Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Igniting the Passion


The other day I received an email from one of the readers of my blog, a new blog friend, Angie. My face turned a little red and that boiling feeling began to bubble in my gut. Then I felt a little sad. Angie said she didn't mind if I shared her story. This is what she wrote:

I really enjoy your blog and would like to get your perspective on quilting. I just finished a beginning quilting class from a master quilter. I am new to sewing and quilting and I was really excited about this class...now, however, I am very discouraged. This lady was very "technical" and had no idea what I meant when I said "wonky log cabin." In fact, she said that quilters only did that who couldn't quilt correctly......At the end of the second day, I told the girl sitting beside me that I want to learn how but not like this...
Do you have any advice to give to a new sewer and quilter?

While I do think technique and quality construction are important, they aren't more important than welcoming new folks into the quilting community. Technique will come with practice and experience. The more quilts we make the better we become. If we don't encourage and welcome new folks, new ideas, we are risking quilting becoming a lost art. I'm passionate about growing the art of quilting; lighting that spark, that love, that passion in as many folks as I can, especially the younger generation.

Wouldn't a better answer to Angie's question have been, "No, I'm not familiar with a wonky log cabin, tell me about it?" That would have told me that the 'master quilter' was not only a master of the art, but that she was a learner as well. My guess is that in her years as a quilter, she has messed up seams, sewn pieces right side to wrong side, had points that didn't match and some wacky quilting along the way. Those are our badges of honor.

I guess my advice would be learn what you can and make quilts. Have a ball, embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Make more quilts. Repeat.

I had to put up some wonky log cabins, cause I'm kind of an in your face kinda gal. I may not quilt "correctly", I may not be a master, but I love quilting and I want you to love it too.

118 comments:

Nova said...

hear hear!
great post Jacquie.
x

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

What a shame that your Angie had to meet a "master" and get her enthusiasm crushed. Why do people do that?!

I began with no tools except a scissors and a sewing machine; i was blessed to have a couple women who gave me fabric and encouragement to do what ever I wanted to and to have a good time at it. So I did and I am in love with the idea of being able to do anything anyway that strikes me.

A thank you must be said to Naptime Quilter Cheryl Arkinson, she has been a great joy to share with as I made my first few pieces.

jenny said...

I wasn't going to comment but I kept thinking about this post. Not only is she being needlessly discouraging, but the wonky log cabin is also a terrific way to learn how to quilt because it is so forgiving. I could have never done a proper traditional quilt with lining up points and such when I first started. But now I would do much better after practicing on other less geometric styles.

As a side note, I tend to find quilt shops to not be all that welcoming environments. I think maybe I don't look enough like the typical quilter that they will help anyone else in the store before they would help or chat with me.

megan said...

Amen, quilty sister! Two of my first quilts are "disasters" of mismatched seams, improper binding, and blocks that aren't square. They are currently being loved and snuggled under every single night by my two children. They may not be "perfect" but they were made with love and enthusiasm.

My advice to Angie would be to trust herself because she knows she wants to learn to quilt. And she knows that even "masters" aren't always the best teachers. The online/blogging community is endlessly supportive and generous with its knowledge. You CAN do it!

britt said...

Amen!
Having worked at a modern quilt shop, I can tell you I talked to customers almost daily who were afraid they would be kicked out of the club if their points didn't match... or if their thread wasn't the right fiber content, or if their fabrics weren't matchy-match, and on and on. Ya know, it ruins the fun! There's a place for 'the right way' and there's a place for 'my way'; I tried to share that while I was an on-the-clock expert!

(Because I am younger, I sometimes had to convince new quilters who were older than me that yes, I could help them, and yes, I have made dozens of quilts... but once that was established it was on!)

megan said...

I love this post. As a new quilter myself I'm sure I never would've fallen in love with quilting without the supportive and forgiving online community. One of my first quilts was a wonky log cabin from the Old Red Barn Co. And it gave me the confidence to tackle more "technical" patterns. But the WLC is still a favorite! And I agree that traditional quilt shops can seem to turn a shoulder to the "fresh, modern" movement, but I take any glimpse of curiosity from the women at my LQS as an opportunity to drag in my newest project for show and tell, and they seem genuinely supportive, even if the way I piece and quilt is something new to them. I think we all have so much to learn from and be inspired by one another.

Blue Is Bleu said...

I work at a quilt shop and I'd say a majority of people I come across are of the mindset that points need to match and there are rules to follow with inner and outer borders etc. I love both traditional and modern and I don't believe there's a right or wrong way in quilting. It's art and art is what you make of it.

Benta said...

And I always thought that references to " the quilt police " was a joke! I have been so lucky that everyone I have met has encouraged and supported me, even if they have occasionally laughed ( with me) at the methods I came up with while I made up my own methods!!!,

Theresa said...

Oh what wise words. I hope Angie follows your wonky log cabin tutorial because that's what made me fall in love with the simplicity, uniqueness and 'FUN' of quilting and fabric play. Oh....and you forgot to mention the time you forgot to pop in the batting.....I loved that story and it makes me think twice everytime I get down on my knees to pop in that first pin!! Good on Angie for getting in touch with you and thanks for sharing.

Ethne said...

It would appear that this 'master quilter' is master of her own self importance and enjoys feeling superior.
My first quilt is one huge batch of errors as I hadn't a clue what I was doing - I learn more from following blogs and chatting with bloggers and going with what I like and what 'feels' right along with friends helpful, constructive advice.
To be honest the more I see of these type of comments the less likely I am to spend good time and money on a class that might upset more than help.
Angie follow blogs and continue asking guidance and questions from fellow bloggers we all learn as we go and they are a friendly helpful bunch.

Contented Caroline said...

