Gender Kisses: Kiss and Tell

(Note: Take the poll at the end of post.)

Back in January, there was a bit of an emotional storm that blew through the quilting world regarding gender, gender bias, privilege and how it all relates to quilting. I don’t think I need to rehash the entire debate, but you’re welcome to read my original (and heated) counter-argument. A lot has changed since then: for one, things aren’t so hot around here! Stephanie (IndieQuilter) and I have had a few drinks, lots of discussion, and found solace through the quilt-making process. Which really, that’s the ultimate goal, it just took us a few merry go-rounds to get there. We both stand by a lot of what we said, but we also understand why we each said what we did. Also, the commentary so many of you provided opened my own eyes to varying view points and a deeper discussion of everyone’s sentiments. So thank you.

gender_kisses_logo_01It’s now time for you to kiss and tell, that is if you can tell at all! You should know by now that kisses are always welcome! Instead of arguing over contentious points of difference, Stephanie had the grand idea to make quilts. We decided to both make a quilt, with the same set of basic parameters, and then let you vote on which was made by a man or woman. Stephanie and I have not shared our design or quilt progress through social media, or with each other until NOW! We are hoping to explore the concept of how gender may or may not affect the aesthetics of a quilt. As individuals (regardless of gender) we both have our innate aesthetic, which means you might pick the creator straight away. Or you might not. At the very least, Stephanie and I both believe that this will be an interesting challenge for ourselves, but it might also further challenge conventions held about men and women quilters. In the end, our greatest message is to be the change you wish to see in the world!

The rules:

  • 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″ x 40″
  • Solid fabrics only

Let the world know what you think! Take the poll below, and I’ll publicise the results next week!






Which statement is true:

  • Quilt A was made by a woman, and Quilt B was made by a man. (64%, 292 Votes)
  • Quilt A was made by a man, and Quilt B was made by a woman. (36%, 161 Votes)

Total Voters: 453

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45 Responses

  1. Susan k says:

    Truthfully it makes no difference who made either quilt. I like them both. I personally am tired of everything having to be a battle. I’m going to sleep then wake up and finish a quilt for my sister tomorrow.

  2. Jeanette says:

    I only chose quilt A as being quilted by a man because i know you like to use bold colors…I’m not familiar with Stephanie’s work

  3. Ali T says:

    Quite new here and zapped over to have a look at Indie Quilter and I’m voting Quilt A for Indie Quilter and Quilt B for Molli Sparkles purely as a quick look at both work and quilt A seems to strongly suggest to me that it is Stephanie’s work. 30 mins alone in quilt room.. Why am I wasting time.. 25..

  4. Simone S says:

    I honestly think that you can’t tell between these which was made by a man and which was made by a woman. My choice in the poll came down to which aesthetic I think fitted best with the individual quilter – and isnt that what quilting is all about? I come from a fmaily with a long tradition of quilting and other handcrafts – my mother and her sisters share a similar aesthetic, which while I appreciate, it doesnt fit with my individual aesthetic and the pieces that I like to create. And in return, while my style isnt my mother’s style – she appreciates and understands the work that goes into the peices I create and would and does happliy brag about them to her friends. BTW I think that you made quilt B and Stephanie made quilt A – either way they are both great!

  5. Dorothy says:

    Really, in 2016 we’re having this discussion? Who really cares who made what? Somewhere underneath it all, we’re all the same. I am 73 and I have felt this way my entire life. Man, woman, someone in between—we are all the same, we are all artists, — we just wear different clothes
    🙂 🙂

    • Jim C says:

      Yup – we really need a like button here. I like what you’re saying Dorothy. OK everyone, now let’s get back into the sandbox and play nice.

