Leave Something Behind as Proof that I Was Even Here!

Well, if you made it this far, then you are one of the first visitors to my very new blog called Carl’s Quilt Life. It’s been my long-time goal to have a blog that partly presents some of my quilting work and sometimes talks about my perspectives and life experiences. Like many of us, I wonder if others will find what I have to say about life and that quilting matters……only one way to know! It all sounds a little self-indulgent, but let’s see where it goes.

I consider myself a relatively new sewist (is that a word?) and quilter, having only owned a sewing machine for about 3 years. I’m primarily self-taught and learned almost everything I know from the many hours I’ve watched YouTube videos on quilting techniques. I don’t care for the word “crafter.” It’s a word that can have a positive meaning but is sometimes used with a negative connotation.

I also think that sometimes people believe quilting is something made up of blocks and triangles and squares only. Yes, that is part of it, but using fabric is just like many other art forms—perhaps one that is often forgotten. It was so rewarding to see quilts hanging in the Whitney Museum in NYC along with some of the most significant other art pieces. But really, why do I care too much about what other people think….call me a crafter, a quilter, whatever…..I sure do enjoy what I am doing! When I am working with fabrics, I temporarily am transferred to a place and time where there is minimal worry, and I also lose a sense of real-time.

I believe that every stitch I make, every fabric I select, every hour I spend at my machine makes me a better artist. Like many people, I was deterred as a child because I “couldn’t even draw a decent stick-figure.” With so many mediums for art, we do a disservice to kids when we tell them they won’t be good drawers or painters. Telling kids they won’t ever be good at things, especially art, certainly helps them find their way to that untruth. I wish I had started sewing earlier, but perhaps the time just wasn’t right.

Like all of us, I’m someone in transition. In my current and prior life, I am/was a long-term oncology RN, researcher (with a Ph.D.), book and journal author, consultant, public speaker, and a 20 year Army Officer. Sure, I could list all my extraordinary degrees and life accomplishments. Yet, I feel my life moving away from a career and spending more time honing my art. I feel I’ve come to sewing later, and so I want to spend as much time doing that which makes me happy.


I’m proud of who I’ve been in life, for the patients with cancer I have cared for. Those patients often fondly work their way into my mind as I am sewing….Those exceptional people make up a memory of patchwork of who I have become in life. In a future blog, I might describe how quilting has helped me begin to let go of the person I was in the past, my personal persona, and move forward to being a different part of me.

I love color! When I try to work on quilts that have less dramatic colors, I just feel bored…….so I set out to have pizzaz and brightness and a modern flair to my work. Like every quilter, I have good days and bad days! I have lovely quilts hanging on walls and others hiding in drawers. I try not to take myself too seriously…….

I have a dream of someday having an award-winning quilt, a blue-ribbon winner! The near-perfect quilt that in that very moment pleases viewers’ eyes and makes them say “WOW!” This desire is a double-edged sword which is probably the case for most artists. Let perfection rule the road……and there are many ways working with fabric and a sewing machine can quickly go wrong and ruin perfection. Maybe something else I will talk about in the future.

But until then, I also want to have fun along the way. I want these later years of my life to amount to something, something tangible that others can look at and witness that I was actually here!

And so from one of my favorite Beyonce songs: “Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget! I was HERE!” Thanks for making it this far and being here for me.

Until next time……try something like sewing, painting, or pottery…..you’ll be amazed at how much better it makes you feel.

Carl (aka @quiltcarl)