I've always thought of myself as a real quilter... not a great quilter or an occasional quilter just a run of the mill every day quilter. You may know one. I seem to make a quilt every month or so for myself or others. I participate in charity quilting. I have aspirations of someday entering something in a big quilt show but if it never happens that's okay.
My tools are the same as every other quilter...rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, scissors, sewing machine, thread, fabric and batting. My results make me happy ... sometimes more, sometimes less.
Recently though I have become convinced that I'm not a Real Quilter. Its not how many quilts you make or how many ribbons you win or how many classes you teach that make you a Real Quilter.
What makes you a Real Quilter is why you replace your tools. Sewing machines wear out, rotary cutter blades get dull, fabric gets used. This can happen by using them for quilting or by other sewing activities. There is one tool that I have had to replace in a manner I have found out that that separates the men from the boys... so to speak.
That tool is the cutting mat.
Qulters use cutting mats with our rotary cutters and rulers to cut multiple pieces of fabric. My mats get ruined, not by rotary cutting fabric to make quilts but by other activitities such using them as table top protection when using a screw punch, staining small pieces of fabric and other non-traditional uses. When I have abused a mat enough that I fear for using it for its intended use I replace it with a new mat.
Real Quilters do not abuse their mats in non-traditonal ways.
They actually use it up by cutting so much fabric for quilts on it that it wears out.
Yup. They run their rotary cutters over it so many times that grooves form in the surface, the guide lines disappear and the glossy suface gets dulled.
Here's a shot of a Real Quilter's mat that's just about ready to be retired.
No other activity that I can think of, except cutting fabric for quilts, would get a mat into this condition.
Next time I see a quilter with a mat like this I will not thoughtlessly pity them for their apparent inabilty to afford new equipment but, instead, be in awe of the amount of cutting that has been done on their mat to get it in this condition.
How many yards of fabric were cut on this mat to make these grooves? How many quilts were made from this fabric?