|The 2nd full size quilt I ever made|
I was thinking this week of when I first start quilting. Everything seemed so new and mysterious. I remember I was so excited by it that it would keep me up at night. Finally, I was on my way to learning how to make those amazing quilts I so admired. Now nearly 30 years later, I wonder if I have done what I set out to do. Now don't get me wrong. There has been a lot going on in the last 30 years
|My first original design inspired by a greeting card|
that quilting has not been my main priority. Really raising a daughter into a responsible young woman was...... Check! Educated well ... Check ! Check!! Sent out into the world...Check! Check!!
But now there should be more "me" time and what do I want to do now. Which is how I got wondering what I would have done different.
Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Quilting
- Learn the basics well .. I wish I had slowed down in the beginning and took a basic quilt class. One that would teach me how to make a scant quarter inch every time, how to bind a quilt properly, how to make points meet, how to clean my sewing machine, how to layer a quilt properly. It seems like over the years, I've been unlearning bad habits that I picked up when I taught myself because "That was close enough". Now I'm not talking perfect but you do to need to know how to do the basics properly - every - time.
- Buy less fabric, Sew More...Yes I think we all should have a decent size stash, but honestly I think I bought enough fabric for 3 lifetimes. Every pretty fabric caught my eye with no thought on how it could be used. Of course now that fabric is $12-14/yd, I'm happy to have a stash I could live with, but if you have a room of fabric it is too much.
- Take More Process Pictures...Of course when I started quilting we didn't have digital photography but still I wish I had more pictures than the finish quilt. This blog has helped but still, it's really useful to have process pictures to help document the construction
- Learn to Dye Fabric...Now in my defense there wasn't a sole around that was teaching fabric dyeing. I actually had to look it up online and follow some well written blogs. Even then it was trial and error. Learning to dye your fabric (as well as paint it) opens up a whole world of possibilities to quilting. Plus what's cooler than saying, "Oh I dyed the fabric myself!"
- Buy A Better Machine Sooner...I don't think every quilter needs an fancy smancy expensive sewing machine, but when you know it's your life work....then BUY ONE. The minute I got my Janome Horizon my life got so much easier. My seams were more precise, a bigger arm opened up quilting opportunities, stitches could be adjusted, and it FMQ like a dream etc etc OMG why did I not do this sooner!
- Don't Make Presents ...No one except another quilter understands the hours that goes into a quilt. I've been lucky. All my quilts have been loved thoroughly and still talked about but still it would have been much less stress and time if I had just bought a nice food basket.
- Take More Art Classes...So along with learning the basics, I wish I had taken some art 101 classes and maybe a beginning drawing class. My life would have been so much easier. All of quilting, traditional and art depend on the principals of design. Once I got a hold of them, critiquing a design became so much easier. I cringe at some of my beginning quilts due to glaring errors just because I didn't know any better.
- Stop Making Excuses for Quilting...Okay, anybody who knows me in real life, knows that I don't shrink from expressing my opinion. Nor am I the type to get bullied or peer pressured. Still there have been times over the last 30 years that I've had to explain away the money I spend, the time I spend, the energy I spend. Why everyone thinks they are allowed an opinion on the subject, I - Do - Not - Know. Luckily, this does NOT include my family. They have been more than supportive of me taking precious time and $$, pursue my passion. Honestly, I think it comes to Creatives. Creatives understand why we do what we do. Others don't.
Wow that list got long fast!!! I don't think a bit of self reflection every 30 years or so is a bad idea.
What Would You Do Different???
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I wish I had learned those earlier as well
Great post, Nina. Life is like that, though. It is only in hindsight we realize what we should have done.
I would like to second your realization about "don't make presents," and add "only for those folks who actually want a quilt." I've seen too many quilters struggle to make a queen or king size quilt for a child/grandchild, only to have the response be tepid. Since the quilters were spending many hours on sewing and paying a few hundred dollars, at least, for the quilting, the gift was costly.
As far as things I wish I had known sooner, I would add "use good batting rather than what's on sale at Joann's, and give serious consideration to wool batting." The quilts I use most have wool batting, which is lighter and warmer than cotton. Quilters I've known have been willing to spend $30 for a ruler they use once, but balk at spending the same amount for better batting.
I give away every other quilt as presents so I have no regrets there. My short time as a quilter is slowing and perhaps coming to an end now that I have a debilitating condition in both hands.
Hi Nina Marie, that is a great list. The one that I really appreciate is the giving quilts as presents. Now that I make less larger quilts, it's much easier to give an art quilt to someone who says OMG!!! I'm learning a lot more about art now but I didn't have time back then, so no regrets there...same as my stash - I was always broke, so the stash may be big, it's still manageable (and we are paying up to $24 per meter now!!!). I'm now into re-purposing old clothes that have quality fabrics in them for the art quilts and frankly that gives me even more pleasure than buying fabric...well almost :-) Thanks for the great linking parties and I'm glad that your life is back to normal. Take care.
What a perfect list. I think if it’s okay, I’ll copy it and gift it to each of my new students 😉
I would add, join a quilt guild, and take quilt classes. I really like the advice--"buy less fabric, sew more". I can't agree with "don't make presents". I made my first quilt for my sister to take to college, my second quilt for my parents and my third quilt for my brother and SIL, and I have no regrets about that. I think a lot of quilters start quilting in order to make a quilt for a loved one, and that is a wonderful motivator and gift.
Hmmm... I have fewer regrets around quilting than I do in other areas of my life! I agree with taking the time to learn the right way to do things and investing in equipment that makes it easier to get good results instead of fighting you every step of the way. Instead of "don't make presents," I think I'd say to be very selective about which people deserve a handmade quilt and which people should just get something off their Amazon wish list or their Bed Bath & Beyond registry. Oh, I know -- I'd add traveling to attend major quilt shows for education and inspiration to my Wish I Knew list. With everything being canceled from the pandemic last year and the Houston competition being under new management or whatever it is, I am keenly feeling those missed opportunities. But then again, the Houston show is always Halloween week for some stupid reason, and if I'd traveled to Houston every year for that quilt show, I would be sitting here regretting that I missed all of my kids' Trick-or-Treating memories!
Carol ...of course you may use the list!!!So glad everyone enjoyed the post.
I too rue that I had no art classes along the way. I've tried to rectify that once I got into art quilting and realized how weak I was in some very basic principles. I might add, draw and sketch more, and not spend so much time trying to figure out what nebulous category a quilt might fall into when I entered contests.
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