I think. A lot. Sometimes that thinking will lead me down paths of thinking I need to give up what I’m doing. (I won’t I promise, I can’t) This thinking wasn’t that. In a couple of weeks I’ll have some exciting news to share. I’m excited. Really excited. This news and a conversation with a friend reminded me why I’m ready to keep doing what I’m doing. Her comment was (paraphrased) “in order to get from here to there, you need to do this and that!”
That led me to more thinking. (Big Surprise!) I started thinking about how I teach free motion machine quilting and why I teach the way I do. I continued thinking about how I can teach machine quilting better and encourage my students more. I was thinking about how quilting – from beginning to end – is not particularly easy and how smart and intelligent quilters are in general, no matter what style of quilting they take on. I thought about the time it takes to really get good at quilting in general and machine quilting specifically.
I thought about quilters from long ago who made exquisite quilts with a clear, intuitive understanding of geometry, color, and a sense of purpose and re-purposing. How quilts were meant to keep their families warm. And while quilts often had a utilitarian purpose they could be aesthetically pleasing as well.
I thought about how I once professed to be a self-taught quilter and came to the realization that I learned somewhat intuitively from what I knew from sewing so as a teenager but from patterns written by quilters and books explaining how to make quilts and quilt shop employees that eagerly shared their skill and encouragement. Now there are tools and books and websites and blogs and free patterns from fabric companies. Just think, nearly 40 years since the renewal of quilting in the states quilt making has changed and grown and new tools to make things easier; how machines have changed offering us so many tools and feet to make the process of piecing and quilting easier.
down to us.
It comes to us to believe that we can do good work
It comes to us to believe that our quilting will improve over time
It comes to us to believe that our quilts are good enough
It comes to us to make the commitment to Do The Work to get from here to there.
Where ever there is in the quilting world!
How do I teach machine quilting (for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to take a class with me)?
By showing how the tools, i.e. machine, needles, thread, batting and quilt all come together to create the beauty. By finding ways to encourage each quilter as an individual. By sharing with you the 50/500/10,000 hour principle. 50 hours to become comfortable with the process, 500 hours to be proficient and 10,000 hours to mastery. More importantly by showing students HOW. When I see a student struggling I will ask to sit at their machine and stitch – not to show them up but to see if there’s something going on with the machine that needs attention. It’s important to show a student how to machine quilt as much as it is to explain how we use our tools.
Quilters are indeed smart and intelligent and we need to remember that.