A bit of a rant and I’ve done it myself

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!



9 thoughts on “A bit of a rant and I’ve done it myself”

  1. I think if you are going to criticize, then you should also show or teach someone what could be better. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut! Case in point, a friend, a new quilter, had AWFUL miter corners on her binding. I showed her how to achieve quality! And she was grateful!

    1. constructive and kind and helpful are great, necessary even, it’s when people get all snarky and think there is no other way that gets to be the problem

  2. So true Teri! Most people don’t know what “good” quilting is anyway. I want others to experience the joy in quilting!

  3. I look for “mistakes” on those wonderful and award winning quilts at shows. I share them, if I find them, with no one. It’s the moment I remember when I’m struggling and think I’ll never get it right. It reminds me that perfection is not what it’s about. It’s what reminds me to take a deep breath and try again.

  4. Teri, this blog couldn’t have come at a better time since I’m working on a quilt and just this morning I started picking it apart instead of enjoying what I created. I hope to post a picture of it when I figure out how to do that and maybe I can enjoy that process also. Thank you for letting the creative process take over instead of negativity.

  5. ” I am very sorry I made those comments.” I have done that and I am sure others have too. I try to be mature now (to match my age) and curb my thoughts. We don’t want to discourage beginner quilters, because as they progress they begin to see their own mistakes, it is a learning progress. Older quilters may be having trouble seeing colors and stitches, so I do try to be mindful of that. If they are quilting we should just rejoice for them..

  6. I sometimes look for boo boos just to reassure myself that a certain kind of perfection is just not attainable. I want my stuff to be per-fect and perfect is sooooo subjective.
    Right now I am doing some of that big stitch quilting and it is FAR from perfect. It looks great on the front, the back not so much, but I love it anyway. It’s my first attempt and it can only get better, but it will never be that “ideal” perfection no matter how good I get…..and that’s okay. I prefer quirky anyway!
    As for getting criticism…I have a thick skin but I do like to ask for a critique as this point in my sewing as opposed to having it brought up becasue I like things a little off and that can look like a mistake to those whose vein runs toward the more traditional.

    ps…I am soooo glad that big stitch quilting is taking off becasue I have never really enjoyed the look of the teeny tiny stitching in most applications. But that is a preference and I would never tell someone I don’t like their quilt becasue of something as arbitrary as style. I love that we all do things different.

  7. I had a different bad experience in a quilt shop. I was in my early 20’s and learning quilting from books. I went in and asked if there were any quilt guilds in the area. The lady said “I don’t think you’d be good enough to join a guild.” It was ten years before I joined a group.

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