The dumbing down of quilting, part 3 (final!)

This is the last post with this title, I promise!

A lot of people happened by this blog today, thanks to a post by Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. What prompted it has been resolved by a couple of classy ladies. Interestingly, their opinions are really much more alike than they are different.

Although the response to my dumbing down posts has been very supportive for the most part, I’ve had a few comments along the lines of “if you don’t like something, stop reading. People have the right to make whatever they want, and you should stop being the quilt police.”

That has never been my intention! I don’t want to tell people not to make quilts – I want them to receive the support they need to expand their skills and grow. I’ve experienced the quilt police. I attended a guild meeting – just one – and I was politely discouraged from speaking, thinking, participating. It was “us against them,” and I was most definitely not part of “us.” I don’t want to make people feel that way with my blog, but neither do I feel I should keep my mouth shut and smile and nod and, with my silence, imply that everything is just fine the way it is.

So, time to put my money where my mouth is.

Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts and I have discussed the idea of a Skill Builder series of blog posts. She and I are going to “tag-team” it, writing about the sort of things that less experienced quilters may find useful. We’d love your input, so please ask questions and make suggestions. You can find links to all of our posts on this page.

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49 thoughts on “The dumbing down of quilting, part 3 (final!)

  1. Looking forward to progressing my skills via the blog. Although a simple quilter, I look forward to learning new skills in an environment with little criticism

  2. I think I was at that guild meeting… I was also definitely not one of them. 🙂

    I think a series of posts designed to be skill-builders is a great idea! Kudos to you and Jeanne for thinking of it and for doing it.

    With the demise of so many brick-and-mortar quilt shops, there are fewer places where quilters can go to learn, to be inspired and to be motivated. You will be helping to fill that gap by providing information, and in the end, knowledge really is power because the more you know, the more you try. The more you try, the more confidence you gain. The more confidence you have… that’s when you can really break free and follow your own “artistic voice”.

    At least that’s what I’ve read. 🙂

  3. I would love to see something on making accurate quarter square triangles. Even though I’ve tried making them larger and trimming them down, I can’t get consistently accurate blocks.

    I thought your posts on the dumbing down of quilting were really interesting and I’m glad you had the courage to comment on it.

  4. I love the idea of skill builders! Thank you!

    One topic might also be pressing…..we receive quite a number of quilts pieced by others in the Guild, and have been stunned by the poor pressing. When I took my first quilting class, the teacher emphasized pressing, and I guess I thought everyone did that, but apparently not. Therefore, I really think a session on pressing would be valuable. Thanks!

  5. As someone who recently took a big step towards learning new techniques (and both failed and succeeded and was proud of both) I appreciate your sentiments. And I especially appreciate that you have an encouraging tone. I’ve been sewing most of my life but quilting for only a year but I’ve loved learning new things. In fact, the thing I love most is that there’s something new to learn whenever I want to. At the same time in the midst of challenging projects sometimes I just want to make a coin quilt so I can say “There! I finished something!” Anyway, I’m babbling now so I’ll finish by saying that I’m absolutely going to follow your skill-builders and I think I’m in on that DWR quilt-along as well. Thanks!

  6. Holy Moly – I came into this whole thing after the fact. I didn’t see one of the original blogs, but did read Ms. Carrie’s response. I ended up here and was shocked. I read your original “dumming down” post, but my boss wanted me to do some work (imagine!) so I didn’t get a chance to respond. I didn’t see anything extraordinary about it – some well-thought out notions, many of which I agreed with (guess that’s why it didn’t set off any bells). But seriously, that started this? Good grief. I’d love to see skill-building posts. As I commented on another blog, I suck at putting colors together and I can’t machine piece (I’m a hand-piecer). I’d love to learn new techniques. Hope it happens.

  7. Well, I spiraled into opinion land on my own blog after being directed to you from Carrie, and a secondary & spirited discussion has ensued. One of things I’ve figured out is that people learn in about a billion different ways, so maybe the $100 I spent on classes are Joanns are being spent on simple quilt patterns and books by someone else for their learning.

