Gender Kisses


One of my favorite songs is “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo and the Bunnymen. One of the verses is ringing true in a new way the last week or so, as it points out that gender is two sides of the same coin, we’re all in this together:

“She’ll be my mirror
Reflect what I am
A loser and a winner
The King of Siam
And my Siamese twin
Alone on the river
Mirror kisses
Mirror kisses”

Recently, I posted the article on Men and Quilting. My temper was high. Commenters tempers were high. Other blogger’s tempers were high. At first, I was worried that my piece wouldn’t do as I hoped, but then it started to happen! I started to be able to communicate with people one on one.

One of those people, was Molli Sparkles. I think we managed to come to a common ground – not agreement on all things – but rather a place from which we could really have a dialogue on the bigger than the quilt world gender issue. Despite how my article came off, my intent at heart is a community that works together and in which gender doesn’t really matter. I’m also a big believer that you need to be the change you want to see in this world, and that you have to start from where you are. I’m a quilter, so why not start with quilting?

So I told Molli that I had an idea. I wanted us to each make a quilt with equalizing rules, to see whether or not gender plays a role in quilt making itself.  Molli readily agreed to this experimental challenge. (I would actually love to have an entire exhibition on this idea, perhaps if this small test challenge goes well it could be a reality?)

We set some parameter rules to level the field:

  • Use the Raspberry Kiss block tutorial (based off the block “Pattern without a Name” attributed to Nancy Cabot) in any way we choose
  • The finished quilt must be approximately 40″x40″
  • Solid fabrics only

Men and Quilting

IndieQuilter QuotesAwhile back, there was a discussion that cropped up on men in the quilt world, sparked by a podcast with Luke Haynes on While She Naps. Stephanie Boon wrote a blog post at the time, speaking to exactly what I will be touching on today. The frustrating ease with which male quilters are able to obtain attention, press, and high earning potential in the quilt world, simply because they are male. (Because white male privilege isn’t pervasive enough in every other aspect of our lives.) But more so, the seeming denial they are in, that it’s there.

I was going to write a post back then, but I talked myself out of it. Told myself to stay calm.

Then today, as part of my morning ritual of searching for quilt news, I came across the article “Men who quilt” on The San Diego Union-Tribune. The tag line? “San Diegan part of biennial museum exhibit, ‘No Girls Allowed!’.

*cue the tires screeching sound*

I’m sorry, what was that?

That’s right, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, CO is doing a three month exhibition of pieces by men only called, “No Girls Allowed!”. One of the participants is the well known Ricky Tims.

The exhibits managers at the museum, Irene Berry, is quoted as saying, “Women have been quilting for centuries, and then men start doing it and suddenly it’s important.” Irene honey, if you’re the exhibits manager, don’t you have a say in whether this “man only” show tradition the museum has had going since 1992, can keep going? Why are you pandering to the patriarchal bullshit we have been dealing with since the dawn of time?

As far as claiming that there is a “gender barrier” for men in “our” quilt world, you can just screw right off if you believe that people men. Bitching and moaning that you’re not as welcome, or that people assume you’re the husband when you’re in a quilt shop, really? That must be rough.

But, do you know who REALLY pisses me off? The women that fawn all over male quilters. I’ve seen it, and you know you have too. Well passed middle age women, flirting and acting all giddy towards a male quilter (including openly gay quilters with husbands, making it all the more disrespectful to be flirting with them.) Really ladies? C’mon and stick with “the team” here, would you?

We are living in a society where women are STILL not paid equal to men. We have to fight every day to keep our medical rights OUR rights and decisions, and not some white male in Washington’s. We are often expected to work full time and STILL take care of all of the children’s needs as well as the housekeeping and cooking duties despite a perfectly physically capable husband/partner (Which is why I am thankful everyday for having found a man who can take care of himself.) We live in a world where, when we are raped the patriarchal society we live in questions if we wore something, or went somewhere, or too late at night, that makes us deserving of the rape. In a society in which our daughters are being sent home, education disrupted for wearing leggings and accused of distracting boys from THEIR education (which you should find just as insulting for your sons as they are say your boys are to animal like to control themselves.)

But yeah, you go ahead and lose your mind over a dude, because he can quilt, JUST LIKE YOU CAN.

I just don’t know what to do anymore ladies. There are women in this industry that have put DECADES into trying to make a decent living with our art in quilting and still come up profoundly short of being able to anywhere near support ourselves with it. But a man can start quilting, and seemingly months into it, is making a living and being invited to fricken museums for solo shows. Or having fundraisers to get a machine, or pay for a one man traveling exhibition. Well I call bullshit. Double bullshit!

Pretty much every business that profits from we quilters, is owned by a man; fabric companies, machine companies, thread companies, etc. Men are profiting from us, when we as a gender can’t readily make a profit from this industry that is keeping them housed and fed comfortably.

What I want to see, is women like Pokey Bolton, to become like the Martha Stewart of our industry and give the male dominated companies a run for their profits.

So tell me, are you a company that is owned and operated by a woman/women? Please tell me and I will feature your company on my blog. Do you know of a fabric/thread/need/notions company that is owned by a woman? Tell me about it and I will contact them for a feature here on the blog. It is time we start helping each other (ourselves) and stop giving one of the few businesses that WE should be profiting from to some guy who decided it might be neat to learn to sew on a button.

Please email the female owned companies you run or know of (or for you men that are going to be all pissed off at me) at

Yes, you can.

One of my biggest pet peeves is, “I can’t.” Seriously, I can’t stand that ideology. Before you think ,”Well, isn’t she just Miss Perfect who does everything right and has confidence”, I’ll tell you that I have often had that loathsome phrase fall from my lip. I hate it when *I* say it, even more than hearing it from others.