I had a similar experience with my first attempts at quilting - it could have put me off but I was too excited by the thrill of the fabric - I told my 'master' teacher that my style was 'rustic' like it or lump it! I did however take in some of what she taught me - some bits were useful but I have just learnt to develop my own style.

Bellgirl said...

Poor old Master Quilter missing out on so much. Lucky Angie that she thought of someone else to ask! I haven't done any quilting courses, and have learnt enough from bloggy friends and those who have become real-time sewing group friends to make several quilts which I love, for their flaws as much as their successes. It gives me a feeling of being a social animal to learn these things without undertaking 'formal education' but rather by doing it the way it's been done for millenia, by respecting, receiving and passing on crafting skills.

BTW have you seen the film "Strictly Ballroom"? It's about orthodoxy and its limitations (and it's a hoot!).

Cindi said...

Obviously this "master quilter" has been out of touch with the quilting world for a very long time. Wonky quilts have been around for quite a while.

A "master quilter" is one who is a pro at their craft and keeps up with the times and techniques. Maybe she should call herself an "antique quilter" instead. She may have the experience, but doesn't have the knowledge anymore....

Marie said...

My first quilting class was a community education class with a bunch of "older than me" ladies who never stopped encouraging us "girls" to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX ....

To this day those who are still with us (it was 20 years ago and they were in their 70's) they still get excited when I share projects and I introduced one the the quilt blogging community -- she's having a blast .....

So -- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX !!!!

Marie

Andi said...

Stuff the snobby perfectionist!!!
Hooray for wonk!!!

BaileyGirl5 said...

I feel so blessed to have found such a rewarding craft and a great community of supportive quilters. I've been learning and growing and never have I felt bad for my shortcomings. We're all learning and thanks for your encouragement. It's people like you and your inspirational blog that have made me enjoy quilting so much!

Elizabeth D. said...

Jacquie, thanks for this post. Like the new sewist you mention, I've been told pretty much the same in various old-school fabric stores in my area who look at me like I'm crazy when I mention anything relating to modern quilting. They're appalled that I quilt without having taken classes on the subject. They're appalled when I ask about things like wonky log cabin. I just think it's a shame that they're so negative to new quilters. I know it turns me off, and I'm glad to hear that you guys are so supportive. This is one of the reasons I love your blog - other than its' obvious inspiration! So, thank you, your response was a good shot in the arm for me, too.

Beth said...

wonky is what drew me to the 'modern quilt movement' !!!

patty a. said...

It drives me crazy that an inflexible "master" quilter can get teaching gigs, but a technically excellent funky quilter can't. I am all for learning how to get your points to match, but you also need to have fun and support. I say to Angie keep trying to find a quilting buddy that can be your go to person when you have a problem. I know how hard that can be, but finding the right person or group will help so much!

grendelskin said...

I think there have always been teachers like this - I remember hardnose teachers squashing a budding interest or two in school. As for the Quilt Police: we see all kinds of "humility blocks" in antique quilts, and I'd wager few of our great-grandmothers fussed over technique nearly as much as many of us do today. If it's beautiful and it keeps you warm, it's a total success.

Cecily said...

Hear, hear, Jacquie! I can't tell you how I struggled with this when I was first starting out and it is the main reason I have been mostly self-taught. I wish more people thought about quilting the way you do. I think it is a craft that should be accessible to all!

Joanna said...

I had the exact same thing happen to me about a year and a half ago. I was going in search of a "modern string" quilt. I was told that either 1) that wasn't a real quilt or 2) maybe it was, but it wasn't worth my time. It is just crushing when you go to someone who you think will be able to help you to learn and grow only to find out that they don't think anything you want to do is "real." Despite the nay sayer, I kept on sewing and creating-even if it wasn't "real." I'm proud to say that I now work in a quilt shop and yes, I'm the only one there who is a "modern" quilter and YES they are always shocked when I bring in (yet another) patternless quilt. BUT the women do respect me, my opinion and my unique style. In fact, when people come in saying words like "wonky" or "iprov" they are always sent straight to me! Keep your chin up and sew what you like-that is, after all, what quilting is all about!

The Tulip Patch said...

Here is how I feel: Once upon a time quilting was a necessity. It was done out of old clothes, feedsacks, and whatever could be scrounged up. It had to be done...whether you had a quilting style or not, whether you enjoyed it or not. To act like a quilt must be made only 1 way out of only the perfect materials all from 1 fabric line is so ridiculous to me. My mom was a great seamstress but not a great quilter and the 3 quilts she gave me are not in the greatest shape BUT I still love them because I love her and I always remember that when I make a quilt that is not perfect.

Sara said...

YES! We need encouragement and not discouragement here in the quilting world!! I love that you did this post and I really love that last pic of the red quilt you have up. Soon I am going to get a darning foot and do some free motion quilting!

Cindy said...

Well said! Anything goes in quilting - that's why it's such a fun creative art!

jen said...

Love this post! I'm a very, very green quilter who is in the process of opening a needlecraft shop within my town because I cannot find any modern quilting cottons anywhere in town. The response to my inquiry as to whether or not they carried Anna Maria Horner at one of the current shops was, "WHOOO?" Like I was the one who didn't know what I was talking about. They also didn't know who Kaffe Fassett is!

Their loss, (hopefully) my gain! I can't imagine not wanting to learn everything you can about your passion! Maybe that "master" quilter chose pride over passion, sadly.

kathi said...

Amen!

Just JaiCi's Crafts said...

That makes me so angry!!! How dare she say that to a new quilter! I teach some quilting classes too, and I always get "Aren't you a little YOUNG to be teaching a quilting class?" I was offended the first time but then realized....yeah, I might be young - but I've been doing this for 17 years!!! Age doesn't matter, technique choice doesn't matter. As long as we are learning and enjoying...isn't that what REALLY matters?!?!?!?!
I hope she found a much better teacher....where is she from - if she's close, I'll teach her :)

debra lynn said...