  8. Great idea you and Jeanne have for the skill building posts. I also love that some stores are now offering classes that teach techniques instead of a quilt pattern. Not sure where I have been, but what exactly is “dumbing down on quilting?” I thought I had heard it all, until this term reared it’s little head and now I am just confused by the terminology. Maybe I lead a sheltered life!!! If it was mean spirited or ugly, I am glad I missed it, but it sure has taken on a life of it’s own. Thanks from Judy C at http://www.shadetreequilting.com

  9. I have read all three posts, and I guess the problem here is the title.

    ‘Dumbing down’ makes those of us who seek to make ‘those’ kind of quilts feel less. Less of everything.
    Less of a quilter.
    Less imaginative.
    Less artistic.

    It’s a bit ‘high horsey’ and belittling to suggest that anyone who hasn’t tried a triangle in their life is simplistic in their quiting.

    Perhaps some of us haven’t because we think quilts with triangles are ugly? don’t want to make one? don’t want to give one to our friends.

    I have limited time, and energy. I have 3 very young children, a crappy sewing machine and big bags under my eyes. I CHOSE to make quilts like this for sanity. To succeed at something, to enjoy feeling like I am good at SOMETHING after a terrible day in the home, or office.

    I don’t care about triangles, applique, or matching colours. I want ease.

    Perhaps that makes me a dumb quilter.

    Perhaps that makes me less than those of you who chose to ‘better yourself’ in this particular field?

    Maybe. But I don’t care.

    I like wonky blocks.

    Healthy debate on this is great, but perhaps re-considering the title and the ‘looking down one’s nose’ aspect would make for more constructive debate.

  10. saskia
    I don’t think the articles here were in any way “looking down one’s nose” OR “high horsey” in attitude
    As a quilter & quilting teacher, I’ve taught many new quilters of ALL ages
    how to begin and enjoy quilting. I’ve taught others how to improve and advance in their quilting.
    I understand that younger women like yourself are busy with children & work etc and look for quick patterns and projects. (I was too, 20 yrs ago) I think that’s great. My 23 yr old DD is having a blast getting back to sewing & quilting for her new apt.
    Nothing feels better than a quilt top completed – except a QUILT completed!! Just don’t let yourself stop with that one pattern or style, try more and see what you can do. There’s a lot to learn and try ahead! Have Fun!!

  11. One point I would make is that many of those individuals who make these simple, modern, improv quilts almost ALWAYS quilt their own work… I believe in mutual support and cheering others for what you accomplished. If you are going to be so vocal to make a point which comes across rather critical, what about those that can piece a double wedding ring quilt but can’t or won’t even try to FMQ? Quite personally, I think pretty highly of someone so motivated to learn that they pick it up just by seeing or reading something on a blog and follow thru and complete a project. So kudos in my book to someone who wants to quilt and does it no matter how they do it.

  12. I read all three of your posts and have to admit to being annoyed. I sew (and type this) with two small children at my feet, in my lap, and hollering Mommy. I do it because I love it, and I love doing something that stays done. I have done some HST’s and some applique, but the pinwheel quilt I did to take to the hospital last year when my son was born is my favorite. I don’t think that’s dumb.

    Someday I’ll go to a class, or a quilt retreat, and maybe someday I’ll have the time to shop for fabric without a grouchy sales lady rolling her eyes at my toddler. But now I’m busy with more important things, and I love the simple quilts and the pretty pictures.

    And, frankly, I don’t think that’s dumb either.

  13. Well this is a hot topic isn’t it? It’s funny how personally people take this. As a blogger (that I hope you weren’t referring to but its ok if you were) I agree with some of it…and disagree with some also. Yes I am sick of log cabins…yes I’m sick of improv…yes I’m a little sick of “wonky”….but those are trends, and popular trends.

    Yes it is probably fair to blame bloggers for putting simple stuff out there over and over…but in the same sentence you might as well give bloggers a big fat pat on the back for reviving an industry and getting 20 somethings all over the world back in quilt shops and interested in fabric again. Did I ever think I would be a quilter? Heck no. Grandma’s are quilters. And that is where blogs come in to change that perception.

    Personally I don’t think its anybody’s call. Who really cares? Not me. Because everyone can make what they make…blog about what they want to blog about…simple or not.

    -Allison

  14. Sorry to hear you had a bad guild experience. I’ve loved attending our local modern quilt guild and have learned so much.

    Sure does seem like this is a hot topic! But really, like Alison said above me, “Who really cares?” Blogs are personal, people do post what they want to. If people like it they read it. If lots of people like it lots of people read it. Instead of complaining that all the blogs are dumbing quilting down why not just do a post on what you’d like to see – more challenging blocks and tutorials and the likes.

