Most of us have met new quilters looking for advice to get them started in the wonderful world of quilting. We all love sitting down and talking with them to share our knowledge and encouragement, well, I know I do.
I’ve had the opportunity to help a few novice quilters make their first quilt. It’s so much fun seeing them when they get it done; seeing them take pride in their work is worth the effort put in helping them to complete their quilt. A few days after they are finished they’ll call asking for help planning their second quilt. Normally I say: “Yes, but with one condition”. The condition is that if they want to do a third quilt, I choose it! The reason for this is: if they make it to quilt number three, chances are good they’ll continue making quilts for years, and if this is the case I want them to learn all the the basic skills of quilting. The number three quilt I always choose for them is a sample block lap quilt.
Over the past few years I’ve noticed that many newer quilters don’t know how to draw a template, make consideration for the seam allowance, sew Y seams and many other little tricks that we should all learn from the beginning. I know that there will be some out there that will argue: why learn all of this when there’s software out there to help you draft a quilt and templates as well as calculate the required fabric amounts? Some will also say: why learn appliqué? Why learn that? Those are skills that I’ll never use.
While I agree that some learned skills may rarely (or never) be used again I also know that many will. Personally, I appreciate the workmanship that goes into hand applique but if you ask many of my quilting friends, they’ll tell you: Paul does not like to hand applique. These friends know me well. Whether or not you enjoy a skill; you still need to know how to do it. While participating in past block exchanges and round robins, occasionally, there was a need to do hand applique. Did I like doing it? No, but I was happy I knew how so I could do my best for the recipient of the finished piece.
Writing this reminds me of something I read not too long ago. It was about a school that didn’t want the students to learn to write in cursive. I wondered: had that school considered the impact that decision would have on the students’ continued education and even their careers? On the same note, if we’re going to teach the new quilter how to quilt, let’s show them how to do it from step one.
We would be doing them an injustice showing them only a book or some software. They need to know hands-on, how to correct errors should any come up while they’re working on their projects.
Come back next week for Elaine Theriault’s sewing machine review of the Husqvarna Viking Designer Epic!