I had to point out at my quilt shop, that I wanted my logs wonky after she was giving me tips on how to get them to be straight. Sigh. I know exactly where Angie is coming from. Some people can only see the world in exactly perpendicular lines. How boring is their world?

creativedawn said...

Outrageous! If I didn't know what a wonky log cabin block was, I would have learned from that lady on that day!!! I don't know about anyone else, but it isn't easy to make a wonky log either, lol! I'm in the Philadelphia area if that quilter needs an encouraging sewing buddy!!!! pass along my link!

hugz,
Pam

leigh said...

Haha. I laughed out loud when I read that people who quilt like that just don't know how to do it correctly.

I think it really shows the difference between the traditional quilter and the modern quilter.

I would put myself in the modern category, but there are plenty of traditional blocks I like. Maybe in addition to style, it's also an attitude. (Although I'm sure there are also traditional quilters who are maybe a bit more laid back about being perfect.)

I LOVE your wonky log cabins (bettern than the traditional ones for sure.)

Lisa said...

I find myself avoiding traditional quilt guilds for that reason, more or less...a lot of people are very good technically, but not really very imaginative artistically. I prefer to wing it a little and be more of the latter!

jaybird said...

it's sad that this happened to angie... but i'm really glad that you shared it...

i went through similar experiences for the first few YEARS of my quilting "life" and sometimes i'm still surprised that i wasn't pushed away from it all! ... in the end i guess it was my LOVE for quilting that helped get me through...

i know how to do things the "right" way.. and the way that works for me! ...i love teaching quilting classes.. and one of my favorite things is when my students teach me something!

Sew Many Mamas said...

AMEN!!!

Marbles in a Mason Jar said...

I find it very sad that this keeps happening all over the world. When I got into quilting, I thought it would be an exciting chance to be with other quilters who share the same passion as I do and to share different ideas with one another. Unfortunately, I too have been through this same situation, over and over and over....blah. I was told recently by a woman in my quilt group that if I wanted to sell my quilts, I would have to completely change my style because: 1) my quilts were ugly, 2) people only like traditional quilts. Needless to say, I'm not a part of that quilt group any more.

PS - Your answer is the best answer, ever. :)

Lindsay said...

I am also a new quilter and Ill be honest, the wonky and fun and newness of of blogs I follow is what really got me into quilting. I am not a traditionalist in my tastes by any means (much to my aunt's dismay).

I think you are right. We should all be open to new ideas, even masters in a subject. Openness to learning is what enhances our knowledge of the subject. Things are constantly changing in every field, including quilting.

The Calico Cat said...

From my perspective & in my humble opinion, this is the point of view in the mainstream (most fabric shops/quilt guilds) quilting community.

Which is unfortunate.

I would suggest taking a general basic sewing/quilting class. Because good construction IS important. & Learn a bit about ALL techniques.

Then scour the internet & books for inspiration on taking a "normal" log cabin & transforming it into a "wonky" log cabin.

Stacey said...

My mom is considered to be a 'master quilter', but is always looking for new techniques & ideas to incorporate in her work. She's very willing to work with new quilters because she remembers being one herself.

The master quilter in this post reminds me a lot of the fabric shop staff & fellow crafters I've had experience with in my town...heaven forbid someone have an original or unique idea. And having to justify to people why you've chosen a particular style/technique/fabric is nor only ridiculous, but unnecessarily frustrating & demoralizing.

Whew...apparently I needed to vent a bit :)

Amy said...

I just finished teaching a Quilting 101 class and I told the students that as far as I was concerned, it was their quilt and they could do what they wanted. It's true that if you're seams are smaller than 1/4 inch you are risking having them fall apart, so not every single thing is negotiable. But clearly the "master" has not tried wonky quilting, because I think it actually requires MORE thought than just cutting out the pieces to the prescribed size and sewing them together. You have to really be thinking ahead. Shame on her for being so snarky!!

Laura said...

You don't know how much your wonky quilts and machine quilting have inspired me. I had given up quilting until I saw them and read your entire blog. Even when I do something traditional, I am much more relaxed now. Thank you so much for sharing.

Alissa said...

Grumble grumble!!! The anger this brings up in me!!! Just like you... There is a sewing shop here in LA (I won't name names) that has a quilting class I don't teach. I have gotten emails from people who have taken my class and then take that one saying "oh my god - this class is SO boring."

WHY?!? I will NEVER understand why some quilters treat it like a craft that you can only do if you are a nit picky perfectionist with no creative spirit! They just wanna drive that excitement out of you with their 1/4" seam practicing. Ha! Of course craftsmanship matters enormously, but the idea that a DESIGN CHOICE would be "wrong" or "bad quilting"... UGH! Makes me wanna scream.

We're all here to prove them wrong!!

John said...

Great post, Jacquie ... and the comments are all even better. Angie's experience was unfortunate, but I am glad she was passionate enough to reach out to you for advice. I hope that when she sees your post and all of the subsequent comments, she'll know that her aesthetic and perspective are appreciated by more people than she may think.

Lynn said...

Quilting is supposed to be fun ( a lesson it took some time for me to learn). Experimenting with fabrics, colors, patterns, it should all be just fun. Imagine it we all stuck to the same traditional patterns how boring that would be.

MichelleB said...

So sad. Unfortunately, I think there are far too many people that take this approach to too many things in life. I think is better approach is learn to love something, then master it. Nobody wants to master something they don't love.

Lindy said...

How sad! I love to see a well made quilt, but I love to see first quilts even more. Using good techniques is nice, but having fun is more important. I hope your writer finds another teacher or better yet, a friend, to help her find her happy quilting place.