    And your example of the chicken and peas… well when someone gets bored they do move on. I’m sure that if/when the collective public gets bored with these “dumbed-down quilts” they’ll move on too.

  15. I would love to see a “guide” to what qualifies one as a beginner, intermediate, expert, master quilter etc… I am not being snarky at all…I genuinely hear those terms and never know what I am or what that would mean if I saw it on a pattern. Sorry if this seams random but I have read all of your posts at once and I think that would be great info for new quilters to let them know what is “the next level”.

  16. The thing I bristle at the most here is the assertion that modern quilters aren’t caring to improve their skills. I think the people saying that should spend some time really getting to know some younger/modern/newer quilters and see the work we are doing, the effort we really do put in to improving our skills in quilting. It shouldn’t be necessary to divide quilters into these 2 camps, and wouldn’t it be great if we could respect and appreciate each other for our strengths?

  17. I know that I am a little late “to the party” here but I just read all three of your posts and have also read the comments on each. I am a young, modern quilter who has only been quilting for a few years, but I am also a designer and president of a modern quilt guild so I think I have a bit of a unique perspective on this issue. I prefer quilts with straight lines (usually opting for more rectangular shapes, although I have been a little HST-crazy recently) and pretty fabrics, but I also experiment with hand quilting, paper piecing (both by hand and on machine), and I love mixing traditional blocks patterns and ideas together. There are a number of things that I don’t share on my own blog because I am still experimenting and trying to put my own spin on things.

    I think what I take most issue with in your posts is the “dumbing down” title and tone; I too don’t believe that pinwheels are advanced but for new quilters they most definitely are (geez, I remember when I made my first pinwheel quilt – frustrating) and I think that it is our responsibility as “more advanced” quilters to encourage beginners – not to make them feel dumb or inept because something is challenging for them or they are not at a stage where they want to push their skills a lot. I don’t think that it was your intention to make them feel “dumb” but there has been quite a bit of buzz around the Internet from modern quilters who do feel that that was your intention or who now feel badly because they don’t live up to a certain standard.

    I guess for me too, even though as I’ve said I don’t think it was your intention, I feel prettily badly because it brings back some memories of my first Quilt Market experience last Spring (which I wrote about on my blog too). It was a really wonderful experience in many ways but in others not so much; a number of the “modern set” were told by the “traditional set” that we didn’t belong there, weren’t welcome, weren’t talented, weren’t creative, thought we were better than everyone else, etc. The fact of the matter is that I have never, ever heard a “modern” quilter that I know bash or demean any traditional quilters work or technique (I’m not saying it hasn’t happened though), but I have heard plenty of “traditional” quilters do it to the “modern” ones. Not only is it hurtful and just plain wrong, it also diminishes creativity and divides quilters rather than uniting them.

    Sorry for the long rambly-rant but I just wanted to express that I don’t think you meant to make anyone feel dumb (unfortunately some people did though) and to also say that while some more “traditional” quilters might think we have it easy, we don’t – we get snubbed all of the time both on the Internet and (most especially) in the “real world” so we have to make the most of the relationships we make, skills we learn, and inspiration we see using social media platforms. Many of us are forming guilds so that we can have those relationships locally too, but unfortunately it isn’t easy especially when people are looking down their noses at you.

  18. I agree that the issue is with your title. What you said in your posts isn’t that harsh if you read it without first seeing the title. As it is, I started reading assuming you were saying ‘modern’ quilters have dumbed it down, which to me automatically implies they are inferior. I do realize that’s not what you say within the posts, but that’s how it first seemed to me.

    There are always going to be arguments over shifts in any artistic endeavor from the old versus new. It boils down to differences in style. The problem is when any group tries to claim it has all rights to the title. There’s the commenter in the first post who said only hand piecing and quilting is real quilting, and then the traditional quilters who say modern quilts aren’t real quilting. If it’s made of fabric, batting, and thread, isn’t it essentially a quilt? Beyond that it’s style and preference.

  19. I first heard about this from a blog that I follow, and from how she phrased her comments it seemed as if you were more attacking. Which coming from her, I could see her point. So I came, being causes and skeptical. But after reading your posts (all three…well I had to read each about 2 times so I could get it all in…it’s late tonight) what I personally feel like your trying to say is to challenge yourself. So my challenge could be completely different from the blog 3 doors down, but it’s still a challenge for me so it works.

