Lisa Boyer became a self-taught quilter at the age of eight, patching together a salesman’s book of bedspread swatches with her toy sewing machine. She only took a few years off as she earned her degree in microbiology, worked as a clinical laboratory scientist, then became a sewing-machine mechanic, pattern designer, quilt teacher, writer, magazine columnist, and mother. Her varied interests have led her to write articles on such diverse topics as quilting, hurricanes, vegetables, shoes, and sewing-machine repair, just to name a few. Known to her friends as “the mad quilt scientist,” Lisa combines her love of quilting with her background in science and psychology, resulting in some strangely unique philosophies. Her first book, That Dorky Homemade Look—Quilting Lessons from a Parallel Universe, was written as a tribute to all the lovely, but less-than-perfect, quilts and quilters everywhere. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Kauai Magazine and the Orange County Register, in addition to her regular column in Quiltworks Today Magazine. Lisa’s quilts have appeared in Quilting Today, Quiltworks Today, Miniature Quilts and Kauai magazines. She also made a guest appearance on HGTV’s “Simply Quilts.” Lisa Boyer is a native of southern California. She now lives in Hawaii on the island of Kauai with her husband, a clockmaker by avocation, and their son.
That Dorky Homemade Look
I have a mixed bag of quilting friends. There are some who enjoy quilts as fine art, especially contemporary quilts with their innovative forms and use of color. Some of my friends are strictly traditional. They love the familiar Ohio Stars and Log Cabins and never tire of making them in different colors and settings. Some really love the primitive country look with its plaid backgrounds and charmingly-cut crooked stars. There are many styles to be drawn to, and some beginners dabble in every kind of style before they find their niche.
Personally, it took me 10 whole years of dabbling before I found my quilting identity. Why so long? Because I had to find my own style. As a matter of fact, I had to invent it. I call it the "Dorky Homemade Look."
Now I know what you are thinking. I am not the first person to ever make a Dorky Homemade Quilt. But maybe I will be the first person to define the category as a bona fide art form. I believe this is the first step in public acceptance of the homemade dorky quilt genre, and I have elected myself the spokesperson. As the chief quilt dork, let me outline the steps necessary to make a quilt according to the current Dorky Homemade Quilt guidelines:
1 Pretty fabric is not acceptable. Go right back to the quilt shop and exchange it for something you feel sorry for.
2 Realize that patterns and templates are only someones opinion and should be loosely translated. Personally, Ive never thought much of a person who could only make a triangle with three sides.
3 When choosing a color plan for your quilt, keep in mind that the colors will fade after a hundred years or so. This being the case, you will need to start with really bright colors.
4 You should plan on cutting off about half your triangle or star points. Any more than that is showing off.
5 If you are doing applique, remember that bigger is dorkier. Flowers should be huge. Animals should possess really big eyes.
6 Throw away your seam ripper and repeat after me: "Oops. Oh well, no one will notice."
7 Plan on running out of border fabric when you are three-quarters of the way finished. Complete the remaining border with something else you have a lot of, preferably in an unrelated color family.
8 You should be able to quilt equally well in all directions. I had to really work on this one. It was difficult to make my forward stitching look as bad as my backward stitching, but closing my eyes helped.
9 The most important aspect to remember about dorky homemade quilt-making is that once you have put your last stitch in the binding, you are still only half-finished. The quilt must now undergo a thorough conditioning. Give it to someone you love dearly. They must drag it around the house, wrap themselves up in it when they have a fever, spill something brown on it, and occasionally let Woofie lay on it. It must be washed and dried until it is as soft and lumpy as my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.
Now that I have described the Dorky Homemade Quilt, Im sure many of you are saying to yourself, "Oh yes, Ive seen one of those; it was covering Aunt Wilhelminas tomatoes during the last frost," or something of the sort.
And I hope youve gained an appreciation for those of us who actually strive to make the quilts that never quite gain "heirloom" status. We deserve recognition for making the kind of quilts that your cat has kittens on, or Grampa Bob covers his tractor with. If we didnt make Dorky Homemade Quilts, all the quilts in the world would end up in the Beautiful Quilt Museum, untouched and intact. Quilts would just be something to look at. People would forget that quilts are lovable, touchable, shreddable, squeezable, chewable, huggable objects to wrap themselves up in when the world seems to fall down around them.
Therefore, in the interests of promoting the Dorky Homemade Quilt cause, I urge you to make at least one Dorky Homemade Quilt in honor of all the well-loved quilts that gave their lives for the advancement of our art. Or make one just because it feels good.