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March 29, 2011



Great Post Nicole!
After talking with a friend of mine the other night about a new fabric line we both love, I felt like I did when I was a girl...we had been silly and giggly and it felt awesome. The older I get the less super exciting events come by.
So what if I choose to make a quilt just like one I found on someones blog. It brought me joy, it will bring someone else joy and guess what? I received a comment from the pattern designer and she was excited to see someone make her brought her JOY!!!!

Diane Linford


I believe we went through the same evolution of quilting mentors! No matter how "simple" a quilt, we can still make it a beautiful work of art.




I couldn't agree more with everything you said and I think I have something else to add to the virtue of simple patterns (eg., Turning Twenty and Yellow Brick Road). Some of the fabric collections available today are gorgeously stunning. I love a pattern like Yellow Brick Road when I just want to have a quilt that embraces a whole yummy collection of fabric. No little pieces to lose the design in and no complicated geometrics to detract from the pattern. I don't think that's dumbing anything down. It's just a great concept for featuring great fabrics. And, as a quilter who spends way more time working the day job than she likes, give me the quicky project anytime. Often, that is all that stands between me and insanity.


I appreciate your comments so much! The post that started this controversy a week or so ago upset me so much that I wouldn't even comment and knew if I posted on it I would turn into someone who rants on and on and on and sounds like a crazy woman. :) I don't know where she got the criteria she set for a beginner quilter but I just kept thinking "oh no, I've told all the beginner quilters I've taught that there are no quilt police and I was they are!" We don't need labels - we're all quilters. Period. We do what we love and unless we put our quilts in a juried show they shouldn't be judged by others, just applauded! Okay I'm stopping now. :) blessings, marlene

Judy C in NC

I quilt because I love it and I can. It will always be my decision to make a simple or complex quilt - with so much information available to us now, it is up to us what we take in and what we filter out. My friend told the story - at Christmas she had her quilt over the railing from her loft and her SIL saw it and said, "You really do need to get a job if that is all you are doing." We really hashed that episode to death. You just have to "consider the source" and move on. I love my quilting and quilting friends. Judy C IMHO

Deb A

Honestly, does it all really matter? I've been quilting since 1999, don't consider myself an expert by any means. Have I pieced easy to intermediate/advanced quilts, yes. Have I taught others how to start quilting, cut fabric, piece, bind a quilt, sure. Are there times when I want to do a quilt that I can finish in a weekend or week without a lot of thought, absolutely. Does that make me any less of a quilter, no. It would be a really sad world if we all quilted exactly the same, had the same style, color likes/dislikes, etc. So, lets all forget about it and continue doing something that we have a true passion for, or really enjoy. Thanks for your comments, and can't wait to see your Eventide next week...and still waiting to see what you've done with the rose colored fabric...

Barbara Anne

Amen, indeed!

We all started somewhere and with some simple project. The sense of accomplishment was AMAZING when that project was finished. I'm teaching AMIL to quilt and what I tell her at every astonishing quilt we see is that the quiltmaker was at one time a beginner like she is. Then we look for the block units in the amazing quilt so she can see there are elements in many quilts that she can already make!

With each project, we choose how simple or complicated our new quilt will be. Even early quiltmakers had that choice: a quilt for use or one to be saved for Sunday when the preacher came for dinner?

The joy for me is the unlimited creativity that quiltmaking gives me: colors, fabrics, pattern, fabric placement, borders, size, shape, ad infinitum. Glory be! Freedom!



I agree with you. I think each individual quilter chooses the fabric she uses, the pattern, etc because of her love for that project. Why should anyone else care what the next quilter is if the project is complex enough, etc? Quilting is a process that brings joy, beauty and creativity to our lives. Let's not take the joy away from each other.


Good post. Sometimes I just want to sew so I will find something mindless and make it. Sometimes I need a quilt in a hurry because I decided (at the last minute) that a quilt gift is a good idea. On the other side, sometimes I make a quilt that challenges me and I will work on it for years if necessary. I have been working (off and on) on a quilt with lots of little pieces and I hate little pieces but I am committed to it...and may need to be committed by the time it is finished! I have two quilts I want to make and then I will consider myself a real quilter. One is a large Bethlehem Star (I made a small one) and the other is a double wedding ring. In the meantime, I will make quilts that make me happy and that is good enough for me!