    I do really like that you have said your peace (I mean it’s your blog, you have the right) taken everyone’s comments and concerns, but instead of leaving it at that, you are taking the steps to actually follow up on it. You feel that many of us new bloggers don’t know the techniques so you are trying to come up with way to teach it. Kuddos for you, complaining but doing something about it instead of just sitting and complaining. (which to clarify, I think everyone complains..now I could be a master at that)

    One thing that I do find entertaining…I don’t consider myself a beginner but find it hard to call myself an intermediate. But according to your definition, I am only a beginner because no matter how hard I try I can never get my half-square triangle perfect. I think have it, do it great almost perfect in one, and then the next looks like a 3 year old did it!

    Thanks for the “inspiring” read tonight 😀 Hope I find something to challenge me instead of just trying to find the time! That wedding ring quilt along looked entertaining, I will have to go check it out!

  20. I have ended up here having googled “dumbing down quilting debate”, so all kudos to you for your 15 minutes of fame.

    I had heard about the infamous ‘quilting police’ but wasn’t so aware of ‘quilting snobs’, but now I am!

    I am new to quilting, I do the simple things you dislike, but as I have 3 small children, work and want a hobby that makes me happy; I want to produce pretty, quick, fun and loved items, not things that belong in a museum.

    It was one of your criticised quilter/photographer/bloggers that got me into this, not a fuddy-duddy, traditional, ‘complex for the sake of it’ expert.

    I have a dear friend working her socks off on a Civil War quilt, in traditional fabrics, and I can appreciate the skill and time these blocks take to perfect, and I am in awe of her talent, but I’d never want to make one, nor particularly own one. They do not represent my taste, life or priorities.

    Give me a simple smock made of the most gorgeous fabric over a handmade designer suit in some frumpy old brown tweed any day – I’ll still be dressed, it might not be to your taste, but frankly I’m glad. Chicken and Rice???

  21. I think it’s great that you’ll be doing a skill building series. I just think it’s interesting that you think it hasn’t been done before in the modern quilting world.

    It’s a big internet out there…with modern pickledish quilt-alongs, traditional Ohio star quilt-alongs hosted by modern quilters, sampler block quilt alongs, flying geese galore! There’s lots of “advanced” stuff out there for modern quilters to dig into if they so desire.

    I’m sorry that one institution’s phrasing set off such craziness. There are a lot of modern quilters out there looking to try and teach the fancy stuff, too. SMS isn’t the final say in modern quilting by any means.

  22. I was shying away from the Double Wedding Ring Quilt Along because it will be hard for me. Now I’m in. Please continue with the Skill Builders series. Many of us beginners are listening.

  23. As a longarmer for the past 11 years, I have seen my share of Turning Twenties. About a year ago I decided never to make another quilt from a pattern. But I had no design sense.

    I decided to take an Art Design class with Lorraine Torrance in Seattle. It has opened my eyes to everything I didn’t know: line, balance, symmetry, color, value, and scale.

    The students are required to make multiple small quilt tops each month to show mastery of each concept. We began with 18 students. We’re down to about 6.

    My point: It takes hard work to move from beginner to intermediate. Mastery of quilting requires extra time and fabric.

    And you must risk something of yourself.

  24. “…stroking the egos of some quilters simply because they make things with pretty fabrics and bright colors (and take awesome photos)”
    Why, oh why is it the responsibility of the “popular quilters” (which are dumbing to others – by your standards) to educate others in complex quilting? Why can’t the “savants” of the business take responsibility and learn to make their blogs popular and take awesome photos to appeal to the quilting community and new quilting generations?

    I’m so sick of seeing beautiful patterns in the most yucky fabric that looks like it’s been handed down for generations…

  25. Well I am not as all a fluff as I thought I would be based upon the titel of your posts.

    For many I think “Dumbing Down” is a negative phrase (myself included) & that is the reason behind the “controversy.”

    I know what I like (NYB)& I know what I like to do (simple squares with an occasional stitch & flip triangle) & I am 100% o.k. with that. (I am even working on a “series” in that style. Maybe once I have expressed it fully – for myself, then I will want to try something new – like a wonky log cabin!)

