Tag Archives: Ohio Reformatory for Women

Allow Your Heart To Lead You

The other day I posted some tips for “newer” quilters, and many of you chimed in with more in comments. Since then I stumbled upon something I read a few years ago. It is a 2009 interview with a newer quilter, someone with little experience in the art. She also provides a few tips, from her own perspective. I’ll start by sharing this question and answer from the interview [edited to note that the quotes below are from a longer version of the interview that no longer has links]:

KM (interviewer Karen Musgrave): What advice would you offer somebody making their first quilt?

JM (quilter Joy Major): Jump in. I would suggest [laughs.] that they allow their heart to lead them. They can search through all the quilt books, quilt magazines that they want, but quality inspiration of their heart, I think there is something to be said for traditional, the Amish type of quilt, and I think there is something to be said about expressing life through quilts. [Bold emphasis added by me.]

I’ve never seen better advice on quilting or any art than this:

Allow your heart to lead you.

At the time of the interview, Joy Major, the quilter, had made only one quilt. Even so, she understood what makes a great quilt:

KM: What do you think makes a great quilt? In your mind, what makes a great quilt?

JM: Love. The energy, the thought. The care, the care in making it. When I had my pieces of material, I treasured each one of them. A small piece, that piece right there. Love, that’s what makes a special quilt. The meaning of the quilt. The purpose of the quilt. The energy that it carries with it, the response that I had, the response that perhaps other people had, your response. I think that is the most important part. Certainly love. [Bold emphasis added by me.]

At the time of the interview, Joy Major was an inmate of the Ohio Reformatory for Women, serving a minimum of 25 years for the murder of her husband. She was invited by her prison chaplain and encouraged by her therapist to work with a quilting project called Sacred Threads.

Participants in the quilting project had limited access to resources of all kinds. Time, fabric, and notions were in short supply. As you know, constraints often lead us to our most creative work, and that was true for Ms. Major. What she did not lack was the desire to honor her own story and that of fellow inmates with her work and with her heart. She allowed her heart to lead, and created a fascinating quilt unique to her.

I encourage you to read the here.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear in comments.