon turn up in full gear and facial mask wielding scalpel? will the ceramic designer turn up in clay-spattered apron over shirt and jeans? Will the gourmet restaurant chef turn up in his cooking gear? Of course not, so please re-consider this quilters urge thing ( to which I have never succumbed, incidentally, although I did buy a tiara to wear to Houston in the event I get there one day…) Better to swear something snazzy and glam/business-like and have plenty of business cards with your details including website and email address to hand out to everyone you meet. No website? Well, anyone who pays any particular attention invite them to call sometime to arrange for a studio visit ……O why why why do quilters feel they must wear something quilted or pieced to somehow display that they have had success? The medium will never be taken seriously as an art medium unless ths kind of thinking fades amongst us.”

On the list and and personally there were perhaps 8-10 emails in response, more in agreement with what I said, a couple not so. One writer pointed out that the examples I gave were all of uniforms and different from designer art to wear. She had a point, but, actually, I don’t feel anything with ‘sweatshirt.. ‘ in the description really qualifies as Designer Wear…. but it also missed the point I was making about what I call the Quilters Uniform we see so often at exhibitions – denim skirt or jeans – nothing against either of them except when topped with a jacket that looks as if it is a cut-down bed quilt, or as someone else described it, ‘quilty clothing’, in the most extreme classic case an ohio star block or similar placed centre back, surrounded by log cabin infill, and only very rarely flattering to the slender figure – which most quilters are not – and I include myself in that.

After further on-list discussion, the school-reunion attending quilter did comment that the gathering is in Miami and that the jacket will probably spend most of the evening over the back of a chair, anyway, where it will be seen to better advantage than on her, since there were a couple of places where she felt the fit and resulting drape isn’t as good as it could be. QED.

3 Responses to “The group belonging/quilters uniform thing – take 2”

  1. downunderdale says:

    couldn’t agree more, Alison. I have never worn any of my art – I have never seen photos of Monet wearing waterlilies for instance either. I didn’t realise that you can’t be a real artict unless you wear what you do!!


  2. Felicity says:

    I agree and I’ve always found it ironic that artistic people dress in uniforms (the all black look, the woolly jumper and dangly earings look, the colourful draping linens and dangly earrings look – and there are probably others!)in order to say they are ‘different’!

    Unless you are teaching beginners quilting on a cruise ship, I think the quilted jacket is best avoided by ‘art quilters’ 🙂

  3. Anne Wigfull says:

    My only foray into wearable art was an eye catching floppy hat to wear in the garden one hot summer. No one would sit out there with me and my husband bought a huge umberella so that I wouldn’t need to wear it at all. I took the hint when it mysteriously disappeared.

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