  26. I’ve read all three posts and take umbrage with much you have said. If you take a historical look at quilting much of what you would consider to be dumb are important works in US history. For example do you consider the simple and technically imperfect quilts of Gees Bend to be dumb…major art institutions would not.
    You seem to be looking at quilts purely from a technically point of view but what about shifting your perspective slightly and looking at them from an artistic point of view. I really believe the current quilting renaissance should be something to be celebrated rather than dismissed. Quilting plays an important historical role in the US we should encourage younger quilters to keep the practice alive in a way that is relevant for their generation.

    Technique should always be in the service of content.

    My final point is to say that blog readers are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about who they choose to read and support without being hectored to try harder. There are many quilting sites and blogs offering advice and tutorials on how to create challenging and intricate quilts, yet these sites seem so much less popular with younger quilters.

    As someone who has a deep love of quilting I am sure that really you would support people finding happiness and a creative outlet through quilting irrespective of their abilities.

  27. What gets aggravating is going into my LQS for some advice or help and getting sneered at because I’m doing the ‘simple’ blocks. Yes, I’m doing ‘simple’ blocks because I like them. I like the more modern look. I don’t care to take the classes at my LQS to learn ‘harder techniques’ because the blocks and quilts they are making are ugly TO ME. But I don’t criticize their quilts because I respect their taste … just wish they respected mine. Harder does not equal better … just different.

  28. To me, all 3 of these posts just smack of jealousy. Straight-up jealously. I don’t buy for one minute that when you started the first post, you were on some kind of mission to bring education to the poor, uneducated quilters out there. No, you were in a snarky mood and you wanted to make fun of others so that you could feel better about yourself and the mood you were in. Plain and simple.

    So, you blogged about it. Isn’t that the beauty of a blog? We can vent our frustrations or our inspirations. People can like it or lump it. Feels really lumpy to me.

  29. Just wanted to address the so0-called “art” of the “Gees Bend Quilts” … I’ve seen these quilts up close and personal, studied them … with their artificially-attached concept of “quilt art” that’s been attributed by these quilt-art “experts”. In truth these quilts are some of the most unattractive, ugly and poorly-pieced utility “quilts” I’ve ever seen. Crooked, wonky, misshapen, strips hanging off ends.
    We sat through a RIDICULOUS presentation of these quilts at our Guild a few years ago, while the presenter/art expert went on and on and on AD NAUSEUM regarding their “originality”, “inventiveness”, “uniqueness” and “meanings” of the quilts.
    It was truly hilarious. 400 Guild members & quilters were struggling mightily not to burst into gales of laughter or fall off our chairs.
    In truth, these quilts were pieced out of any strip of rough material these women had – they were not “designed” and they were not “unique”. These women just sewed strip after strip together to make quilts they needed to USE. The stitching and quilting was terrible in most, but who cared – they were just quilts to keep their families warm.
    Art ?? No, there was no thought of “art”. A rough utility quilt to keep their poor families warm in the cold of winter, that’s ALL they were. No different from all the rough, ugly, heavy wool quilts made by women on the prairies in sod houses, just struggling to stay warm and survive the winter.
    I only hope that all the monies made from these “art” quilts being exhibited, the book, the kits to “reproduce” them have benefitted the makers and descendants of Gee’s Bend … as much as those who’ve clamored to “promote” them.

  30. Cannot wait to see your posts to help me advance my techniques. I just learned how to do machine applique in January and designed my very first quilt. The quilt itself is simple, but the applique was not. I really want to learn how to do flying geese and learn how to work with triangles aside from have square triangles. Triangles intimidate me because the second quilt I ever made 10 years ago had triangles along the side and the dang thing would not lay flat! My mom (a very experienced quilter) had to help me rip the whole thing apart and re-sew it. I haven’t attempted triangles again after that fiasco!

    Can’t wait for the series!

  31. I had heard about your post, but hadn’t read it all. Now that I have, I can see just what you meant, and I know it was not malicious or caused by jealousy. Sometimes, people see what they want to see. I consider myself an intermediate quilter, a non-blogger, not an artist, not a designer. But I do try to challenge myself. Thank you for the courage and conviction to say what you did.

  32. I do agree a pinwheel is a beginners block unless you’ve never done one ~ the first time I made pinwheels I couldn’t get the seams right (I was a beginner at it seemed like I was working on a complex block at the time) now I can do a pinwheel with ease – so am I still a beginner? Does it really matter? I tackled curved piecing right after squares! Why? Because I didn’t know it was an advanced technique. I like not knowing my limits.

