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Doing It With Both Lightness and Seriousness

Three Quilts  

“Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness.”

-       Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic”


There's No Magic in Perfection


I love this quote. I love this book. I have no doubt that there’s something deeply resonant that I could quote from nearly every single page of it. I’m not done with the book yet – I’m only about two-thirds of the way through – but this is the quote that’s really sticking with me right now.

Lately I’ve been so engrossed in my Surrogacy by Design site with the release of my book. It’s been a fun (and super challenging!) process to start up a new site and basically an entirely new business. It’s not that I was itching to start up something new – nothing could be further from the truth; I just didn’t feel that I could reach the audience that I wanted to – people seeking information on what it’s like to go through surrogacy – if I posted that kind of stuff on this site here. And besides, I really don’t think anyone who regularly reads my posts here would be terribly interested in nuts-and-bolts surrogacy information.

I felt like my purposes were very different and didn’t really intersect in a way that would be helpful to either brand, so I started up Surrogacy by Design.

But on the other hand, the complete disconnection between my Fuller by Design self and my Surrogacy by Design self really bothered me too. They’re both important parts of who I am, and although the separation feels right in a business sense, it’s doesn’t feel quite right in a personal sense.

And then I had an idea.

I remembered that during my own surrogacies, I often made gifts for the couples I carried for, and they often surprised me with meaningful gifts. What if I could put my creative and artistic skills to good use and make things that surrogates or intended parents might like to buy for one another?

And thus, the “Positive Vibes” series of art quilts was born.


Positive Vibes


I originally pulled out a bunch of solid fabrics to make these quilts, planning to use four different colors for the background squares and a fifth color for the plus sign in the middle. But I don’t have a huge stash of solids, so I wanted to first make a test quilt with fabrics I really didn’t care too much about - a prototype.

So I without too much thought, I grabbed four coordinating low-volume background fabrics and a colored print I never much liked (this was a throw-away test, after all) and tried out my idea, process, and pattern. And it worked – I was off and running.


Cream Quilt

Cream Close


I was happy with it and although I’d originally envisioned the series in all solid fabrics, I was also drawn to the prints. I liked how the fabric designs themselves were interesting and thought people might enjoy them (and goodness knows I have enough printed fabric to work with). Although I want the little art quilts to be meaningful in a surrogacy/fertility kind of way (i.e., referring to a positive pregnancy test, but definitely not limited to that interpretation), I also just wanted them to be something beautiful or intriguing to look at.


Print Quilt


Print Close


So I grabbed another set of fabrics and whipped up a second quilt. I really love the prints in this one, and I love how the “positive sign” message is more subtle.

And for the third one, I finally decided to execute on my original vision – using all solids. I used shot cotton for it because I love the way the various thread colors give the fabric a richness and sheen. I adjusted the center plus portion a bit on this one, making it a little wider than on the print versions of the quilts.


Solid Quilt


Solid Close


And I really, really like the way it came out – I love the colors and the subtlety to it. I thought this color palette and design might appeal to more to men. In fact this whole project was inspired by an art quilt I made for the gay male couple I carried for. So by this point I was thinking so far so good – the results of my design and sewing were matching up with the vision in my head (and you know that doesn’t happen very often…).

Once I had all three of the little quilts finished, I showed them to my family and asked which one each of them liked best.

And of course their unanimous favorite was my “throw away” prototype. The one I gave no thought to, the one I grabbed a few sort-of coordinating fabrics without overthinking anything, and sewed up just for the sake of trying it out.

Really people, the one you like best is the one I put the least of myself into? The one I took the most lightly?

Yep, apparently so, since they’re all lukewarm on the two I gave a lot of consideration to and took more seriously. Hmmmmm. I’m not going to lie, those finding leave me feeling not-so-hot.

Which isn’t to say that my family’s opinions are right or wrong, because there is no right or wrong of course. The proof will be in what sells, I suppose.

But the whole episode brought me squarely back to that quote from Big Magic:

“Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness.”

Seems like lightness wins this time around.

Maybe every time around?

Perhaps I need to take a lesson from Elizabeth Gilbert more often!

So now I'm curious to know, which one do you like the best?



Motherhood by Design: Addie Martindale

Motherhood by Design: Carrie Bloomston