Lee said...

Seriously? Has this master quilter heard of the Gee's Bend ladies? Denyse Schmidt? Mistakes while learning aside, many very accomplished expert quilters CHOOSE wonkiness, because they like how it looks! There's no "right" or "wrong" involved.

Thank you for this post. I think my piecing skills are finally coming along (after MUCH practice), but I'm still really struggling with quilting. Just last night I was thinking that I had ruined a very nice quilt with my abysmal quilting. Now I realize it'll be loved just the same. Thanks for the encouragement.

live a colorful life said...

I agree that there are one or two things that are technically non-negotiable, a good 1/4 inch seam being one of them. Beyond that, I love the whole "modern" quilting movement, which is really about personal self-expression and creativity. And that is one of the best things about quilting--taking beautiful fabric and making it "yours." Thanks for this great post, Jacquie!

Sherri said...

Beautifully said...I, too, agree that the most important thing is to inspire new quilters to embark on this wonderful artful journey!

Sequana said...

I suppose if you begin to quilt with the idea of entering actual shows and winning prizes, then you might want to start with the "quilt police techniques" but really - how many of us want to do that? I hope Angie stays right here with you and with some others that do a great job of "modern" quilting; she can pick up so many good tips and techniques, PLUS support by doing that.

It reminds me of Cherri House and her question of why shops push people away from solids, just when everyone is starting to work with those. I'd think it's cause they are cheaper to buy, but I may be too suspicious. *S*

Elaine Adair said...

That poor "Master Quilter" needs to learn some life-lessons! Arghhh - I'm getting upset just reading about it! Wow - if there's a way to ruin a lovely hobby or pastime, she sure knew how. Personally, I make my best efforts each time I make a quilt, but some days, well - we all know how it happens, and fussing over errors, mistakes, overlooked direction of units or seams, will spoil the whole effort. (IMHO)

Thanks for posting the story. I lead/teach some classes, and I hope the gals know that I ENJOY the process, ENJOY doing things MY way, and hope they learn that the pleasure of making a quilt is as important or MORE important than the end product.

Littlebook said...

That sound you hear is me giving you a standing ovation. Well said!

Melissa said...

Angie's experience is so frustrating to hear about. I grew up around sewing all my life and appreciated it but didn't get inspired to actually sit down and sew regularly until I discovered some amazing modern blogs. I've learned so much and I'm inspired on a daily basis but there's nothing like being able to fellowship with other quilters who love what you love.

I'd encourage Angie to keep looking for people who share her love for a more modern style. They are out there (sometimes in very traditonal shops and classes)! When you find them, try to connect on a regular basis. Visit a local modern quilt guild if you have one within driving distance. If not, think about starting one or a small sewing group.

Jacquie, your advise to just start sewing is so true. You learn so much by just jumping in and giving it a try. There are some great tutorials by wonderful bloggers. And I love being able to sew and cut at my own pace at home, being able to scroll back and refer to different steps. You can't do that in a live class.

So here's a challenge and reminder to all of us to reach out and encourage new quilters. And experienced quilters that are curious about the modern style. And quilters who's style is different from ours. When it comes down to it, don't we want other people to experience the joy and passion of creating no matter what style they like?

Misa said...

If you never learn anything new, you'll only produce the same tired stuff you've always made. As someone who works in an art field that's my motto and belief. For this "master" quilter to not even open up to something she didn't know means she's not someone I'd want to learn from. If anything. Making wonkey quilts requires more skill to get it perfect rather than following a strict set of rules and measuremetns. I've met a few people with such an elitist attitude and kindly (okay, maybe not so kindly) point out that a lot of younger quilters, like myself, got into the art because of the modern patterns. I respect tradition, but that's not my style.

Wonder what such a "master" would say about the Gee's Bend quilts? They don't exactly use patterns and a set of measurements. Handsewn and a lot are wonkey looking...This boils my blood when people aren't open to new ways of doing things.

To Angie, keep learning new techniques and patterns! If I were you I'd share some links to modern quilting with this "master."

paisley and lace said...

Thank goodness for all the great bloggers. I returned to quilting due to the inspiration and tutorials found on sites such as this. There are definately 2 groups, though. I see that just looking at the quilts displayed at the fair. I appreciate the skill of the 'master quilters'. I do. But I love the art and beauty in the modern quilting. And since I'm pretty much a do-it-without-a-pattern type of gal, modern quilting is for me. And I am ever grateful to people like you, Jacquie, for leading the way :)

Quilt on, Angie! Let blog-world be your guide!

Char said...

Bravo! Thank you so much! I've been sewing all my life. Imagine being discouraged just as you're trying to get started. Shame on that "master quilter"!

Margaret said...

Love this post and all the comments! As a single mother working full time and going to grad school, I don't have time for classes. I read blogs, magazines, books. My quilts are what I want them to be. I don't aspire to win national awards, just to please myself and my friends.
If you really want to see works of quilting art that don't follow the rules, check out the newest Quiltmania that displays some amazing quilts made by women on a small island in the Phillipines. These women were taught the proper way and didn't like it. They are sold in Japan - I wish they would see them here! That's art :)

wishes, true and kind said...

Thank you for your thoughtful and well written post. You said it! I have posted on both my blog and the PMQG blog, linking back to this post. Cheers to all modern quilters who ignite the passion in others and provide the encouragement to keep it moving forward.

joan

EmileeHope said...

I believe that quilting is an art form...and just like in any type of art, there are different styles. Everyone has there own style...and then there are those of us who truly like it all!! But I find it sad when someone isn't open enough to at least acknowledge the other ways!
I think quilting should be fun and expressive, and how expressive can you be when you are stuck trying to make everything perfect the very first time! (Although, that can be a lesson in itself, the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect...when all we can be, and need to be, is ourselves!!)