    In my opinion the entire series of “dumbing down” created a controversial environment rather then a supportive one. I understand your goal was ‘healthy discussion’ but I have to wonder if it did more harm then good? My experience with modern quilting has been liberating – I can create quilts that are quite complex and quilts that are simple and easy and enjoy the process and the challenge with all of them. I find modern “simple” quilters very supportive, non-judgmental and fun. I am always learning new techniques and processes with each quilt I make ~ even if I make the same quilt over and over because I love the pattern … I just get better and better at it 😉 I like to make complex and simple at the same time; the complex is my “major” project which does require focus and concentration – my simple projects are ones I can do after work and on those days I simply want to create without thinking too much – quilting therapy days. Too much judgment and rules imposed on the quilting community (especially the younger modern quilters) just might discourage them from quilting at all.

  33. Thank you for putting into words what I have been thinking for a long time. One thing you didn’t talk about is fabric lines. Seems like so many modern quilters can only use fabric from the same fabric line and worship the designers. They don’t seem to know how to, or are too intimidated, put their own selections together. To each his own!

  34. Oh, and what about quilters making and selling patterns of the simplest of patterns. Seems like you shouldn’t need a patttern for half of these!

  35. I’ve found these posts interesting. I agree with most of what you have said.But I’d like to point out a sad but true fact and that is that many of the “Blog Leaders”you speak of do the same simple quilts over and over again and enthuse about this fabric line and that and then make the same 3” square quilt because that’s what their readers like and wasn’t it Barnum who said “nobody ever went broke underestimating public taste?”.

    Those of us who like a challenge,like something different, admit our mistakes etc will never have the popularity of the other blogs but does that matter? Our readers are happy and so are theirs. There’s enough room in the blogosphere for us all and eventually some of their readers will get bored and move on. That’s what happened to me when I first started quilting.

  36. Wow…stumbled onto this controversy somewhat accidentally. All I can say is…”if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Everyone, keep quilting the way you like to quilt. Period.

  37. A few thoughts from a beginner quilter:
    1, the fact you found it necessary to post no less than 3 ranting blogs in defence of your opinions suggests you have a bit of a guilty conscience.
    2,I find that as a beginner, your opinions and your ranting are very off-putting. I sew what I like to sew. And yes, my methods are simple, but So What! We certainly don’t need you preaching to us about what is ‘acceptable’. Those blogs are so successful because they hit the right note with the new generation of sewers out there. Testament to this would be that until I my favourite bloggers (who you seem to despise) started making rebuttals to your rants, I’d never even seen your blog, while I visit their blogs every day.
    Back off lady, and let us all enjoy our own individual style of quilting. Stop perpetuating this small-minded visciousness.

  38. I am glad I read through the whole post. I think I would definitely get bored with quilting if I only tried one block or design over and over again. The only way that we get better is by challenging ourselves to move outside of our comfort zone. I am just happy to be creating. I am a person that wants to do it all and doesn’t know where to start so I was not do anything which put me in a depressed state. Thank goodness I ran into a friend who inspires me. She is 89 years old and although she has been having some issues with here health she refuses to stop making quilts. It hit me that if I just do one thing at a time I will eventually get where I want to go. I know that sounds kind of dumb, but at least I am moving forward and not stuck in a rut. I am sure I will never make all the quilts that I would like to, but I am going to try my best. The ones that aren’t motivated, inspired or challenged are the people that are missing out. I don’t want to be one of those people anymore.
    It is good to be able to say what you want to say and move on….we all need that sometimes. I am thankful for all the blogs and tutorials that I have come across in the past month. The web is an amazing tool for us to use as a resource. Who would have thought 10 or 20 years ago that we would able to find tutorials/videos on how to bind a quilt or that we could be sharing our opinions with others with the same interests all over the world. Quilt on friends, quilt on!!!

  39. I’m guessing, as a newbie, I can not relate to what has everyone so fired up. I see quilt classes offered at LQS, and if I like them, I take them. I am inspired to do so by the finished quilt always on display prior to the class.

    I have done things I never thought I would do that way. My 4th quilt I did myself, paper piecing, invention…. I had to splice some things together to make it work since the “stupid” book did not give finished sizes of each block.