Great post on an interesting topic. My thought: why on earth would I give a rat's a** about what an anymous web lurker thinks regarding a creative project that I want to make? Seems a lot of judgement going on! I teach quilting and the first thing I tell my students (and repeat often) is what my mother told me: the quilt police will not come and knock on your door. It's your quilt. Do what you want.

As I have gotten a few quilts under my belt, I prefer to make them up as I go along using patterns more as guidelines than hard and fast rules. But that being said, I also like kits that can take all the tiresome choices out when I need a brainless project!

I know this is a long and windy comment, but I get upset seeing nice people (I am being optimistic here) being mean to one another through the relative anonymity of the internet.

Enough random judgement. Remember in the beiginning of quilting, it was about utilizing scraps to create an object of necessity. We are so very lucky to have the choices of fabrics and the variety of methods available to continue this beautiful craft and to teach new generations.

Now go quilt! And enjoy it!!


I think, I was sort of opinionated about collections. I felt they took a lot of the challenge out of making a quilt, but that's because I like picking patterns, colours and prints that coordinate. Someone else loves fabric collections because that is not a part of the quilt making process that appeals to them. Not many are good at all things. Some are stronger in some areas than others and so what is hard to me may be quite simple to you and vice I guess I am saying I agree with what you just said. (except you said it much more eloquently)

Funny thing as much as we (quilters) differ in skill, taste, etc. we always find things that give us a kinship. Vive la difference!

Helen in Switzerland

You are so right Nicole! I whole-heartedly agree!

I attended a 3 day workshop with Mary Ellen Hopkins in the early 1990s - yes her quilts were simple, but her energy and enthusiasm was unbounded and she got everybody doing. Simple is good. We can't all make masterpieces all of the time and sometimes there is a huge amount of pleasure in making something simple and just enjoying the process, the fabrics and the colours.

I never thought I'd see the day - but there really are quilting snobs around. Shame on them I say!


OH yeah!! Thank you so much for this post...I feel so much the same...quilting gives me such joy, and the friendships and shared fun of quilting with people making the same quilt(or not) is just wonderful! It doesn't matter if I am working on the simplest of designs or the most complex applique. I recently went to a huge quilt show...and quilting is soaring to new heights, let me tell you!!


Very well stated and the commenters so far have really reinforced your ideas. Life is way to short to worry about upsmanship, keeping up with The Joneses or reaching someone else's standards for quilts. A year or so ago I saw Lisa's (Stashmaster) "Cindy Lou Who" Schnibble on her blog. It was exactly what I wanted and I shamelessly searched the web for a fat quarter bundle & yardage of e-x-a-c-t-l-y the
s-a-m-e fabric she used!! And, guess what? I made TWO of for my friend and one for myself. We both used them as table toppers this past Christmas and the 'Quilt Police' didn't ring either of our doorbells! end.of.rant.

Sherry V.

My DH (who is also a quilter) and I were just talking about the "dumbing down" effect last week.

IMHO there has been a lot of it seems that alot of what is being designed today is based on 2 1/2" strips (or layer cakes, candy bars, etc.)....and I can't tell you how many times I've seen quilt patterns that are exactly the same (but in different colors) and are copyrighted by different people.

That is what frustrates me ---- there really doesn't appear to be anything "new" presented to we long-term quilters.

Granted, my initial quilts were made with templates....and the quilt designers today seem to not use them.

While I'm all for beginning quilt designs (I teach beginners quite often) I don't think every quilt needs to be based on what the fabric manufacturers put out --- like the jelly rolls, etc.

When I decide that I want to make a quilt I find myself going back to the old books that I have and either using templates or figuring out how to rotary cut the designs.

I still hand piece the more complicated blocks, but have started to use my sewing machine quite a bit. And hand quilting is always my first choice.

Since these "phases" have come & gone quite often in the last 25 years that I have quilted I'll just be patient & wait for more intricate, less "hurry up & get it done" designs --- or I'll just keep going back to my library to see what our foremothers did first.

Laura Tawney

It's an interesting idea the "Dumbing down of Quilting". I guess I never would have thought of that concept thank heavens! I love the fabrics, tools, patterns, thread, and everything that relates to making a quilt, bag, or gift item. I still want to be Jinny Beyer! Sometimes I buy a kit because I love the look of the quilt and don't want to go to the work of searching for the exact fabrics because I love the look of it and that's what drew me to it. Other times I want to play in my fabric and pull it all together myself.

