The power of learning while doing in sustainability and quilting
06 oktober 2021 
6 min. read

The power of learning while doing in sustainability and quilting

Today I was looking through some old videos I made to promote Kick Ass Quilts. Most of these videos have never been published because I was too nervous. I am sharing one with you today because there are important lessons in it.

This is one of the first videos I’ve made. Something which can be deduced from the following:

  1. There are boxes and piles of stuff around me. This video is recorded very shortly after I moved into my own place. I hadn’t given everything its place yet (almost done now!). Also, the wall behind me is empty. Now that wall is my design wall for quilting.

2.  I am very nervous in this video. Staring in the distance collecting my thoughts, looking like a scared rabbit, and dumping ALL the statements in one sentence… It is still hard for me to be in front of the camera, but if I compare with a few weeks ago, I have grown so much! I’ve started to enjoy filming as well, because it suits my natural tendency for storytelling.

If done well, using old clothes and old fabrics for quilts is not only sustainable, but also more fun.

1.1. Does the video stand up to scrutiny?

I’ve done more research on sustainability, and the statement that fashion is the second-most polluting industry might not be true. The reality is more complex because there are different ways of polluting such as emissions, chemicals, waste, etc. Also, a lot of industries rely on each other, so it’s hard to judge where the pollution of one ends and the other begins.

While I continue my research, I will keep writing about it on this website, so you can learn.

This also makes it difficult to assess where consumers can have the biggest impact. It’s difficult to find hard figures, and I am in the process of getting as much to the bottom of this issue as I can.

For now, I can only say with certainty that the fabric industry is polluting, causes human-rights violations and also has a huge impact on the economy of countries, both positive and negative. While I continue my research, I will keep writing about it on this website, so you can learn.

One thing I can tell you for now is that reducing both waste and the demand for new fabrics is definitely a step everyone has to take to reduce negative impacts of the fabric industry.

1.2. Important lessons to learn quilting and sustainability 

Even though, the beginning statement of the video might not be true, the video still teaches us something. It has lessons to remember when you start to learn quilting with Kick Ass Quilts or while working to become more sustainable.

  1. Allow room to make mistakes and to admit and learn from them. I'm improving my research on the figures of the impact of the fabric industry. I did with making a statement I could not substantiate in the long run.
  2. Learning by doing. I learn more about quilting and sustainability every day I work at it. The same will be the case for you. As long as we keep the learning process alive and open, growth will happen.
  3. Respect and kindness in the learning process. We all have our own pace of learning, and we all make mistakes. The only way to get better, and to help others to be better too, is by correcting their mistakes with kindness and understanding. There is no room for hate in Kick Ass Quilts.
  4. Time for joy. If we do not allow ourselves to enjoy our life, what’s the point of fighting for a better world? BTW. Here is a poem based on the grandpa joke: The Upcycle Blues.

While I learn to become a more confident teacher every day, you will grow in confidence as a quilter every day.

2.1. Longevity through quilts to increase peace and joy

In the end, the video has its flaws, however, I still stand behind the message. We need to use more of what we have, and buy less of what we don’t need. This won’t only reduce waste, but also creates experiences and objects with more longevity. In a volatile world, that is exactly what humankind needs to regain peace, because with peace comes joy in life. That is part of the reason the slogan of Kick Ass Quilts is:

"Societies trash will be our treasure"

2.2. Limitations in quilting materials aids creativity

If done well, using old clothes and old fabrics for quilts is not only sustainable, but also more fun.

Creativity thrives on limitations. I personally have found real beauty and originality in letting myself get inspired by what is already there, and continuing the dialogue with the fabrics and materials in the natural direction. My best work emerged from materials I got unexpectedly and found a way to turn into beauty and use. An example of that is the shirt and ties quilt I made for an old father and this penguin backpack made from curtain offcuts.

Tie and shirt quilt and quilted penguin backpack

Every time I start with a blank slate, I get stuck. There are unlimited options, which means there is no starting point. If everything is possible, nothing seems logical and the creative process breaks down.

2.3. Joy and room for creativity to thrive in my teachings

My goal is to teach others to trust in the magic of using existing materials and letting them speak for themselves to create quilts. This isn’t a difficult process. It’s all about creating the right setting and learning some basic tricks and techniques.

I promise you: when you implement my teachings, you’ll end up with the most loved and treasured quilts. Just as the scrap quilt I'm holding in the photo.

And this process is only possible if you dare to change your mind, make mistakes and learn while doing!

Rianne Kick Ass Quilts with her first colourful scrap quilt

About the author
Quilting has made me a stronger, more developed, and joyful person, and I've seen the same in many other people. Creativity is key to finding joy in life. There are many ways of being creative, I am your teacher in the quilting fabrication department.
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The 'Quilting Out of Your Home'  e-book teaches you how to create beautiful quilts with stuff you already own!

For example, turn the old shirts of your husband into a quilted laptop sleeve. Or turn the outgrown clothes of your children into a quilt for their bed.

If you enrol for the newsletter, you get the e-book as a gift. And I promise you I won't send spam, only the occasional tips and inspiration to recycle old fabrics into new items.

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