On having “the talk”

tiara silkFirst up: it’s Thankful Thursday! Time to thank a quilter who’s made a difference in your life. Today’s gratitude goes to: Melissa Thompson Maher, C0-Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Generation Q Magazine. Melissa has a long history in the publishing world, she sees trends happening, has the skill of making a writer sound more like the writer, is a fab mentor, and has one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever met. I am privileged to work with her.
I’m heading to Houston for  Quilt Market this morning and will have breakfast with Melissa tomorrow morning. While I enjoy seeing everything at Market, I’m giddy that Iget that time alone with her. Tomorrow afternoon Generation Q Magazine has a Schoolhouse Presentation with Sizzix at 3:10.

If you’ve ever taken a class, or purchased a sewing machine from me, it’s entirely possible we’ve had “the talk”:

You are a smart, intelligent woman, and you’ve got this.

I’m specifically referring to skills and techniques in quilt making or teaching people to use their sewing machines however, this applies to life in general. I tend to take the approach that if I can do whatever this technique is, that anyone can do it. So often the talk is accompanied by an experiential story such as how I learned how to be careful using my rotary cutter, and rulers. Let’s just say that no stitches were involved, and I’m still quilting, and I’m very careful when I cut.

Sometimes I tell the story of making “When Alex and Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened” and I kept cutting the wrong piece of fabric. I can see myself sitting at the sewing machine, the smaller mat, a ruler, and a rotary cutter next to me. I can feel the frustration as I cut that wrong piece yet again. I remember walking out of my sewing room vowing to sell every piece of fabric that I owned at a serious discount. That was over ten years ago. And now I’ll teach paper piecing.

new york beauty

Quilt making, teaching quilt making, sewing, garment construction and teaching garment making are skill sets that are acquired over time. Each skill improves over time. We all start out trying to cut correctly, and piece correctly, and then quilt correctly. A funny thing happens when we begin to see “mistakes” as an opportunity to cultivate a desired skill set. When we stop, take a look at what’s happening, perhaps ask someone, or several someones some questions, think through the answers and get stitching.

Now you’ll probably note that when I answer questions I can be a bit, mmmm indirect. If a question is about technique, I’m more likely to be direct, and give clear information. When a question is about the artistry I’m more likely to start asking you questions, to get information from you to help you see, that like Dorothy, you have the answer but just need some help getting there.

And there are moments when I give myself the talk, when doubt creeps in. When I’m trying to finish a quilt and I just see every.single.mistake. that is being stitched into that quilt. Or when I’m teaching and a student is struggling and I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say or do to help them understand whatever I’m trying to teach.

On this Thankful Thursday, as I depart for Quilt Market I thank you for being part of my quilty world. You’re helping form me into the quilter I long to be. If you’re so inclined, thank a quilter for helping form you in the quilter you long to be.

Happy Quilting!

Teri

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