“I can’t free motion quilt.”
“I can’t figure out fractions.”
“I can’t design my own quilts.”
“I can’t learn to knit.”
“I can’t learn a new skill at my age.”

My big one for a long time?

“I can’t parallel park.”

Years and years and year (and probably years) ago, I was taking my driver’s license test (for the second time.) When it came to the parallel parking, I started crying because I knew I couldn’t do it. I had tried and tried while still learning and just could not get my brain to process it all in the right order to park the damn car. You have to understand, I had initially failed my driving test when I was sixteen years old. (That’s a whole other story!) In this story, I was now TWENTY years old. I had kept up my learner’s permit the entire time from 16-20 to avoid paying to take the class again. So, this driving test guy knows this. I’m still thankful for what he did that day.

He saw me crying and said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I can’t do it. I can’t parallel park. I panic every time and and the instructions all boggle together and I mess it up.” I must have looked and sounded dreadful, because what he did next was nothing short of a miracle.

“I will let you pass, if you promise me that you will never parallel park.”

Now, obviously making me promise to not learn how to do a skill in driving that can make getting around much easier is not that great of a thing. But at the time, it is what I needed. Getting my license started a process of finding a confidence and autonomy that I had not previous known. A process that led to November 16th, 2015. The day I freaking parallel parked a mothertrucking car. Not JUST a car, my Honda CRV.

I was meeting Flaun of I Plead Quilty for lunch, and there was only one spot left in an insanely busy Minneapolis parking lot. It was raining. The spot was barely big enough for me to fit. I just did it. I did it without thinking about how to do it really. And I did have to edge back and forth to fix it a bit once I was in there. But I damn well did it. (And I did it again a week later too!)

I think it helped that both times I was alone in the car. I panic when people are watching, and/or trying to “help”. But all the knowledge I needed was in my brain, I just needed the right moment and atmosphere to process and access it.

How does this relate to quilting?

When people are beginning quilters, they often say that they can’t do it. That they will never be as good as their teacher or idol. But, they are observing, taking classes, reading, looking at Pinterest boards of quilting, they are absorbing the information and knowledge they need to quilt. What they REALLY mean is that they can’t do it right now, that they aren’t as good as so-and-so yet. But one day, they will be at their machine, their mind will relax and settle a little and the next thing they know, they will be free motion quilting like a madwoman (or madman!) They will do it when their mind and body are working in synchronicity, they will get it when it’s just the right time.

So please, try not to say “I can’t” and stop there. Change your dialog to, “I can’t do that yet.” It’s so much more encouraging, and will likely help quicken your journey to mastering that new skill!

31 Days of Blogging: It Begins!


My friend Cheryl Sleboda has put forth a challenge:  “31 Days of Blogging”. What better time to commit to and prove your dedication to our blogs than over the busiest month of the year for most of us? I know I have gotten behind on my blogging, due to the classes I have been taking. However, I have even more classes coming up, but I still need to keep things going here. (Perhaps if I were able to limit myself to 15 minutes on social media a day like Cheryl, I’d get more done? Really Cheryl?? 15? Clearly you’re a goddess.)

Many days will be super light in content, perhaps even just inspiring photos from around my house and neighborhood. I had considered turning my blog into a sort of “Morning Pages”, but then realized that no one needs to be tortured by that sort of running inner commentary. There will be some bigger posts thrown in here and there, and I will also likely have a post coming up on the APQS site soon. Hopefully this sitting down to write every day will also spark first drafts for the future I can come back to, and hone and sharpen.

Today, I have set up a nest in my bedroom with my big monitor, bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth mouse (and laptop borrowed from hubby since I blew out the one cord that could hook MY laptop up to my monitor, don’t ask, I’m technologically dumb.) Yesterday brought a “snowstorm” (a disappointing amount of snow fell), but I have a beautiful few to either side of me of freshly fallen snow. Snow and freezing drizzle predicted all day today, so it’s a good day to wrap myself up into a lap quilt and soldier through some writing!

If you want to join this challenge, head over to Cheryl’s and sign up your blog! If you use social media, use the hashtag #31dayblogchallenge.

And Now For Something Completely Different!

Greetings! Many of you might be joining Indie Quilter as crossovers from The Fiber Nation blog. For my readers from there, know that I am BACK! I had several family and self medical emergencies since April of 2014, but I am happy to be moving past all that and back into sewing, quilting and creating again.unnamed

I spent several months stewing over this change, or “rebranding”. I began to realize over time that I am much more comfortable with a personal blog, rather than the industry blog that The Fiber Nation was intended to be. (I won’t be taking it down for now, as there are several articles on there that still get a lot of views each day.)

I’m Stephanie Forsyth, aka IndieQuilter. I am a quilt designer, quilter, artist, and surface pattern designer, and future fabric designer!

I started blogging becauseunnamed-2 I LOVE all aspects of quilting, and I find a lot of pleasure in sharing what I’m working on, as well as hints & tips that can help fellow quilters.

So what will you find here at IndieQuilter? You will see posts about projects I’m currently working on, quilt relevant articles, free projects, DIY instructions, and give aways! I will keep you up to date on magazines you can find my quilt design patterns in, pieces about other quilters and designers are being planned out as well. I can’t wait to again share my love and excitement about quilting and surface pattern design.

unnamed-1I would also love you, yes YOU to be involved in IndieQuilter. I encourage comments here on the blog. I can also be reached at I’d love to know your thoughts on posts here and suggestions for future topics and posts.

I look forward to bringing you information and inspiration here at IndieQuilter!