When I was approached by Fat Quarterly to be a guest blogger I was stumped on what I would write that would be new to the quilting world. I am not a novice to quilting, though in this age of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and now Pinterest….I am but a babe. So please, humor me as I blog about my love of quilting in 2011. Quilting on the WEB.

I spend much more time than I would like to admit perusing the quilting blogs; however, this is not a completely mindless task without any redeeming value. You see, I began quilting over 20 years ago, long before we owned a personal computer so any quilting information I was able to glean came from books, family, quilting guilds and an occasional quilting show on PBS.

In retrospect this was not such a bad way to learn to quilt, but having Flickr, blogs and groups to provide inspiration certainly has its advantages. Via the Internet, enthusiasts can view images of Modern Quilting and join Virtual Bees. The best part of being a quilter at this moment in time is the ability to instantly share and display projects thereby inspiring other quilters along their journey.

We all know the joy of attending a quilt show and nothing can replace taking in the design and detail in person, but a virtual quilt festival allows us to view a quilt in Australia while, at the same time, marveling at a quilt in Ohio. Anyone can be a participant, whether this is a first quilt or an award winning creation. Several quilt festivals can be found on the Internet such as The Blogger’s Quilt Festival sponsored by Amy of Amy’s Creative Side, http://amyscreativeside.com/

Social media has opened up possibilities in quilting that would have taken months if not years to take root in a by-gone era. My favorite discovery, bar none, is the fresh approach to hand quilting. No longer are we restricted to marking quilt tops and stacking stitches on micro – needles. Instead, we can enjoy the variety of color in perle cotton and making fun big stitches that add so much charm to any quilt. The increasing interest in hand quilting with perle cotton has taken off with images being shared world – wide through groups dedicated to just this form of stitching.

With internet access, not only can I assist a fellow quilter (or ask for assistance) in choosing the right needle, weight of thread or design ideas via a social network, but I can also post a tutorial on my blog to reinforce techniques taught in class. In turn, my students can access that information complete with pictures any time day or night.

Fabric selection and fabric lines are accessible to everyone with the advent of online shops. Their advertisements frequently dot the pages of blogs, but still my heart remains true to my favorite local fabric shop. Nothing can replace the warmth of my shop and the personal relationships I have developed there. Fabric was meant to be seen and touched, but if I can’t find that special out-of-print fabric, you can bet I will be scouring the net for that lucky score.

Quilting has always been a social activity whether women were gathered around a frame piecing, quilting and sharing life stories or in a guild teaching and learning from more seasoned quilters. Most importantly quilting is a family affair as mothers, daughters and grandmothers pass on the blocks handed down through the generations.

Today we share, inspire, motivate and teach each other in a much more global way. It is an exciting time to be a quilter and a wonderful time to be learning to quilt. The ideas are abundant and help is easy to access. So grab your PC and your quilting hoop, as two very different worlds collide, one steeped in tradition and tempered by time and one full of the innovation and vision of the modern age. Each working together to link the world of quilters; and you are the beneficiary.

Bio: Mary Dugan of Molly Flanders resides in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, three daughters (Molly, Maggie and Mary) and one mutt named Flanders. She began sewing as a young girl with her grandmother, mother and sister, but became serious about learning to quilt as a young woman. Mary has a degree in education with an emphasis in art. She began quilting after “retiring” from her position as an elementary teacher – choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. Now Mary enjoys teaching quilting and creative classes at Sew To Speak in Columbus, Ohio.

WEBSITE…. www.mollyflanders.blogspot.com