My day job and then having a large family with lots of grandkids does not allow me a lot of quilting time and sometimes I need something that I can just sew to have the experience. I was so stressed last week from work but on Thursday and Friday I had a wonderful 2 days of taking a class from Kathy McNeil in WA at her home studio with a welcoming group of women who were all new to one another. It was heaven and so de-stressing. I loved every minute of it. It's what bring me JOY! It's not defined by someone else and what they think. We are so lucky to be surrounded by many choices of fabric, instructors, and bloggers that creativty can take us where ever we want to go:)

Sandy (Strlady)

I hate the Me too response but... yeah, I agree 100%.
I am part of two guilds. I love them both. One is comprised of an 'older' crowd. Quilter's that have been enjoying the craft for many many years and they still love every stitch they put in place. But as older quilters they also are more experienced and, sometimes, can look at a pattern with a bit of disdain because of the simplicity of it. I would never be able to talk about lines of fabrics or designer's with them because they don't follow those trends. They just do thier thing. I love the life experience they bring to the table and enjoy the human aspect of thier company. My other Guild is the Modern Quilt guild. This guild hails a much younger crowd. My daughter dragged me to the first meeting and I sat there SHOCKED at what they were displaying. Borders attached without measuring, blocks that didn't square up... you name the flaw and that is what I saw. I also saw alot of first generation quilters trudging along, trying to find thier place without judgement. They were quilters that were inspired to make something with little to no guidance. They were a fresh set of eyes on a old craft. They inspire me to look beyond the pattern.
I find it amusing that these girls that focus on simple to make designs can see so much more potential than those that 'follow' the rules. Like giving a child crayons and a blank page... they will let thier imagination guide them, but if they get a coloring book they will just learn to color within the lines.
Sometimes, I feel like coloring within the lines but sometimes, we need that blank slate.

When I started quilting, this 'dumbing down' the craft was called beginner level and it was how newbies, like me at the time, could make something beautiful that would encourage me to learn more.

Phyllis in Minnesota

Quilting IMHO has a place for all patterns whether easy or complicated because we are all at a different place with our quilting abilities. I consider myself an intermediate quilter who makes quilts for myself and gifts in that catagory but I also make about 50 quilts a year for Project Linus (sick children in hospitals)and love those quick and easy patterns. Without those quick/easy patterns I would never be able to make 50 quilts a year.
Keep on quilting and enjoying the process whether you have beginners, intermediate or advanced skills!!


I'm headed out the door, but I'll be back to reread because I've been thinking about this A LOT myself.

Mary Lessard

Bravo for this excellent post. It is too easy to criticize so called 'easy' patterns and lament a 'lack of creativity.' I'm saddened to know that once again, there are those who need to build themselves up by putting others down...isn't there room for all skill levels and interests in quilting?


It is so nice to see your post and all these comments. I'm glad to see that by FAR, we are a harmonious group that is accepting of all skill levels. Let the beginners (like me) do the simple stuff and be able to stretch and grow with time. Let the advanced do the really complex and intricate designs to keep them challenged. Hurrah!


I think a finished simple quilt is better than complicated unfinished pieces in a box some where. I made quilts with simple squares of scraps that I use every day with my baby. I think they look nice and are practical. If someone only appreciates intricate self designed quilts then go to judged quilt shows. The important thing to me is that I'm sewing and doing something I love. And if I can give a simple quilt as a gift even better. Thanks for addressing.


Nicely said!!


Very well expressed. I do wonder two things - firstly whether the fact that we all seem busier than ever means we have less time for complicated patterns? Secondly whether the fact that quilting is booming and there is possibly a large percentage of new quilters working on simpler patterns has added to the perception (not necessarily reality) of dumbing down? Here in the UK it happened with knitting a few years back - simple garter stitch scarf patterns and kits appeared everywhere! There were just as many people knitting complex arans and fairisles as ever, but the much bigger proportion of beginners sort of disguised that. In my view, great - more beginners invigorate the craft and means supplies are much more readily available than they were. Maybe, if all the new quilters carry on quilting over the next few years we'll see more intermediate and advanced patterns. As so many have said, there's a place for all levels and styles and it should be fun and pleasure without the snobbery.

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