Julie said...

I just read the greatest book "The Gentle Art of Quilt Making" by Jane Brocket. The photos are magical. Jane is debating about taking up quilting but worries. She talks to a friend who says something like "just get some cloth, cut it up, and sew it back together. What's so hard about that???" Jane goes for it. Jane's quilts are beautiful and demonstrate how beauty can be achieved with simple shapes. A good read for any quilter master, modern, traditional, beginner, etc.

Caroline ~ TrilliumDesign said...

I'm glad you posted this. It is exactly that kind of negative attitude that kept me away from quilting for so many years. I'm an outside the box, rule-breaking kind of person and I think that doing something differently doesn't have to mean it's wrong. Hear hear to you Jacquie for posting this sentiment and I sincerely hope your newest reader will realize that doing it her own way is totally ok!

Valerie said...

That is such a shame, I can't believe someone would say that especially in a teaching position when you are there to teach someone and learn from them also. I am a quilting teacher and I understand how we quilters want our techniques to be great and we strive for our points to match but like you said that comes, the art of quilting and being together is what a "quilter" is and consuming fabric and chocolate help with that lol but that poor teacher is missing out on so much and your Angie is feeling discouraged now...Don't give up Angie, make a wonky log cabin and be proud of it!! How fun!
Valerie
http://www.PastimesOnline.ca/Vals-Quilting/

WendyLou said...

Yup. I've had that same response from the ladies at my local quilt shop. They also seem to have an aversion to selling modern fabrics. And heaven forbid I should mention that I learned anything about quilting (which is everything I know about it) ONLINE! Yikes! You would think that I'd spoken quilting heresy! That's why I am SO thankful for you and others who so generously teach all of us online quilters :)

Marilyn said...

Well said, friend! Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a Modern Quilt Guild in Angie's area where she could go to be encouraged and inspired...and where they know what a wonky log cabin is?!!

Fabric Fanatic said...

Amen to that! I am grateful for the women who taught me the technical aspects of making a quilt; they did not appreciate much the "modern" aesthetics of some new quilt trends, but I didn't let that stop me. I have learned so much from my blog buddies and find my encouragement there. You are among them.

quiltytherapy said...

This "master" teacher is obviously very stuck on tradition and wanted to try to convey the traditional rules.

I didn't take a class until 8 years after I started. I've always just done my own thing.

Remember what prompted you to want to get involved with this. Have fun, do what make sense to you.

mjb said...

This attitude is what has kept me away from quilt guilds and I have to remind myself that most people feel this way every time I think I might enter one of my projects in a fair. I've only been quilting a year, but I think my results would be viewed as very amateur even when they're exactly as I want them to be. And my friends who aren't up on the right way and wrong way of doing things are seem to like my finished products just fine, and appreciate that there's a modern aesthetic at work. I wonder how we can get the traditionalists and quilt police (I believe Mark Lipinski has stronger language for them) to realize that quality is different than taste - anytime you read the craftnectar blog you know that Weeks Ringle is a stickler for quality, but her quilts are far from traditional. It's weird that there's such a divide in such a benign-seeming field as quilting. Lizzy House's presentation at Quilt Market about how to get younger shoppers into quilt shops is good at addressing this, too.

Natalie said...

This is beautifully put with just enough sass to make me want to raise my fist up, elbow out, and yell 'take that!' or 'yeah!'.

I heard a story from my sister whose friend made her a rag quilt. The rag quilt was beautiful and a perfect gift but when her friend showed it to another quilter, that quilter told her it wasn't really a quilt. That made me mad. I couldn't get that out of my mind for awhile.

The Modern Quilt Guild post about what it means to be modern has a comment describing modern quilting as the third leg of a stool with traditional quilting as one leg and art quilting as the other.

There's another comment in there about modern quilting being a combination of fundamentals and materials from traditional quilting but the no-rules approach to art quilting.

There's room in this art for all sorts and it bothers me that there are some who can't appreciate what others are doing.

Angie- Yes you can cross your quilting lines! Yes you can quilt with all straight lines and no they don't all have to be evenly spaced or even perfectly straight! Yes you CAN use solids rather than tone on tones--they are not flat and dull! Yes WONKY is a technique and not a mistake! I daresay it's harder to make something wonky than to make something straight.

My favorite quote is: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" -Mahatma Gandhi. Remember to embrace the work of others and be an example for how you would like to be treated and how you would like other modern quilters to be treated. Be the change!

leslie said...

oh my goodness. what an awesome post. what a great question and a great, great answer. i know these women. i see them in the lqs in my area. when i take something in or ask for something except thimbleberries everyone in the room is staring. you know what though? i went on a road trip with these "master quilters" to go to fabric stores all over our area, wv and tennessee and i found that they were asking me a lot more questions than i was asking them. sure...their quilts adorn the walls of the quiltshop. the same quilts have been there over a year. i do not think a quilt made by jacquie would hang in that shop a year, do you? i, like the others, am so grateful she asked you. it does take practice, practice and more practice. i think i will post my most awful mistake on my blog and see if i can get others to do the same. just to show it takes time.
thanks for sharing, leslie

Terriaw said...

I thought modern meant to push the envelope, to think outside the box, which means be creative and use your imagination! How discouraging to hear someone discourage a beginner's creativity and sense of trying something new and a bit wonky. I love that quilters are putting their own twist on modern projects. I love your response, Jacque, that the teacher should have offered!

Natalie said...

