16 June, 2009

"Let's Talk" Tuesday...

I had a question posed to me yesterday in the comment section of a previous post. Carla H asked if I thought that EQ6 was worth it for a beginner. I've had similar questions asked of me many times: "is that appropriate for a beginner?" or "could I do that if I'm just starting out?" I'm not qualified to answer any of those questions with a simple answer, I'm going to rely on you and your comments to speak to beginning quilt makers today.

If you could only offer one piece of advice to a beginning quiltmaker, what would that be?

Even if you've only been making quilts for a very short period of time there's undoubtedly someone with less experience than you, therefore you're no longer a beginner; please feel free to weigh in. The advice I would offer is this: "don't be afraid to break the rules". I think quilting "rules" can be daunting and intimidating to beginners: "only stitch a 1/4" seam, always press to the dark, never use steam in your iron", and so on. These "rules" serve to provide a good foundation and, certainly, they exist for good reason; they're tried and true. Breaking the so-called rules has been hard for me, I'm a first born, I have worked most of my adult life attempting to not feel guilty for stepping outside the boundaries. There have been times when I just knew that I must use a different size seam allowance or press my seams open. Being a natural rule-follower caused me much undue worry when I felt led to wander away from what I thought was sanctioned! I would urge any beginner to follow their instincts and do what feels right to them. If they want to turn a nine-patch wallhanging into a king-sized quilt who am I to tell them that's not a good idea? If they want to launch into computer-aided design and haven't even sewn that first stitch, I'd say: "go ahead"! Certainly read everything quilt related that you can find, take a good beginner-level class from a recommended instructor, and attend as many quilt shows as you're able to locate. Then, get down to business. Enjoy the process and don't be afraid to break the rules!

...and sew, let's talk...
Life is Good!

PS-- If you're a "non-reply" commenter I cannot answer direct questions with a follow up e-mail, please consider linking an e-mail address to your blogger log in, it makes life much easier. Thanks!

19 comments:

*karendianne. said...

One piece of advice to a beginning quilter. Any new endeavor, anything I'm learning, I tend to follow the same pattern. I find myself attracting skilled (or gifted) mentors. Then I work hard to be the best student I can. With all the verbs associated to what a student does.

di said...

Bravo! I have been a quilter for almost 40 years - started as an infant (LOL!!!!) Please think of quilting "rules" as "guidelines"! When I teach classes I tell my students the only rules are to do the best you can (sloppy is't worth your time) and have fun! I use EQ and have for years - great tool to learn about design and construction. If you are computer savy it is a great tool for you.

My personal advice for a new quilter is to buy quality tools. You may think cheap rotary cutting equipment is a good value, but these are the things that cause the most problems in class! When it comes to quilting - cheap is just cheap. If finances are an issue for you, ask to borrow - quilters are generally very helpful!

Karen Newman Fridy said...

My advice is just dive in! Start small for your first project - wallhanging, table topper, etc. Then if it doesn't turn out the way you hoped you haven't invested too much. I was so intimidated by the "rules" that I spent almost a year reading (Fons and Porter's big quilting book, title escapes me at the moment)before I got up the nerve to actually DO anything. And my first attempt was so bad I never finished it! Fabric selections were not good, piecing was good but I tried to hand quilt high loft batting. Funny, really!

So, dive on in!

Domestic Designer said...

My daughter has just started her quilting journey. My advice to her was initially to keep it simple. Success on the first project is so important. If the first quilt turns out well then the inspiration flows and leads us to so many wonderful adventures! She is well into that first project and so far it looks great and she couldn't be more pleased. I am pretty happy too because now I have a new quilting buddy!:-)

Rhonda said...

This was an excellent question. I'm all for experiencing new or updated gadgets, methods, technology, etc. This is the way we all learn and advance. If my grandma were alive, boy would she right in there learning and doing. Go for it.
Also having a group of people to help you along the way adds to your experiences.
Take care.

The Calico Cat said...

My advice: "Just do it!" At the end of the day, your quilt will still keep someone warm, cushion a pet, display nicely on a table or hang on a wall beautifully.

One of my first quilts had bias edges, if I knew they bias could be tricky to work with before hand, I would not have made that quilt - sure the points don't match, but it is still a quilt & it is still a personal favorite.

(I am self taught, I just decided to make a quilt one day & by the end of the day I had a ton of rotary cutter nicks on my hands and my el cheapo table cloth.)

Quiltdivajulie said...

What is the first thing I share with a new quilter?

THERE ARE NO QUILT POLICE, no matter what ANYONE tells you.

