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March 29, 2011



Thank you for a well written post. I read the blog post that started it all and I was actually shocked that people (or at least the blog author) were/are so judgmental over what kind of quilts other people are making, if they choose the fabric themselves or buy a collection, intricate advanced patterns or simple ones. Sounds like a prime example of people building themselves up by putting others down. I am all for the "dumbing down" (just the expression makes my skin crawl), however I don't see it as dumb. If jelly rolls and layer cakes makes it easier for busy people to make time for a little sewing, then why not? Is that dumb? Personally I like more contemporary quilts which usually consists of more simple patterns. Guess the uppity quilt police has never heard of the expression "less is more"? Would it ever occur to me to make a negative comment to someone who makes the kind of quilts I don't like? No, the thought would never cross my mind. I just want people to be happy in their own creativity, whatever that may be. Just because something is not in my taste doesn't mean that I can't appreciate their creativity and the work they're putting into it... and why would anyone care what I think anyway? Thank god I have not met many quilt bullies and I hope none of your readers has to deal with them either. Personally, I'm just to old for that kind of $hiiit so I quickly deleted that blog from my list. There's enough commotion in the world... who needs it in the quilting world? Sorry for my ramblings. I like what you wrote.


I read the original blogger's post, which brought up the topic of dumbing down and I laughed until I almost cried, it was that funny. Not fighting words - funny.

I don't think there's a place in quilting for fighting. The original post, once I got past the humor, was thought provoking and I agreed with it 100%. I think a lot of people are choosing to treat her opinion as a chance to "do a blog battle". What a waste of time and effort, IMNSHO.

I also notice that she put her money where her mouth is, by posting one of the most thorough tutorials I've seen on a quilting blog.

I like your blog - and your opinion - and her opinion, but what I really liked best was that the subject brought out each of your stories about how you (and your daughter) began quilting. Your experiences, your thoughts, your aspirations, your fabric choices the quirks that went with your quilts....well, I think you get my point. I, personally, read blogs for people stories and quilt stories.

Let's leave the fighting out of it, pretty please.


Okay, am I the only one who couldn't stop laughing after seeing the caveman picture? I know it was a serious post, but it was so funny trying to read with that face staring at me :) Thanks for making my day! That said, I agree with your post 100%. I also agree that if someone said what I did was "dumbing down" that would be fighting words...not literally...but in a "bring it" kind of way. I love doing simple, mindless quilts sometimes. The recipients still enjoy them, I enjoy making them, and stores love that I bought their kits (gasp a kit!). That doesn't mean I don't love doing hand applique (needleturn, starch method, fusible, and hawaiian), paper piecing (try Dear Jane size), and mixed techniques. My bachelor's in business required me to take high level math, like applied calculus and statistics but do I want to figure out how to change a block size? Noooo thank you and yess thank you Nicole for making me laugh...and inspiring me :)


Um Sophie, no one told YOU that you could sit on Nicole's favorite quilt WHILE you chew her slipper! I swear, it's like having a toddler in the house....


I agree, absolutely! I may never make a complicated, time-consuming quilt. But if I can make a bunch of simple quilts that my friends and family love, that's good enough for me!


Bravo, Nicole! There are lots of reasons why we make "easy" quilts. Maybe it's because we need one right away. Or it's going to a child to be well used. Perhaps it's because your skill level is beginner and you have no quilt mentor to guide you and/or cannot afford to take a class. (That's a whole nother topic - the price of quilt classes anymore. They scare me off for sure.) Whatever the reason, does it really matter? I don't think so. You are creating and you are enjoying yourelf. At least something is being made. Take for instance, your daughter as opposed to a "quilt snob" who only makes difficult quilts that take forever. She made five to the other person's zero.

The important thing is to have fun - and to stop being so critical of our fellow quilters. There are many more important topics out there to worry about other than who makes what.

Also, you never know what that person has on her plate. Although I am retired, I am super busy. My husband had a stroke five years ago and although he is fine, he is physically limited to what he can do. So I clean house, do the yard, clean the garage, do all the heavy work, take care of the car, take care of the dog, run all the errands, etc., etc., etc.. My sister lives near by and has no hobbies and no friends so we do lunch and go shopping to keep her busy. My elderly Mom lives near by so I keep an eye on her and take her to her doctor appointments, which are quite a few as she has skin cancer. Then there is my single daughter with two young boys to help out with baseball practice and other activities. I'm not complaining, I just think people should realise that perhaps something easy is about all some people can do sometimes.