I noticed Jenny mentioned quilt shops and just wanted to put my two cents in on that. I also do not fit the typical quilter profile and I don't like the way I'm treated. There's a great video from spring Market of Lizzy House talking about how quilt shops can earn and keep our business and I really hope that the message starts getting through! Her main points were:

-be nice to me (the number 1 point)
-carry the fabric I like
-offer shopping hours at least 1 day a week during the evening for people who work
-offer classes during evening or weekend hours for people who work.

here's the link for anyone interested in reading:
http://lizzyhouse.typepad.com/lizzyhouse/2010/08/videofilm.html

and I blogged a little about it here:
http://www.threadedmess.com/2010/08/i-heart-kona-solids.html

Meg said...

I love that so much good advice and great wisdom in these comments can come from one woman sharing an unfortunate incident. Angie, thank you for letting Jacquie share your story!

I'm entirely self-taught, with the exception of following the occasional tutorial. I learn by reading books and blogs, and then trial and error on my own. I've made some major mistakes--and learned from every single one. Each new quilt teaches me a valuable lesson. The thought of being nit-picky about every point and seam gives me heart-burn. For me, the joy of quilting is the organic nature of working with color and texture to create something that will be used for years to come.

My advice to Angie--find either a book on quilting basics or a class that just covers basics (if you have a LQS that you like, and they run a class, even better). Or, let tutorials and your own intuition be your guide. You may find that you don't need "formal teaching" in the first place!

jackie said...

I think the best place to find out about quilting are blogs like yours. A good start is by joining a quilt-a-long. I tend to buy my fabric at JoAnn's,they may not always have the best, but my quilts are made to be used not artwork, they also don't mind if I pull lots of bolts out to play with color. Another great place are shops on the web. Ebay is good to, you can use other peoples scraps!!!!! I've been quilting for years but I love to pull out the 2nd quilt I made and show it to beginners, then we all can laugh and relax!!

Alice R. said...

This is what I love about my quild - it is so accepting. Angie, keep looking! When the first guild in my area was like that, I went for a while until I found another. My guild which I drive for 35 min for, is huge, full of welcome and fun, masters and beginners. Don't give up - we are out there looking for you!

Teri K. said...

Beautiful post, thank you.

HouseMama Tess said...

I'm a fairly new quilter (I've only completed one traditional-style sampler and a couple pillows) and am mostly self-taught. My mother and I spent a summer figuring it out together and now we are both in love. We find it to be such a creative, useful outlet that can be shared with those we care about. The people who really matter in our lives won't care if it's "wonky" or not, but will appreciate the effort we made for them in our creation. I hope no other "new" quilters were scared off by such purists, for lack of a better term. I love the look of both traditional and modern quilting and the fusion of the two. Just go for it!

Angie said...

Matched points? How boring! I decided I wanted to make art quilts about 13 years ago. I'd never made any type of quilt and only knew the most basic sewing. I just started sewing. My quilts were definitely not great technically, but it ignited my interest in all quilting.

Johanna said...

Word of advice to pass on to the "master quilter' (read: Old School!): If they don't encourage,embrace, and accept the next generation of quilters then eventually there will be no more shops and guilds. I imagine when machine quilting became popular the old school hand quilters probably said that machine quilting was not real quilting. For some people, it is hard to accept change.

I am a self taught quilter and quilt shop owner who doesn't always like to follow patterns. I am the biggest cheerleader to customers that come in and WISH they could quilt. I tell them they can. If they can cut and basic sew, they can quilt. I show them my lazy bindings and mismatches on what looks like a nice finished quilt. Everyone can quilt.

Do what you love! No one is giving you a grade. No one's well being is depending on the outcome of a quilt. Love your fabrics and love your projects. The modern, the wonky, the scrappy - it's the future of quilting!!

Great topic! Thanks for letting me put in my 2cents!

Angie said...

WOW Jacquie...I am amazed at the response to your post! This blog and many others have been a wonderful source of information to me. I grew up with quilting grandmothers. I remember going to "quilting bees" where the ladies would work on the quilt as it was suspended from the ceiling...only hand sewing (!) I was not interested at all in quilting until I started finding the Modern Quilts on blogs...I am lucky to have a wonderful Modern Quild Guild in my city. And don't get me wrong....I learned alot from this teacher but if I had to consistently do that for a quilt I wouldn't...it just doesn't interest me. I thank Jacquie so much for her inspiration. She is a gem! :)

carol said...

I, too, took a class from a "professional" when I first started quilting in August of 2008. That was also the month I discovered Flickr and the marvelous quilters there. I, like your Angie, told the teacher of the flickr quilters and she poo-pooed me too. It was only until 3-6 months later, when I brought in my "wonky" colorful quilts in to the shop to show the employees and owners that I got my "just due". It didn't take but a year, and now her employees are coming to me for inspiration and guidance in doing the fun, wonky, liberating stuff that makes quilting really fun.

Amelia Quilter said...

Jacquie,

What a lovely comment you gave to Angie. I hope this encourages her to do her own thing, move forward and have fun with her quilting!

Anonymous said...

The reason I quilt is because I love. I love fabric, I love making something with my hands, I love each person I'm creating for, I love getting lost in the process. I love seeing the finished product. I love giving it away. I also love the friend who gathered me into her circle of quilting.

Sharon said...

Amen!

I think there's room for all types of quilting, and I understand that as a teacher, the Master Quilter had a certain agenda and was trying to teach the basics. But she shouldn't crush a beginner's enthusiasm. I hope that Angie won't let this stop her from quilting. Sometimes you have to put up with learning the "rules" so that you can break them!

Quilting in the Pines said...

Yu go girl! I totally agree! My heart hurts for Angie! I wish I could sit by her at a class and let her know that quilting isn't always perfect, BUT it is ALWAYS FUN!!!

Now I am Ranting!!!!

Sarah Craig said...

