Fiber arts is one of those creative mediums that are grossly under appreciated and get a bum rap. They are the ugly stepchild of the arts. For years I taught the techniques of quilting, but I encouraged each of the students to find their own voice in their fabric and color selection. I purposefully chose fabrics that they could not duplicate in so they could experience the challenges of color and texture as they selected their own fabrics. It was a learning experience for not only my students, but for me as I watched what they selected turn into amazing quilts, using blends of fabrics I would not have choose. It taught me so much about learning to appreciate that which I would not have choose for myself.
After years of making and teaching traditional quilt making I started off making quilts of a non-traditional nature. I made quilts that captured things I saw and managed to put them into fabric. I stretched the boundaries using threads, dyes, paints, and every kind of embellishment I could find to share the picture in my head and the emotions it evoked. It was a time when my skill with the sewing machine really grew and I came to appreciate other fiber arts beyond quilting.
If quilting is a coolly accepted fiber art, then the art of making clothing is already out at the curb with the trash. Yet that is one of the hardest fiber arts of all. You need to understand the drape of fabric based on its content. Silk vs. cotton vs. wool, it is like comparing watercolors, oils and pastels they are so different in how they react once placed on the paper or canvas. While we are talking papers and canvas clothing goes on the body and their are zillions of bodies and each needs not only the right fabric but the right pattern and fit. I used to make clothing and I understood fabric and color and how it worked on my body, but unfortunately my body was never just one pattern or one fit. Making a pattern work is like being a sculpture. You now where you need to add more and when you need less. Making clothing that fits well is an art of its own as well.
Maybe fiber arts is one of the least appreciated because it is one of the hardest art forms to master and so many of us have no idea how many elements go into because we have never had the opportunity to see a master at work. So few participate in this art any more and the resources and masters to teach us are all going away.