Translation - there is no single right way v. wrong way, there is no one who has the right to tell you that you can't do something differently than the next person, there is no reason you can't mix color A with color B. [In time, each quilter will find their own path, discover what is most pleasing to them, brings them the greatest joy and satisfaction, and inspires them to continue on their quilting journey.)

If a newbie keep this thought in mind, then everything else will flow the way it is meant to unfold.

And I totally agree about avoiding cheap tools!

Nan said...

Interesting question. I am teaching a neighbor to quilt, and I tell her to have good tools, like a good iron, rotary cutter, rulers and mat, and purchase 100% cotton fabric. I feel if you're going to take the time to create something, it might as well be with quality equipment.
I think that quilting is exactly like life - it is a journey, not a destination. I have quilted for many years, and I'm still learning new things. That is part of the joy of quilting to me. It is a creative process - one that (for me) never ends.

Maryjo said...

I, personally, treasure my vintage quilts that I have acquired. None of them are perfect but they are absolutely beautiful. All of the "tools of the trade" have encouraged perfection which does stress out a beginner quilter. I have to admit I am a perfectionist but in the total quilt package being perfect is not the key. It is to enjoy the journey...and I hope all beginners do just that. Let the quilt express you...not anyone else...and enjoy the entire journey!

SpinningStar said...

Find a friendly mentor to help you and when you are know enough about quilting, then help someone else. The key is friendly.

One neighbor of mine is an experienced seamstress and she takes the same approach with quilting- if it is not right, take it out. My other neighbor hadn't sewn in a while, but wanted to make a quilt for her first grandbaby. We lent her tools and helped with fabric selection. But, after a while, she came to me for the next step, probably since I was gentler in giving advice.

Other advice - go to your library to see what quilting books can be checked out. Once you find a good technique book, then buy it. Get a digital camera and take plenty of photos at quilt shows. And take pictures of what you liked and don't like - color combinations, borders, block placements, overall feeling of the quilt, etc.

And get the best basic tools you can afford.
Liz

Judy H. said...

One I still have to remind myself of often: Don't stress if it's not as good as you want it to be, as long as you are doing your best. Beginners always try to be perfect right away (I'm new to quilting, but have been teaching beginning knitters for years), and that's not realistic. Don't expect all your points to meet on a complicated block right away, but do try your best to get to that point, if you want to.

A related thought: If you're happy doing nine-patches and never making anything with triangles, don't let people tell you you're not a "real" quilter.

*karendianne. said...

Okay I have to go back and add one more vote for "good, quality tools." You are only as good as that. (and a book is a tool, too!)

Jill said...

My advice...start small. Not just in the size of your quilt, but in how many tools you buy, how much fabric, what machine and your expectations. It's silly to sink $$$ into something you may hate after you cut the corners off your first 800 half square triangles.

Quilt Memories said...

My advice is probably like all the rest, good tools,etc. But paying attention in classes and to people trying to help you will make all the difference.You may not agree, but you WILL learn something valuable.Even if it's that you absolutely don't like what you are seeing or hearing, at least you know that much. You may change your mind down the road, but for the moment, you have learned that much!

Libby said...

My advice would be - Be Fearless! The first class I signed up for as a rank beginner was for a circular Christmas tree skirt. They shopkeeper tried (in vain) to talk me out of it. I didn't know that curved piecing was hard. I arrived at my class with not a bit of fear of those curves. 10 years later, I have a tree skirt that I love and use every year *s*

Shasta said...

My advice to beginning quilters: start with the easier patterns (squares or rectangles) and work your way up. You only need to buy the equipment needed to make that particular quilt. Expect mistakes - it is a part of quilting and just about every other endeavor. Just forgive yourself and fix it or start the block over.

BJ said...

I love EQ - have never made a quilt without it...even as a beginner, and even the smaller wall hangings which depict each grandchild's favorite sport were all drawn out in EQ. When I see a quilt in a magazine that I want to make, I will still draft it in EQ. I can easily and quickly see how my own creativity can enhance or detract from the original version, not to mention all the fun I can have with colors and fabrics.

There's much good advice here!

CarlaH said...

Wow, one question so many answers. Thank you one and all. I do belong to a small quilt club with experienced members who are more than generous in passing their knowledge on to others and will be joining our local Quilt Guild in the fall.

Michelle said...

I have done a lot of thinking about this over the past week. I am not sure I would give any advice other than have fun and it is easier than it looks. I am not trying to be trite but I have learned in quilting that there are so many different ways to do the same thing, so probably being consistent and finding your own way would be good advice. One of the things I love about quilting is that it brings in so many different talent areas. Math, sewing, hand sewing, graphic design and the list goes on. Usually most people have some other talent that works well with quilting and I would probably suggest they start where they get to use the talents they have. I would have no problem recommending EQ6 to a beginner.