Not a quilter.

Today, we’re going to have a story. Years ago—about 9—I decided I wanted to make a quilt. When I was a little girl, my mom had done some quilting and I just knew in my heart that I wanted to hand-sew and hand-quilt a log cabin quilt for my bed. So I mentioned this to my mom and I’m sure she said something about that being a bit ambitious. But off to the local quilt shop I went.

It turns out, hand sewing is a long process. Hand piecing log cabin squares is very long process. Now, certainly, people do it. For my first foray, I was not having much. Talking with my mom, she—I’m sure very gently—suggested that maybe using a sewing machine would be ok. So back to the quilt shop we went. I talked to that same lady and she suggested a “Turning 20″ quilt—a simple pattern with large pieces that wouldn’t take a ton of cutting or piecing. I was sold.

With her help, I picked out all the fabric and she encouraged me to bring the top in when I was finished. Back home I went and got started cutting and piecing. Well, this was just flying along! So much so, that I snuck out and got some more fabric for another quilt. A double Irish chain, I think—I’ve lost the pattern now—with something like 1000 2.5” squares. I cut those out, too.

I finished the quilt top and was so proud. Honestly, so proud. So happy at completing it and so happy with how darned pretty it was.  I happily packed it up, ready to go to the shop and show off my prized work of art. At the shop, someone else was working but I was eager and unfolded my top to show her.

She was not impressed. Not remotely. She pointed out that the points didn’t match up, where the border wasn’t straight, where the seams were wonky. She told me that it would be very difficult to quilt, and I should consider redoing the whole thing.  I was crushed. I remember taking my top back home and feeling so down. My mom was encouraging, but in my head I started thinking that quilting might not be my bag.

Over the next weeks, I slowly packed up the fabric and quilt top and notions, putting them in the closet. Over the years, I gradually realized that I am a knitter and not a quilter. When I moved, I gave all of the stuff to my mom, saying that I’m just not a quilter. A few years after that, I got the itch to sew. Make some curtains or a project bag or something. My mom happily dug out all of my old stuff and I went through it, eventually pulling out that old quilt top.

At that point, last summer, I was a much more experience crafter. I feel like I’m a pretty good knitter and I taught myself all of that, so I feel more confidence in trying new things. I looked at that old quilt top and essentially said to myself that I might as well figure out how to make it into a real quilt, one way or another.

Off I went to my new local quilt shop, here in Maryland. I took a class on long-arm quilting and brought my quilt in.  I was still awfully sheepish about bringing in my “crappy quilt top,” but Leticia—the staff person helping me for my first long-arm session—was undaunted. “Let’s get it on the frame, you can quilt it and you will snuggle under it and you will love it.”

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After all of that, I still put off binding it. A mental road block, maybe? I’ve even started and completed another quilt since:

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But last weekend, after finishing another quilt top, I decided to go ahead and finish it up. I’m tired of moving it around the craft room and just wanted it out. So I attached the binding and got to work.

I cannot put into words how good it feels to get this quilt finished. It was a big hurdle in my crafting life, something weighing me down, pulling at me. It took me 9 years to finish it, but now I don’t feel like I am not a quilter. I know that I am a maker.

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Pattern: Turning Twenty Into Diamonds by Tricia Cribbs

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The moral of my story is, don’t be discouraged by discouraging people or even by your own insecurities. Maybe that lady was having a bad day, maybe lots of things, but I didn’t have to take those words to heart and let them define me. I didn’t know then, but I certainly do now, that the crafting/making world is full of encouragement, advice, blogs, videos, forums, and all sorts of help. It’s out there for the taking. All you have to do is make things that make you happy, and a maker you will be. A knitter, a stitcher, a baker.

Even a quilter.


YoM day 85-88: Quilting


Happy making!

Linked to My Quilt InfatuationCrazy Mom Quilts, and Sew Fresh Quilts

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14 thoughts on “Not a quilter.

  1. thenaughtybun says:

    Your quilt is lovely, the colours fabulous, and from a distance all those “faults” are impossible to spot. Seriously, I want to whack that woman in the head with something hard. Who the eff does she think she is? What gave her the right to say something like that? Seriously! Very happy you overcame her negativity, but you shouldn’t have been exposed to it to begin with. It’s so unprofessional it makes my skin crawl. Grrr.
    You know what I’ve heard about wonky first quilts? “Let’s quilt it, and those flaws won’t be noticed.” That’s what she should have said.

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  2. Shauna T says:

    I think your quilt is great and I wish I could slap the mean quilt lady. I hate people who point out all the negatives. My stuff is less than perfect, but that doesn’t stop me. I was told by a teacher once there is no quilt police and if someone has a problem with what you did, simply tell them to get over themselves.

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  3. nonniew says:

    Your quilt is just lovely! And I agree with the commenter above: reading about that downer quilt store lady made me mad! I’ve been feeling recently like I’m not much of a knitter and wondering if I ought to give it up. Your story makes me think otherwise. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

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  4. Fussell says:

    All it takes to crush a new hobbyist is that one rude person, just one comment!! I didn’t go into quilt shops or take classes for years because one rude store owner told me “you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re in over your head.” I went home, bought fabric and a book online and taught myself. I’m so sorry she was rude, your quilt is lovely and very well done!! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jenny Benton says:

    So glad you perservered and I bet you are too. It’s hard not to be upset by critical comments though, they are very hurtful. Very few of us sew “perfectly” – my points aren’t always right but what the heck, I’m happy so that’s all that matters, in my book. So keep on keeping on, and I do hope you are planning your next quilt!

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  6. Shelley Needham says:

    Your quilt IS beautiful, and an absolute treasure because it was your first! You should be very proud of it and proud of yourself for overcoming the negativity of that horrid woman. How DARE she taint your first quilting effort and make you feel ashamed of something you gave birth to out of your heart and soul, it’s like criticizing your newborn baby because their ears stick out a little too far!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, I am starting a quilting group this month, and will be teaching several of the members who are absolute beginners. I will keep your story in the back of my mind so I NEVER inadvertently do something like that to any of my fledgling quilters.

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  7. Bonnie in Va says:

    Excuse me, but that saleswoman was way out of line. If nothing more she shut you down and denied her store future sales. Hopefully it wasn’t the attitude of the whole store but just her attitude on a bad day. Your quilt looks wonderful and will be fabulous to snuggle under. Keep on quilting — it is great therapy for lousy days and sunshine on rainy day. (hum, I may have borrowed that last line )

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  8. Melanie says:

    Thanks for the story – though as all others above me – I am sorry you had to hear that. The first quilt or even quilts from a while back sometimes make us cringe as we develope in craftsmanship or taste. But though I think that my first quilt is “disgusting” in design, I am still proud of it, my first quilt baby. Hope you will proud of your finish of the first quilt baby, too. Snuggle a lot under it and just enjoy.

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  9. myquiltprojects says:

    Many wonderful lessons in your story. I feel sorry for the staff member who crushed your quilter’s pride (no need to feel sorry for you, because you have rose above the occasion!). If I have learned anything in life, I have learned this: Misery loves company! That woman must have been some kind of miserable. Regardless if you would have finished this quilt years ago or yesterday, it is an accomplishment she will never have. She cannot make your quilt! And she will never be warmed by it either!

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