I've said it before, how about a little kindness people!

Thanks for posting about topics that we are all thinking about, Nicole!


Amen to your post, Nicole. No one should be able to define what's acceptable for another's creativity. It's always a very personal journey.

Robin Chapa

My hope is that the "quilt police" that started this "dumbing down of quilting" topic is embarrassed. And not because open-minded quilters are calling her out, but because hopefully it was something she didn't mean to write-- hopefully she was "having a day" and didn't realize how she sounded.

Van Gogh didn't smooth his paint out on canvas, e.e. cummings was not a fan of punctuation, and I like simple quilt patterns. Artists/creative types do the work for the joy, not to "meet someone elses standards". If there is not joy in the process, there is no point (and frankly, "complicated quilts" often look too modern or country for my tastes, so...... ) Anyway, amen to what you said, Nicole.


Nicole, great post! I just had to tell you that my first quilt was made in a class and not knowing any better, my sis in law and I signed up for this gorgeous "Star Spin" or sometimes called "Spinning Star" quilt...king-sized! Like I said, we were both experienced seamstresses, years of making clothing so when we saw the shop display we said OOOOO....AHHHHH, we need to make that. It wasn't until mid way through the class that we were told it was an advanced skills design...HUH??? We just went along fat dumb and happy and didn't have any issues except the final layout. We decided to change ours up a bit, I also added some contrasting borders to the octagon framing border as it seemed too plain. After show an tell the next week, almost every one of the ladies in the class had unpicked their center border to do the same thing I did. Most of these ladies were attending this class for the third time, some for the second and they were experienced quilters but the pattern they said, was just 'to difficult' to get it right the first time. the only first time quilters in the class, my sis in law and I didn't have any problems getting everything to go together smoothly. It had nothing to do with natural talent, nor skill, it was purely because we had never made a quilt top before and because we knew how to sew, and DID NOT know it was a tough pattern, just settled in and followed the directions. It truly is a somewhat difficult pattern now that I have been quilting a while I look at it and wonder how in the world I made it right the first time. Honestly, if I had been quilting for a while I probably would not have tried the pattern. The second quilt I made was so over simple that I got bored with it and it took me 6 months to finish because I hated doing those simple blocks. Now, after quilting for 3 years...well 2 really as last year was completely lost to health problems, made one quilt last year *ugh*. But, I have since learned to enjoy both the very involved and the very simple sides of quilting. As you pointed out so well, they both have their place. Every quilter I know, at some point or another wants to stop what they are doing and make something that will give them 'instant gratification', and I find myself doing a lot of that lately as once again I started this year off with a surgery that will keep me from my sewing machine for several months. So I'm working on stitchery quilt blocks while I wait to reintroduce myself to my sewing machine. My personal feeling about all of this though, is that if you love what your making, simple, or complex, large or small, that is the only thing that matters. I quilt because I find it relieves my stress level incredibly and also serves as a pain reliever when I have flare ups with my medial issues...along with the fact that I just plain love to sew and create. So I say, make anything you want...just LOVE what your working on and don't worry about what anyone else says. By the way, here is the link to a photo of the very first quilt pattern. I hope you will take a peek. *this is not the one I made, it is the pattern used for my first quilt class. Who knew??? LOL Hugs...


Well after reading all about this on various blogs, and kinda the "original post", I'll put MY 2 cents
Ummm, who cares...really, who cares what people are making? Its thier thing, thier choice, none of our business...
I've been quilting for 11 years. I started out actually with complicated blocks cause I didn't know I was supposed to begin with simple ones! lol...
I find myself going towards the eaiser ones now. People just don't have much time, and sometimes wanna sew mindlessly..So? who cares...
All the "simple" patterns I see the younger designers selling seem siily to ME to even need a pattern, but so what, good for them to have a businees they enjoy. At least the art of quiltmaking is continuing on!
I want people to USE my quilts, so I often use a simple pattern..nuff said


I haven't seen the article that caused this response, but you are dead on. You have a very articulate way of expressing yourself, and you are 100% right! We all start somewhere. Thanks for sharing.