It so hurts my heart to hear about "teachers" saying things like that - I had a woman tell me the other day that she couldn't sew, and she had proof - she went to a class, and the "teacher", who had been sewing for 27 years, looked at the jam my friend made in her machine and told her that she had NEVER seen anything like that in 27 years of sewing! Ok, I want to know - did she have her eyes closed all those years?

If we don't accept change, the art of quilting will die. I for one would hate to see that! So quilt on - and encourage new quilters and sewers every chance you get!!

Anna said...

love this post, so great to hear that she at least contacted you and told you her story. Jeepers, what are people thinking sometimes when they say stuff like that to people that are just learning!!! Plus it just really makes them sound ignorant in the end.

sewkatiedid said...

Hallelujah.

sewkatiedid said...

I had another thought about this....I've learned so much from my students. A flexible mind is part of staying young...oh yeah, a flexible body doesn't hurt either.!

beachiesews said...

I'm thinking I hope she finds a new class to take and follows what excites her! This summer I found wonderful web and blog sites (this one!!!) that have me sewing and quilting in a whole new "wonky way" and I love it! Dream and sew on girl and have fun!

Kucki68 said...

Probably the "master quilter" was one of these "my way or the highway" people and that is unfortunate for a beginner, because you do not have the experience to fall back on to just shake it off. Maybe Angie can check out some beginning quilting books from the library and just get the basics and then just catch Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking and go full throttle.

MightyMom said...

Just tell me who that master quilted is so I can go SPANK HER!!!!!!

Suzanne said...

I'm glad that there are people like you to encourage people like Angie and me. Thank you!

Sarah D. said...

Dear Madame President of the KCMQG,

You Rock!

Your enthusiasm is inspirational.
Your excitement to share ideas, educate, and motivate is infectious.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Those darn quilt nazis. I think some of the older magazines are like that too. So behind the times.

Laura said...

Thanks for a great, encouraging post. I'm new to the craft too and I'm really often very put off by "perfect" quilts. I much prefer the wonky log cabins and funky, arty quilts I see on blogs to the traditional and perfect quilts I see in magazines.

I'm lucky though; having been raised by an amazing sewist, I have some confidence in my knowledge, and my local quilt shop is encouraging and wonderful. In fact upon my first purchase, the lady selling to me said, "it's not going to be perfect. But that's not the point of what you are doing." And she was right. If I wanted a perfect quilt, I could buy one made by a machine.

Anyway, thanks for being a voice of encouragement and passion for the craft!

ktquilts said...

When quilting I find it encouraging to remember, there was only One who was perfect, an I am not Him! Quilting is supposed to be fun, creative, and well let's face it, sometimes we are all a little wonky! ;0)

Thanks for the reminder to encourage other quilters!

Many blessings,

KT

Shannon said...

I love this post. This is where I have been at for so long. I held back thinking I would not be good enough. I have been sewing for years and feel in love with quilting about three years ago. Over that time I have learned to love every part of quilting from getting the fabric to cutting, sewing, sandwich making, qilting, binding. I love it all. I am teaching my 16 year old daughter to quilt. She loves it. As she was comparing herself to me that is when we had "the talk", LOL! I told her that to me quilting is a beauty from a distance. If you get up close and start nit-picking the faults then you have missed the journey. I hope your new blog friend will keep going. Just because you claim to be a "master" does not me you know everything.

Tonya R said...

oh that is sooo sad. so sorry to hear that even now that kind of thing happens. my advice is to make friends in the online community, and find out if there are others living anywhere near you to have fun in person with. And read GOOD books by/about the Gee's Benders, Gwen Marston, etc.

Why Not Sew? said...

I'm sorry to hear that Angie was discouraged! I agree with you completely. I really wish there weren't quilt snobs out there. Quilting means different things to different people, art, expression, freedom, relaxation, gratification, release, happiness...to say that quilters only do that because they can't quilt correctly is hogwash!

Poppyprint said...

amen, sister.
I'm busy trying to unschool myself so I can be more free from the 'rules' of quilting!

Summer :) said...

Bravo! Bravo!!

What a stuck up thing to say! I am a younger quilter and I learned the basics, luckily, from my grandmother. I think a true master is one that goes beyond what has already been created and be willing to take risks to help evolve her art. Other wise the creation in creativity goes FLOP out the window and lands SPLAT!

Angie, I hope you feel all the support you have to continue to quilt despite this little glitch! Quilt on!! Quilt on!!

:) :) :) :)

henny said...

Great post, Jacquie!!
I just imagine what would the 'master' said when she saw my 'unperfect puckery quilt' that I sew without walking foot (but I adore so much, because it was my first piece in my journey exploring quilting), haha...
I just can't understand there's still a teacher like that in this modern era :( I bet she had never explored anything in quilting!

Mary said...

Geez...somebody better tell those Gees Bend ladies they don't know how to quilt! The fun part of quilting is being open to new ideas...it is a dynamic activity. Thanks for sharing!

Tree Dellinger said...

Fie on Angie's instructor for being a stick in the mud! The instructor should have encouraged a student for wanting to learn something different, and it sounds like the instructor could have learned a lot herself.

My very first "real" quilt was a wonky log cabin that I made just last spring. And I self-taught myself the technique based on the tutorial you posted on April 5, 2008. My quilt isn't perfect (you can see a picture of it on the link to my blog below), but I love it dearly and have gotten many compliments on it. If anything it's inspired me to make other quilts, and I keep learning and improving with each one. I can now say that I'm a fourth generation quilter in my family, and that makes me proud.

http://treedellinger.blogspot.com/2010/03/new-quilt.html

Cheryl Arkison said...

How sad. But a testament to modern quilting that she found and came to you. Like anything new, the old guard is resistant to change. Angie came across the master. And frankly, no matter how often I quilt, I'm not sure I want to be known as a master. It implies I have nothing left to learn.

lanadunk said...

