Leah Day posted about the chemicals we use in quilting a while ago, and how those may affect the life of our projects. The researcher in me was especially interested in a scientific study on adhesives used in quilting that she linked, which ran tests on the effect certain spray bastes, fusible webs, and fusible battings have on fabric over time.
I’m a nostalgic kind of person. I like the idea of having tangible connections to the past, am someone who hopes her descendents might pull out a quilt saying “my great-great–aunt Rachael made this way back in the early 21st century” or something. Maybe it is because I have very few heirloom items (dating more than two generations back) of my own family’s due to various bungled moves, natural disasters, and general neglect—not much more than some photographs survive in my family line, to my knowledge.
But on the other hand, I lean toward creating items that are meant to be used, loved, and washed—all things inimical to conservation. I occasionally use fabric that isn’t quite the quality I’d like because the design printed on it is perfect for the project. I don’t always go back over a seam with a skipped stitch or two, figuring it will be years before it starts to matter.
It’s hard to know what might be considered an heirloom, even. Maybe that quick baby quilt you threw together on a deadline becomes so dear to a child that when they have children of their own, it is that quilt they want to pass down—not the one you made with heirloom-quality materials and presented to them later in life. The quilt your child hates because it is so “old-fashioned” might be “quaint” or “retro” and favored by their own children.
Crafting is always a wager—will it be liked? Will it be kept? Will it be cared for? Will it last?
So, you take a risk, and have to begin making decisions. Should you only use only high-quality fabric because it might become an heirloom? Do you decide to alter design decisions so that you don’t have to use certain products? Or do you continue using them, knowing your quilt might only last for your lifetime? That you might be endangering your profitability if a museum doesn’t want to take the risk that your art can’t be preserved?
It’s a question that is important to any creative person—regardless of intended audience or medium (or possibly precisely because of those things).
I don’t have an answer for my own projects. Immediately, I just ran out of 505 spray, and was going to try a cheaper alternative, but am reconsidering after reading that study on spray bastes—of the three, it had no severe effect compared to the control.
I’m working on the Organic Spins quilt, using Steam-A-Seam Fusible Web. It’s not one of the tested products, so who knows how it will hold up. I’m still going to use it—I’ve already started and have no desire to do turned-edge applique without it, and would prefer that to raw-edge.
But, that is a project for myself. If I want to make it for someone else, would I make the same decisions? Probably, but with less conviction than for my own.
What decisions do you make about the products you use in crafting? Is it something you care deeply about, or do you prefer to make what you wish, using what you will, regardless of the possible issues down the road? Somewhere in-between?