Last year in March a blog post came out regarding “The Dumbing Down of Quilting” and I responded in my podcast from the viewpoint of being a beginner quilter. I haven’t listened to that episode lately but I can vaguely remember not agreeing with what she said because I thought quilters of all levels should be accepted and be celebrated for quilting no matter what they feel like doing.
I still feel that way to an extent but I must also add that lately I’ve noticed that some quilters seem to be rushing to finish quilts without any plan of design, rhyme or reason except be able to say they finished a quilt and to share photos. Once you see the 20th quilt that looks the same as all the others it makes me wonder, “What’s the point?” mixed with emotions of why can’t I finish quilts that fast?
I wonder if anyone else feels this unspoken Pressure to Finish?
Sometimes it feels like there is an invisible competition in the quilt blog world of who can finish the most quilts in a week. I know my time limitations just like anyone else. Could I get more quilts done in the time I have to sew each week? Sure, if I dumbed down my design to large squares and rectangles. Would I be as happy with those finishes as the more intricate ones? Probably not.
I’m the quilter that sees the craft as more of an art. If I get a piece of fabric no matter how new or old I want to do it justice. I don’t want to just cut into it and put it with all sorts of other stuff that may or may not look good to “get a finish”. Why spend $8-12 a yard on fabric if you aren’t going to really put some work into the design of how it ends up?
I’m constantly trying new techniques and learning new ways to improve how I quilt. I want to enhance my quilts both with the design, the fabric and the final quilting that goes into it. If it takes me over a year to finish a quilt but it looks fantastic in the end why do I feel guilty that it took me so long? So here is my word of advice:
Don’t Be a Lazy Quilter!
There will be times in your life that churning out quilts full of four patches and simple squares are necessary because of that surprise baby shower or wedding shower. But for the quilts you are doing for you I recommend the following things:
Try at least one new technique Yes, attempt something new in each quilt! Practice new techniques with scrap fabrics and then incorporate it into a project. Your new technique might take you in a whole new direction that you never thought possible.
Improve on the techniques that you have Work on keeping your 1/4″ seam as accurate as possible. Cut with better accuracy! Maybe improve on the way you do your borders or binding. Do something to improve the skills you currently have.
Plan your quilting design The difference between a good quilt and a great quilt can be the actual quilting that is done on the top. Some quilts call for a simple design that is toned down so the fabrics and pattern shine through. Some quilts have simplistic fabrics but can really shine if some intricate quilting is done in various areas. Don’t give up just because it’s one more thing to do before the quilt is finished. Give it some thought. It will be worth the time you take.
Label it – no matter how small Labeling a quilt is important so make it a habit to put a label on your quilt even if it takes some extra time to do so.
Take a class Education is useful with any hobby or job because you will always learn at least one new thing to apply to the rest of your quilting. New techniques, rulers, fabrics and other materials are being incorporated into quilting every day. You will get a fresh perspective
Don’t feel guilty about taking longer to finish a project than someone else! Quilting isn’t a race even if you’re working on a jelly roll race quilt! Some of us have kids, an office to go to every weekday, quilt guild responsibilities, husbands, pets, a household to take care of – these things take time! It is perfectly understandable that your lap quilt took you 6 months to complete. Don’t feel guilty for having a life outside of quilting. There are ways to make the most of your quilting time but you do what feels right for you.