Amen! Well said, Nicole. I get so frustrated when people call simple quilting "dumbing down". If you are happy, and enjoying what you are doing, then you are experiencing quilting to the fullest. Who cares if it is a double wedding ring or 20 jelly roll strips sewn together and quilted. As long as you love it, it's perfect.


At first when this "dumbing down" and other business went down, I thought to myself, "wow, this is silly and these people have far too much time in their hands." BUT after the dust settled, I found myself feeling kind of bad about some of the things that were said. Oh and I only felt bad for about a minute. :-) Were these people talking about the kind of quilting that I do and enjoy so much??? Probably. BUT I could care less. Thank God for Eleanor Burns because I wouldn't be quilting today if it wasn't for her simplicity. I love this quilting journey I'm on and it's MY journey. Everyone has to start some place. Thanks for the great post.


Well said Nicole, looks like a lot of people agree also. I just love to play with fabric. I don't mind if it is big pieces, small pieces, triangles, squares, curved, whatever. I have made Turning Twenty and Yellow Brick Road, etc., and I absolutely love pinwheel designs. All simple patterns, but they make beautiful quilts and make the recipients smile. What could be better than that? Disappearing Nine Patch is my go-to favorite for charity quilts. I have also made more complicated quilts, including a hand-pieced Double Wedding Ring and I have another in progress. If I am going to spend that much time on a complicated quilt pattern, I want to be sure that it has a home where it is appreciated.
There will always be the purist quilters and snobs as some have said. I am in awe of the work I see when I go to major quilt shows, but I have no desire to be a competition quilter. I think the majority of quilters just want a hobby to enjoy and share with others. The simple patterns fill a need for people with busy lives. If not, there would not be a market for them and pattern companies would not be publishing them if there were not a market!

Becky in Georgia

Well said! Thanks for eloquently stating your viewpoint. I agree with you:)The term dumbing down is so harsh. There are times when I sawing with my quilting friends that we can only do mindless stitching. We talk too much to do anything complicated. That time together is a treasure.


I'm happy for the people who are happy making simple quilts, but the people who are making simple quilts and complaining about it frustrate me. I've heard a few variants on "I'm scared to do anything involving triangles" (has been sewing squares/strips together for 20 years) and "I can't afford to take classes so I will never get to do such and such."

There absolutely is a point where your attitude about what's hard and what's easy is part of the problem, and you've not only built your own mental blocks, but you're trying to build them for the next generation, too.

badlands quilts

I never read the original post that started this all, and I read this post yesterday morning but one thing I thought of last night was as anyone addressed the actual quilting?

These simple, modern & not perfectly pieced quilts that must be driving this person mad, were probably quilted by the maker - not sent out to someone else.

I think we should just rejoice in the popularity of our hobby and support each other and learn from our differences rather than tearing down.

Wendy P

Here's my view of it:

the original blog that started all this ruckus in the hen house: just jealousy.

on dumbing down of quilting: only someone without full time employment would have the time to actively advance their skills. The rest of us working women (and men) need the creative outlet from everyday stress, and simple or complex depends on how much free time and money we have to invest.

on everyone making the same pattern: I believe a lot of us can only dream of having fellow quilters to sit with in person, like the old time quilting bees. many of us are isolated from friendship and fellowship in person. making the same quilt online is a virtual quilting bee, if you ask me.

finally: anyone who feels the need to criticize other crafters, especially in hard economic times, whether those crafters are doing it for a living or for fun, is just a miserable person who needs therapy of the couch kind.


Has anyone seen unfinished quilts in antique stores and flea markets? Some of these quilts look like beginner quilters trying to make a quilt way too complicated for them. I wonder if this person just gave up completely and never tried to piece another quilt? How much better they learn on a "dumbed down" pattern and enjoy the process without becoming frustrated. I know, that was me in 1979. I saw a quilt pattern called Turkey Tracks in a needlecraft book. I had no one to advise me and you can guess what happened. I was undaunted however, and now have made more more quilts over the years than I can count. I don't shy away from a challenge, but neither do I turn up my nose at the simple quilts, they give as much warmth and joy as any complicated quilt. Your family only feels the love you put into it and thats the way it should be.

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