Just that comment about our mistakes being our badges of honor...that has encouraged me enough to finish a quilt i was making for myself and was too afraid to quilt it...cause i didn't want to mess it up...
WhOOOO HOOOOO!!!! I know what I will be doing this Labor Day weekend!
:)

Nancy said...

Jacquie, there's only one thing you said I would disagree with, you ARE a Master Quilter! And Angie, it's like anything else in life, you can't listen to the nay sayers. There's always someone there trying to shoot you down. Dance to your own drummer baby! And in Modern Quilting, you have an entire percussion section dancing and playing with you!

pioneervalleygirl said...

This makes me crazy on so many levels. I'm an educator, as well as a quilter, and I can say this person may know something about quilting technique, but they clearly know little about teaching. Interest and creativity counts a heck of a lot more than perfect points in my book, thanks for reminding us all.

Delilah said...

That is why I have never been to a quilting class! Just pick up some fabric and start sewing! And I agree with pioneervalleygirl...when a quilt catches my eye it is not because all the points match (??hello??) It's the colors and creativity and beautiful fabrics that make a quilt.

piecemealquilts said...

I completely support quilters in their desire to make quilts that they love, regardless of their personal style. The "master quilter" was wrong to try to quash Angie's interest in a particular style just because it didn't appeal to her.

However, I believe beginning quilters can really benefit from learning the "rules" and basic traditional block construction and applique methods. Once you understand the how and the why you have a much better base for creativity.

I love a good wonky log cabin, or a string quilt, or a rectangle quilt, but I am disappointed when I see new quilters making the same quilt over and over because that's all they ever figured out how to do. Your points don't have to match, your logs don't have to be straight, your blocks don't have to be the same size - if you don't want them to. But if you do, it's nice to know how. Same goes for using triangles or piecing curves.

If I were giving advice to Angie, I'd suggest she take advantage of the master quilter's knowledge and learn as much as she can about traditional precision quilting. It's just a class - it will end, and when it does, she will have a foundation from which to grow. In the meantime, she can check out blogs of modern quilters and start thinking about their construction methods. She might be surprised to find that she did get something out of the class, after all.

Kay H said...

Embrace the Wonky..and forge ahead. The idea here is to have FUN!!!

Anonymous said...

The old guard is rarely garceful about sharing the spotling but the fact is that there is room for all types of quilting and sewing. I suggest looking for modern guilds in your area, even if you have to drive a bit to find one, it will be worth it. Hang in there.. show them you have the stuff and soon you will feel right at home in the quiliting world.. I know I have.. even if I am the only one in the room with a tatoo :)

Maddie
www.longarmvirgin.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

The old guard is rarely garceful about sharing the spotling but the fact is that there is room for all types of quilting and sewing. I suggest looking for modern guilds in your area, even if you have to drive a bit to find one, it will be worth it. Hang in there.. show them you have the stuff and soon you will feel right at home in the quiliting world.. I know I have.. even if I am the only one in the room with a tatoo :)

Maddie
www.longarmvirgin.blogspot.com

Mego said...

right on! I took a quilt class with a 'master' and she too was VERY technical...my way or the highway. I was leaning over to help my sister who was having a little trouble and she told me SHE was teaching the class and I didn't know what I was talking about. I walked out. Didn't make a big deal about it, just packed up and left. Surprisingly, the quilt shop called me, asked me detailed questions and told me this was not the only time this had happened. I said the same thing as you...if you don't let people quilt in their own way then how does quilting GROW?

Sandy said...

Love this post and all the comments. You are so right, Angie, quilt on and quilt your way. Who knows, someday you might be an EXPERT that inspires the next generation of quilters by doing it your way.
p.s. I love Wonky and love wonky quilting, thanks so much for sharing your wonky tutorials. Keep them coming.

Regina said...

I don't understand people like that. I've been there! After one trip to some "good" quilt stores I left in tears. They were so rude to me. I had to rush home to the comfort of a local quilt shop. The owner gave me a hug and kept me encouraged.

It's like if you haven't been quilting for 10 years or more then you shouldn't shop but hello...how do you get there if you don't start now? I also have to say that I recently pulled out the blocks to the first quilt I ever started but haven't yet finished. None of the blocks are supposed to be "wonky" but most are and I still LOVE it. Why couldn't she mention that? That you can make mistakes and still love what you make? I also was able to realize just how much I've grown in such a small amount of time.

Also she should know that if she isn't surrounded by quilters then chances are only SHE would even notice any mistakes. I recommend visiting lots of quilting blogs. The tutorials out there are amazing and everyone is so friendly! It beats getting beat down in person by an uncaring "master".

Sharon said...

I took a Longarm class from a "very famous" quilter who basicly told the class if they weren't religious, they wouldn't be good at the machine. Needless to say, she was never asked back to teach at the show. Do what floats your boat and to heck with the rest

Christina said...

Well said! I am always so discouraged when I hear people talking about quilting , such as this "master quilter". I always say, there is no right or wrong way, sometimes just easier and faster. Nothing in life is straight and perfect, why should our quilts be? I agree with you, let's not discourage the new quilters, let's get them excited and trying - we all know that we love our seam rippers.

DangAndBlast! said...

My only quilt-class experience was somewhat the opposite! I understand that many people enjoy making the "wonky" style, and many people enjoy the look of it; I prefer the traditional style for myself. So I asked the teacher for help/hints for making my points match etc., and she said basically that I need to get over my hangups and nobody does old-fashioned things like that anymore! So, I left, and checked out some books from the library for help instead, and went to my mother, who gave me nice tips about measure-twice-cut-once and all that. Heh -- goes to show you, tolerance of differences needs to go both ways! (Disclaimer: not to say in the least that yours doesn't. Just that hers didn't!)