“From when civilization started they had scraps and wanted to make it into something useful and beautiful, all over the world.” Rianne Doller when talking about connection and sustainable quilting.
In this episode of EnvironMental Podcast we spoke with Rianne Doller, Founder of Kick Ass Quilts, about quilting. While you may think this is your grandmother’s craft, Rianne is on a mission to remove the stigma.
Rianne talks a lot about the creative freedom that quilting offers. That most people only think of quilting as literally, “making a quilt.” But actually, Rianne helped us redefine the craft as, “sewing through three layers of fabric.” By re-framing the definition of quilting for us, she made it easy to see how versatile the skill can be. Versatility is an important aspect of sustainability that we don’t talk about very often.
Quilting is a Useful Skill
We talked about quilting everything from blankets to toys to jackets in this episode of EnvironMental. As the pendulum swings towards sustainability and homesteading skills, quilting is absolutely going to crop up as a vital skill to have. We’re already seeing the TikTok sewing circles of Gen Z knitting and crocheting, it’s only a matter of time before quilting with scrap fabrics becomes THE hype. Patchwork is in, and quilting is the OG patchwork!
Bringing Joy to Sustainability
We would be hard pressed to find a more sustainable craft than quilting. The origins of the art are rooted in using all the scrap pieces of clothing – and that makes sense. Before the time of fast fashion, fabric was expensive, and creators needed to get the whole bang for their buck. Quilting fell out of favor with the advent of the waste culture, but with a resurgence of sustainable fashion, quilting is here to stay.
For the conscious consumer, an art form that removes eco-guilt from the conversation makes it easier to find joy in the creativity. And Rianne makes sure that her quilting classes and groups are focused on bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. She doesn’t focus on the rules and straight lines, she concentrates on the craft itself: pairing fabrics, finding ways to re-use each piece in the best way, and crafting something meaningful.
Changing Consumer Behavior One Quilt at a Time
There is no other way to say this: we are steeped in a buying culture. This has to change if we’re to transition to a sustainable future. But that’s a challenge because we are asking people to make a lifestyle change. The best way to do this is by teaching and learning maker skills because it teaches us value and shows us what we really need.
Finding Value in Something Small
One of our favorite things that Rianne is doing with Kick Ass Quilts is teaching people the value of small things. A quilt can be something practical like a blanket, or it can be something as small as a coaster. Regardless of what you’re creating, a handmade memory quilt will always hold value for the creator and the receiver.
It isn’t enough to just understand value, the next step for us in the transition to a sustainable world is to need less. In this episode we talked about the difference between giving a child 20 toys with no meaning vs giving a child 19 toys with no meaning and one toy that has meaning vs just giving toys with meaning. When it comes down to it, we don’t need meaningless goods.
Kick Ass Quilts is Leading from the Heart
We talk about this a lot with the folks we work with, and it was lovely to talk about it on EnvironMental too: the world needs heart-lead leaders. As we have progressed in civilization, we found ourselves so wrapped up in growth and monetary values that we have lost sight of taking care of each other. Of taking care of the planet. That has to change. If we aren’t the people to redefine what ‘growth’ means, if we aren’t making the difference, who will do it?
Quilting to Create a Safe Space
Something that we respect and appreciate is Rianne’s openness to talk about her introversion. Both of us are introverted too, and we understand the energy it takes to feel safe in public spaces. The world is designed around the male ultra-extrovert that feels comfortable in every conversation. But for women, introverts, and the neurodivergent, the world feels a little bit different. A little bit scarier, if we may.
Rianne is working actively to create safe, quiet spaces for people to learn quilting as a new skill. She said that sometimes group members are joking and laughing the whole time, and sometimes members don’t talk at all, they just enjoy the connection and the energy of the group learning together.