Irene MacWilliam “You Can’t put a hole a hole don’t belong”

Today’s blog post comes courtesy of a discussion on facebook last night.  Someone posted that a quilter took a completed quilt into a shop only to be told her stitches are too big.  The quilters last night did not like that, not one bit.  I do hope the new quilter finds a shop where she will be encouraged through the process of quilting.  There were a number of stories where quilters were criticized harshly for their lack of skill.  There are a number of quilters who promote big stitch quilting including Billie Lauder who wrote a book on Big Stitch quilting.

I’d love for the person who made the comment to see Irene MacWilliams quilt, “You Can’t put a hole where a hole don’t Belong” it’s a quilt with hole and employs a big stitch style that complements the quilt.

Many years ago when I took my machine quilting class the very wise educator, Carol Brubaker,  gave use these words of wisdom, “show your friends, family, other quilters what you did, don’t point out your flaws – most people won’t notice any way and the ones that do won’t say anything”.  A bit later as I stood chatting with my friends one of the quilters from class shared her sample from class with her friends and shortly started pointing out the flaws in her quilting, I whipped around and reminded her we weren’t supposed to do that.  Her friends quickly kept encouraging her and agreed that they hadn’t noticed any flaws they saw her hard work.

I give this same talk to my students.  It’s an essential part of the process of teaching – particularly in teaching beginner piecing.  When I teach beginner free motion quilting I have a couple of quilts where I point out my flaws.  I want my students to see that I’ve had to go through the process of learning, that it takes time and that they can too.  These are opportunities to discuss the flaw at hand and offer an explanation of the problem and how to fix it.  Even now there are flaws in my quilting.  Places where stitches aren’t quite what I want them to be, where I’ve made mistakes in piecing that I’ve declared “design decisions” and moved on.

Quilters  are often keenly aware of our flaws because we work six inches from our work!

Two eye opening experiences for me over the last 5 years one really good and guilty as charged

Guilty as charged and a public apology: a few years ago at a quilt show I nattered on with friends about someones quilt, what would have been more effective, what I think she should have done differently in her quilt.  Because it was a local guild show I wouldn’t be surprised if she heard the conversation. It wasn’t my place to make those comments and even then I should have known better.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she hadn’t put another quilt in her show.  I am very sorry I made those comments.  Dear quilter please accept my apology and know that this has had an effect on how I teach and behave at quilt shows.  

"Twilight in the Bronx"The better one was a friend telling me at our mini-group meeting that I was hiding my quilting.  Out came the seam ripper, a major change in thread and “Twilight in the Bronx” went from something that was ok to having a life of its own.

Quilting is a gift in so many peoples lives, it’s their creative outlet.  I want to encourage quilters as much as possible.

Happy Quilting!