    I don’t want to be “dumbed down” like, “Oh, you can do a 9 block”. “You might be able to handle that!” I see something I like, hope the class will help me, then go home and figure it out.

    I’ve only been doing any kind of sewing for about a year.

    I have ran into the “quilt police” . One friend was picking out the LQS owner’s mistakes!

    For crying outloud!

    I think this is a great thread!

  40. I think a training blog would be a great idea as long as it has plenty of clear directions with pictures for those who learn better by show than tell (I’m including myself in that category). I, too, am a self-taught quilter. Then, after experiencing frustrating difficulties with a triangle-laden bear-paw quilt went to a quilting class. Eureka! The techniques and tips from other quilters were like heaven opening up. I kept going to classes for pretty quilts I liked whether they were easy or not. I learned, I grew, I salivated over quilts in shows. I still like to do simple quilts, especially with scraps. Right now I am working simultaneously on 1. NY Beauty, 2. Dear Jane (black & white) and a hand-applique 12 Days of Christmas quilt.

    So in conclusion, dear readers, keep learning and growing and quilting! And, hopefully, stay tuned for a training blog.

  41. Hi, I have just stumbled on your blog by accident, whilst spending the last hour trawling the internet trying to find where to buy a large compass so that I can create my own Mariners Compass block! I had almost given up and had even asked my husband if I could buy the quilt pro programme, as i figured maybe that’s how everyone did their mariners blocks. Then I saw the price of it and went back to my original plan of learning via a compass! I love trying to push my skills and aim to try a new technique in everything I ever make – a great concept but does mean that I always look at it and see how to do the technique better next time. Anyway, I loved your rant and it was the most real blog I have ever read! I have just discovered making flying geese, they always look fantastic, but are a true pain in the arse to piece together into a long border. However, trying to find someone else out there who has also found that, is nigh on impossible. I sometimes feel that quilters never like to talk about the times they swear at their machines! I now plan to learn mariners compasses, I have bought a compass and a book….so I hope I can join your gang on quilters determined to strive to be better than all those amazing other quilters at the top of the skill! Thank you for your great rant! – regards, Suzy Sparrowe

  42. I realize this is “old news” now, but I just now stumbled across this series of posts and read all three installments. I have to say, I felt some relief that you gave voice to what’s been buzzing in my head lately! It’s not just bloggers who are to blame, though — the whole “Quilt In A Day” thing with books and TV shows touting speed and simplicity above all have been around longer than the blogosphere. I do try to challenge myself to learn something new with each new quilt, and I can’t imagine doing the same quilt pattern over and over again. However, this year I’ve challenged myself to learn and practice my free motion machine quilting skills, so I’m looking at those simple, trendy blog quotes a little differently now. When I spend a year piecing a quilt top that stretches my abilities to the limit and I finally have it ready to quilt, I chicken out on the FMQ because I’m afraid I’ll ruin it. So now I see those simple HST chevron quilts, pinwheels, or whatever, and I think, “I need to whip up some quilts like that, so I can work up the guts to actually quilt them!

    Thanks for having the courage to be controversial and get the discussion going. That’s a rare quality! 🙂

  43. I think the problem with all of these posts is the notion of “dumbing down”. If you view quilting (or sewing or knitting or baking) as an intellectual pursuit, it may seem “dumbed down”. It is important to remember not everyone comes to the craft with the same goals. Some people want an intellectual challenge, others a creative outlet, others just want a project where they will get satisfaction in completing something. Quilts can be works of art or they can be strictly utilitarian. Quilts that survive generations are likely both. Presumably the boring or ugly quilts did not survive the test of time but that did not make them less valuable while they were being used up. Quilting very likely started with the “dumbed down” and then adventurous women tried something new and thought “Hey! That looks amazing!” It would be great if everyone had the support they need to advance their skills on their own timetable (a mom with three under 5yrs may not care about developing skills and just want to feel like she can complete something that is also lovely) but no one should be shamed for not wanting to stretch their skills. I’ve never sewn a wedding dress and have no interest or desire to do so, but would happily whip out 5 summer skirts with elastic waists in a row. If that means I’ve dumbed down my seamstress abilities, so be it. I’ll have something lovely and useful now instead of something built merely to impress months from now.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I try to reply to every comment, but sometimes it takes a few days. And sometimes, well... it has been known to drop off the radar. I'm easily distracted by shiny things.

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