  6. Jo says:

    I agree that it doesn’t matter who made which quilt. I dose Mollie for quilt b… I like the non symmetrical pattern and more quilting but I don’t know anything about Stephanie.. Well done to both of you

  7. Hayley says:

    Not to be an annoying mathsy nerd burger but I dont think the question as framed will really tell you anything other than “I think this quilt was made by Molli Sparkles (and everything that being you entails)”. Unless you’ve tried to be tricky and do the opposite of what you would ordinarily make. A real test would be the same parameters but quilts made without telling us who made them (ie not you and Stephanie) and then test the results. Anyway it’s all a bit of fun and it never hurts to get people thinking about their biases – we all have them. Both quilts are lovely, in their own way regardless of who made them

  8. Paul Perger says:

    I like the look of A better. I won’t guess at, nor do I care what’s inside the underpants of it’s creator.

  9. Amelia Verne says:

    I recognized your aesthetic in quilt B Molli, but would have voted the other way otherwise. Keep quilting!

  10. Jodie says:

    I don’t think you can tell which was made by man or woman. Quilt B is a more cutesy baby quilt, which I didn’t think was your style, so I voted yours was A.
    Kisses x

  11. Trude Jackson says:

    What I appreciate most is this open dialogue…Isn’t it wonderful to have an open forum where we can have conversation…And people can discuss…no matter what year it is? Both quilts are amazing…and isn’t that why all of us love to quilt! A way to express ourselves! Thank you, Molli…for always making the conversation real… You truly are a beacon…

  12. Tish says:

    I love this! I love this! I love this! I’m almost afraid to vote, but of course I did. My husband likes to get involved in my quilting adventures (i’m still trying to convert him to a full blown quilter). He likes to design blocks and will sometimes help me pick out fabrics. It’s always funny to me when someone comments on something I’ve constructed but he’s actually designed or pulled the fabrics. They just assume the work is 100% me. They seem to be even more supersized that a guy chose the colors, especially if they love it and I say I hate it 🙂 Okay hates a strong word…how bout he chose a color palette much different from mine.

    • Trude Jackson says:

      My husband is the same way…he LOVES fabric shopping…and always encourages me to try new patterns…and truly challenges me outside of my comfort zone…Plus HE LOVES THE ATTENTION he gets at quilting stores…He’s in 7th heaven! My husband, as a woodworker, loves the similarities he sees between his hobby and mine.

    • You should get him into our Men Who Quilt Facebook group!

  13. Jayne says:

    I’m so happy to see the results of the ‘kisses’ feud! Not that it was feud at all…I will vote, but like everyone else…it doesn’t matter one little bit who made what. You can say the pastel was made by a feminine female, or a male who isn’t afraid to tap into their feminine side. I love how both are so different, but equally wonderful. Love the first ones colors, but totally dig the fresh softness of the second one. So I’ll vote just for the fun of it!

    • Exactly! I do believe that gender can (not always) inform an art process, but so can growing up in a rural area, or being raised by grandparents, or being gay, or being vegetarian. All of the things that make an individual. It doesn’t matter, but it still potentially exists.

  14. Both wonderful quilts! Can’t wait to see what everyone thought and what the real answer is.

  15. Paula says:

    Both quilts are beautiful and as far as I am concerned they simply represent two pieces made by talented quilters. I did vote but purely as an indication of whom I think made each quilt – being familiar with both your work I based my decision completely on that so in reality my vote has nothing whatsoever to do with gender and everything to do with my limited knowledge of the artists.

  16. Brenda says:

    I vote you for A, primarily because of the straight line quilting. If you had to do the quilting yourself as part of the challenge, I don’t think you are skilled enough yet for the quilting on B.

  17. Summer says:

    I don’t much care who created what. The poll could be “which was made by an Earthling and which by a Martian?” or “which by someone from the wrong side of the tracks and which by someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth?” Arbitrary. I like Quilt A best because of the offset and the bold colors. Quilt B is just not my colors – too shabby chic, baby quilt for me – but I do appreciate the symbolism of the mixing of the pink and blue blocks. I can see you using either color set, Molli, since I’ve seen much variation from you just in the short time (a year?) I’ve been following your blog, and my guess is that the pink and blue is yours (especially because of the implied symbolism), though I’m still not voting. If Van Gogh was not a man but a cross-dressing woman or Charlotte Bronte was actually Charles Bronte, well, I’d still like the resulting work.

