There is a lot of words thrown around by quilt makers that might leave an outsider or new quilter scratching their head. The What Is Series is where I tackle those topics.
View all articles in the series here.
If you have something that you wanted covered, please let me know by contacting me here.
Let me first start off by saying that I love the quilting community and find on a daily basis it to be encouraging and supportive. I know of no kinder community and I love being a part of it. There have been moments however, when something happened that I did not feel encouraged or supported. I just felt lowly.
Your clash with the quilt police can be one of those eye rolling moments where someone just annoyed the heck out of you with their “picking” at your finished quilt, you move on quickly and pay them no mind OR it can be something that makes you cry, hurts your feelings, gives you self doubt, makes you self conscious, or makes you completely give up ever making a quilt again.
When you read this post, please think of this as a “gentle education”. Please do not misconstrue. I am saying all this with kindness, to not attack anyone, even though I speak bluntly (I am not thinking of anyone while I write this). I just want women to support each other instead of tearing each other down.
What exactly is the Quilt Police a.k.a QP?
You probably know exactly what the QP is, but just in case you are completely new to the whole quilting world, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
The quilt police is anyone who has anything negative to say about your quilt that hasn’t been asked their opinion.
If you are asking a quilting friend what she thinks of your quilt and she tells you, “I’m not crazy about the brown”, or “It’s busy,” or anything else, you are NOT having a moment with the quilting police. You asked her opinion and she gave it to you.
If you post a picture of a quilt to social media, bring a quilt to a guild meeting, or show your work to a quilter friend and she says anything negative such as: Your points don’t line up, the orange and red are clashing, why did you go with that print, you did this all wrong, or ANYTHING that makes you want to take your quilt and go home, I am sorry, but you are having a moment with the quilting police.
Custom Bundle includes 18 prints
44/45 Wide, 100% Cotton
Collection: KiwiFabric Custom Bundle
Do not let somebody make you feel badly about your work?
Lemme just tell you that the fact that you just created a handmade quilt is a beautiful thing. I don’t care what it looks like. No quilt is perfect.
We are all at different places on our quilting journey. Can you really compare a quilt of someone who has been making them for twenty years with someone who only recently started? Can you compare tastes? I don’t think so.
And by the way whose points line up on their first quilts? Nobody.
You will learn what you like and what you don’t like. Your fabric combos will get better. Your sewing will get more confident. You will find your rhythm and things will come easier. If you want to become a master quilt maker, you will. If you want this to just be a relaxing and carefree hobby, it will be.
And wherever you are on this journey, be there.
Finishing a quilt is not the grandest part, making it is. The actual pushing of fabric through your machine, the choosing fabrics or colors, the placement of your blocks, the joy you feel when you accomplish each of these steps. When the quilt is finished what do you do? You start another one! That’s because you love MAKING quilts, not necessarily having them (although, I do love a nice stack of quilts 😉 ). So if one side of your finished quilt curves a bit, let it be and love it anyway.
I have had some really hurtful words said to me about my quilts in the past, some when I first started, and some very recently. This happens to all of us. Everything under the sun has been said. I’ve been critiqued about my quilting, my fabric choices, my methods. I have dealt with smugness, with know-it-alls, and with just big meanies.
Sometimes I think people are being petty. Sometimes I think they seriously have no clue about how their words are coming across. Maybe they don’t even know they are being a QP?
How to not be a QP?
This is really, really easy. Keep your mouth closed. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything <—–golden rule, always true.
Let’s set up a scene: You have been quilting for thirty years, your momma quilted, your grandmother quilted, quilting is in your blood. You know everything about it. Your quilts are the most beautiful quilts in all of the land. Every other quilter out there should be coming to you for advice. But they aren’t……
This does not mean you should tell a new quilter what she/he did wrong. This does not mean you should give unsolicited advice. You should not roll your eyes or shake your head smugly.
Instead of pointing out what is so obviously wrong with the quilt in your opinion, try saying something positive like:
- Where did you find that gorgeous fabric?
- I’m so glad that you are making quilts.
- I’m so glad that quilting will not die with my generation.
- Isn’t finishing a quilt the best?
You have been quilting for years, but this might not be true for someone else who does not know everything there is to know. They are learning. Do you really want to cut somebody down before they barely have begun? Be the quilter you needed when you first started. Be encouraging. Be supportive. This will make the other quilter feel good and it will also make you feel good.
Here’s another biggie! Just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t make it wrong / ugly / eye roll worthy / a moment for you to insert your more quality tastes.
Guess what? I like busy. I like raw edges or anything that creates texture. I like some wonkiness. I like the “hand” look.
Just because you don’t like what I like, does not mean there is anything wrong with me. It does not make your quilts better than anyone else’s.
A short story I’ve mentioned before…
This past December I met an older woman who was fascinated that I made quilts. She acted like it was the most impressive thing for me to be my age and make quilts. I didn’t bother to tell her that there was a whole army of quilt maker’s just like me, I let her go on.
Then she told me that when she was much younger she had tried to learn to make quilts, even finished a whole quilt top. She said she was at church and it was a sort of craft night where all the women got together. She brought her quilt and was hand quilting it.
Another quilter walked up to her and told her that she would need to unpick all of her stitches since they were too long and uneven. They just wouldn’t do!
The woman telling me the story said she was so embarrassed and so down about the whole thing that she never finished that quilt and never made another one.
You do not want to be the cause of someone giving up. Unless of course, you are just a big meanie.
Golden advice indeed. I know the quilt police would be having a fit with some of my quilts, but I love the process, I love the result, and really the people I make them for don’t look that carefully or realise what little errors there are in them.
I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Agreed and thank you.
Beth LaMotte says
Sharon T says
Well said. I have seen many quilts that are not my taste and/or not well made, but feel it’s important to say something kind and truthful. No matter what skill level or taste, we all thrive on kindness and simple recognition.
I like that. ?
Victoria Bonnell says
Melanie, I love what you do. Glad you share with us. I really appreciate it. You make me think outside the box. Thank you so much for my oil bag. I love it so much it is fabulous as are you!!
Finished is better than perfect .