How do you become a really good quilter?
I’m asked this question so often about how to become a good, brilliant or proficient quilter, whether it’s within an in-person quilting class, at quilting shows, quilting guild groups or almost anywhere in fact.
It’s a question that has great concern to so many people.
It’s actually a really easy answer, but most people try to over think it.
Practice, Practice and then more practice.
This is not the magic answer that many people want to actually hear, but
believe me there’s no magic wand that’s going to just make it happen.
The only way to become a much better quilter is by sitting in front of your
sewing machine on a regular base, practicing. This can be on charity quilts that you’ve offered to do the quilting on for your guild, which is the same way that many big names quilters originally learnt to quilt on, or you can have some quilt sample sandwiches approx 10 to 12 inches square and every time you start to sew, just spend 15 minutes on these pieces with “doodling” at first.
You can quilt on these pieces several times by first quilting with a light
coloured thread, then next quilt over it again using a mid coloured thread, then maybe a third time using a very dark thread, always ignoring the previous stitching. This just gives you more sewing time on the one piece of fabric, as it’ll just be going in the bin later anyway.
Don’t get too caught up on designs originally, these will come after, but at
first it’s all about working out how to move your fabric and your feet together and speeding up and slowing down when necessary. Just like when you learnt to drive a car, although with quilting you would normally speed up to go around the corners, unlike driving a car.
Hmmmm... Who has ever gone to stop their sewing machine in a hurry
only to press your foot harder on the machines foot as if you were putting your foot on the break in the car??? I know I have, many times over the years... ha ha
The majority of people say that “stipple” is very hard to learn, but I’ve
always taught my students to learn a stipple first. It’s not as hard as you think. Often a mindset is the biggest block you’ll need to overcome when learning anything new. As most people tell you, “a stipple is so hard”, so where does this leave your mindset?
Your mind “thinks and believes” it’s hard.
Think of a stipple like this...it’ just a doodle.
Now I’m not talking about very tiny micro stippling that I regularly do, but just a normal size stipple.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you first start quilting, instead give
yourself praise, and if you feel the sewing is not good, then praise yourself for taking the step to have a go. The first step is so often the hardest step of all.
If you keep putting yourself down, and criticizing your own work, then
you’ll find it so much harder to progress, and you’ll more than likely “give up” and I don’t want you doing that. So always praise yourself and give yourself the praiseworthy that you deserve.
We’re looking for progress not perfection at this stage.
As time progresses, so will your quilting.
They say to learn anything new, you need to practice approx for 10,000 hours.
How many times does a toddler fall and get back up again before they actually walk and then run, how many hours has a musician practiced before they made it big and everyone said ... “they just came out of nowhere, overnight stardom” ... very seldom. You don’t hear the stories of all the thousands of hours and years they’ve been practicing. We all remember the “wax on wax off” from the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, well maybe quite a few of us do... it really isn’t that long ago.... is it?
Wax on, Wax off .... Sew on, Sew more...
With all the above said, I don’t want to put you off from practicing this
brilliant craft of quilting, quite the opposite. I’m here to support you all the way and to cheer you on. I heard Oprah say once that she wanted a yard full of trees like someone she knew but she didn’t have any. So many trees were planted and one day she looked out her window and realised she had a yard full of really big trees. It was about 10 years later and although she’d seen them grow, it was that particular moment, that she really realised that she did in fact have a yard full of trees.
Now if you start practicing your quilting today, somewhere in the future
your quilting will become really brilliant but you don’t always see your own progress until one day waaaay down the track, and you suddenly realise that your now a Brilliant quilter.
So please make a start today, Not tomorrow, not next week... no excuses...
go and spend 10 minutes at your machine today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next etc.
Here’s a fantastic tip
Take your sandwiched 10” square of fabric, choose your favourite thread
and colour, and start just doodling (stipple) for 10 to 15 mins on that square, then on the back of that using something like a permanent marker write the date on it. Put it away somewhere and then in 12 months time, do a similar exercise, But do it before you look at the original one. You may be very very surprised at just how much you’ve grown over the 12 months with just practicing 10 to 15 mins every day. Set the date in your phone for 12 months time. You can also send me a photo of your two pieces and I’ll cheer you on.
One last little tip
Don’t think that you’ll use threads that you don’t like and that’ll get rid of
them, because this’ll give you the worst result imaginable. When you’re using a thread or any medium for that matter that really resonates with you, the colour, the feel, the texture, the results will always be soooo much better.
This is a fantastic excuse and reason to be sitting in front of your sewing
machine. Think of all those fabrics and threads you’ll need to be purchasing?
With regular practice you’ll begin to gain confidence and will be able to see a huge improvement within your quilting.
So I’m very sorry to say, there is no magic wand to making your quilting
improve, other than continual practicing. Just relax and don’t get too caught up in the “fear” of it. Remember you’re just working with a piece of fabric and thread.
I’ll leave you here today with this little quote:
The best preparation for tomorrow
Is doing your best today!
Have the most brilliant, awesome & creative week,
and I'll be back gain next week once again
Ps... to make your quilting sooo much easier you may like to check out the same exact sewing machine extension table that I use with all my quilting work. It's absolutely brilliant, it's big, it's solid, but light at the same time. Click Here Now.
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