    • Thank you for the compliments to both quilts. My point of this exercise was never to say that one was better than another, or that one’s experiences/background are better than another. Instead, that these things can inform an art practice, or in this case a quilt practice. I do believe that if Van Gogh was a cross dressing woman, (one can only hope! haha) that his art output would have / could have been different. Not worse, not better, just different.

  18. Jennie Wallick says:

    I get so tired of men verses women. We are all human! Quilts and quilting is, like any other art media, neither male nor female. This is art which can’t be judged by the maker but only on the art itself. If I’m making a quilt for a man I’ll chose his favorite colors, a woman her favorite colors. Art for art’s sake is ridiculous if it’s not asthetically pleasing to anyone.

    • IndieQuilter says:

      An, but there is a difference in making a bed quilt for a gift, and making an art quilt out of a drive to express an artistic goal. It’s a personal preference to say that art for arts sake is ridiculous if not “aesthetically pleasing”, but in reality there is plenty of art that is not aesthetically please to all or even any people.

      Also, our project is not approached as a “man versus woman” theology, but rather “man or woman”.

    • Jim C says:

      Jennie – so so true! I enjoyed hearing your thoughts. I am a man and I love to quilt. I enjoy rich deep tones, I frequently use pastels, batiks, 30s, civil war, I like all colors and all fabrics. I have a huge collection of Kaffe (flowers – yes I love flowers!). So, to look at my work it’s hard to identify the gender of the maker – as it should be.

  19. Brenda Iwami says:

    I could see myself making each of these quilts depending on my mood and who they were made for. Wrapping yourself in a quilt made just for you is a wonderful feeling…a sure embrace from the maker and holds no gender. Love them both!

  20. Kristy says:

    I like that quilt B looks like floating x blocks. I think that is better use of the block construction. Quilt A looks like + blocks on point because of the fabric choices (grey and black). That quilt could have been made alternating +blocks and solid blocks on point, perhaps an easier construction for the same effect.

  21. Kiri says:

    Why does it matter ?

  22. liz n. says:

    How could I determine who made which, and why would it matter?

  23. Marianne says:

    I don’t think the discussion was ever about being about to tell a “male” quilt from a “female” quilt. That’s dumb. For me the problem was that here’s a historically female endeavor that men have suddenly “discovered” and that they are going to change and of course monetize the wazoo out of. I’ve been making quilts for over 25 years and I always liked the gender exclusivity of this hobby. ::Sigh:: that being said, I don’t think we’re going to see this sudden rush of men into quilting. I suspect it will stay at less than 5% of the total. Can we move on now?

    • Frank Palmer says:

      Men haven’t “suddenly discovered” quilting. I’ve done it for 30 years, and I know of men who were doing it in the 1930s. If your value in the hobby is gender exclusivity, you are limiting your world, and stifling your creativity. I wouldn’t know what I know (or be where I am today) without the advice and guidance of both men AND women in the industry. That “gender exclusivity” you prize so highly, previously inhibited the opportunities available to me, and forced to me take the long road to get here. There are those of us who will gladly impart knowledge, advice, and be WELCOMING to ALL PEOPLE who want to enjoy what we enjoy. And then there are gatekeepers, who think THEY get to choose who participates. I think it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. It matters if you’re a greeter or a gatekeeper. Choose wisely.

    • liz n. says:

      Gender exclusivity? Really?


      Perhaps we women should bow out of all activities and pursuits that were once exclusive to men?

  24. Trude Jackson says:

    I had to smile at the comment:

    “that they are going to change and of course monetize the wazoo out of”…

    I’ve been in so many female owned and run quilt shops…that were OUTRAGEOUSLY OVERPRICED… I don’t think that is a male exclusive trait (smile)…

    • Jim C says:

      Trude – You made ME smile. I’m a guy and in the 21 years that I’ve been quilting I don’t even want to know how many thousands of dollars that I’ve spent in woman owned quilt businesses. Yet, I’ve never made a dime “monetizing” my hobby.

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