Quilting and Cross Stitch Communities


I’ve been quilting for a long time.  I likely made my first quilt in about 1988 or so.  I started out making a quilt for our oldest daughter Kelli.  (She is with the quilt in the picture below) She was little and was just transferring into a “big girl” bed.  I made a simple quilt that really reflected where I was at the time.  I had a panel of clowns.  I cut them apart for the clown “blocks”.  The alternate blocks were crazy pieced together crumb/string style.  Then I took all of those blocks to my job and during slow times I would embroider along the seams in bright-colored embroidery floss.

Fast forward a year.  I had three kids under three years old.  I went to visit my mom.  She offered to me that she would watch my kids if I wanted to get out and do her errands.  YES PLEASE!!  She handed me $20 and told me if I saw something for myself to get it.

I ended up finding a quilting magazine and bought it.  A short time later my mom died.  As part of working through the grief process, I worked on and made this quilt top…Yep.  The beginner I was, tackled a “hard” quilt with curved seams.  I thought nothing of it.  All of my previous sewing experience was sewing garments.  Curved seams are no big deal with garments.  I simply transferred that knowledge to quilting.

I wanted to know more about quilting so a friend offered to teach several of us how to quilt.  At the class, we were to make this quilt…

We were also encouraged to bring any quilts we had made before for a small show and tell.  I brought the fan quilt that I had made.

Here was my first experience with quilting police…Someone said, “If you can make that, why are you at a beginning quilt class??”  The other participants chimed in and agreed…even the teacher.  I felt unwelcome.  The tone it all was said wasn’t complimentary, it made me feel like I was raiding their space.

That kind of caboshed me wanting to ever go to quilt classes or quilting retreats.  Even though I really was a beginner when it came to quilting, I ended up feeling like I didn’t fit when I was asked “why are you at a beginning quilt class”.

Keep in mind…I had no idea how to read a quilt pattern.  I had no idea about pressing.  I had no idea how to use the rotary cutter, ruler, and mat that I bought for the class.  I knew nothing about quilting thread.  I really was a newbie.

Sadly it was not my only experience in the quilting community that has been negative.  I have gotten negative comments about:

-the kind of machine I sew on
-how often I change my needle
-that I use a cheap iron
-that I don’t use steam when pressing
-that I don’t pre-wash my fabric
-that most every quilt I make is completely scrappy
-that I don’t belong to a guild
-that I don’t shop much at quilt shops
-that I don’t go on shop hops
-that I don’t worry about pressing
-that I piece my quilt backs
-that I often use sheets for my backings
-that I don’t fret about a seam allowance that is 1/8″ off
-that I fudge seams when necessary
-that I have used fabric that “is not from a quilt shop”
-that I don’t subscribe to quilting magazines
-that I still gravitate towards reproduction fabrics
-that I machine bind
-that I use spray starch
-that I make quilts “with all those little pieces”
-that I sew on a $15 vintage sewing machine

One might think with all the criticism I might have quit quilting.  I don’t.  Why??  Because I truly LOVE quilting.

I feel like I am unlike so many other quilters.  I have ZERO quilt police in me.  ZERO.

I don’t care if you…
-sew with fabric from Walmart, JoAnn’s, quilt shop, or recycled
-never clean out your sewing machine from lint
-change your sewing machine needle
-sew on a $10 Goodwill machine
-sew on a $5000 machine
-tie your quilts
-use sheets for the back
-buy only 108″ backings
-sew with only pre-cuts
-only shop the clearance rack
-go on every bus trip and retreat
-have stacks and stacks of totes full of fabric that you never touch
-only sew wall hangings
-love applique
-have every sewing notion know to man
-bind by hand vs machine
-if you work quickly or not

My feeling is…it’s your hobby.  Do it how you want.  Feel free to gather information and then make choices for yourself.

If your dying goal is to make every seam you sew perfect, go for it.  That’s just not me.  If you want to make sure your quilt seams are completely flat-go for it.  Again, it’s not me.

I don’t always get an acceptance vibe from other quilters and frankly, it makes me sad.  I remember how I initially felt when I went to that first quilting class and was asked, “why are you at a beginning quilt class”.  Others might have been turned away for good.  Not me…I really wanted to be a quilter.

On the contrary, I’ve entered the cross-stitch community.  It is honestly completely different.  One of the things I hear people often say is “Stitch what you love”.

Oh my…what a welcoming phrase.

Like quilting, cross stitch has many avenues.
-You can stitch on an Aida fabric.  You can stitch on linen.
-You can stitch with DMC.  You can stitch with silk or overdyed flosses.
-You can stitch in hand, with a hoop, or on a stand.
-You can do the poke stitch or the sewing stitch.
-You can buy mottled fabric or not.
-You can stitch with a variety of different needles.
-You can stitch huge samplers or small pieces.
-You can stitch original or reproductions.

I’ve never heard people criticizing others for their choices.  I’ve not heard people be negative about stitching with a stand, or on Aida, or using DMC floss or whatever they do.

There is such a more inviting community that encourages people to stitch what they love…whatever that is.  I love that.  It makes me feel like even though I’ve stitched a big piece like my Newcastle Bouquet, I can still classify myself as a beginner.

I’ve really only been stitching for three years and I have lots to learn and things to try.

I’ve done very few specialty stitches.  I’ve never stitched with silks.  There is so much more to learn…and because of the welcoming community, I feel encouraged to try.

This post came about after I got a comment from SewHappy after I machine bound some quilts for the Cresco Ladies.  You can read that post HERE.

SewHappy writes:
But wait I can do it faster. This is how you can do it faster…
This is actually in reference to you, Jo, taking over the binding for the ladies who do it by hand. It is not a race. It is not how many you can get done in a 2.5 hours vs 4 hours. Maybe the lady sit at night and visit with family while sewing. How would you feel if someone took your stitching away from you?
If you were doing a simple Redwork project, I would say try it without a hoop. It makes the project portable.
Slow down and enjoy the day along with the process.”

I feel like I’m again being attacked by quilting police:

First off…I didn’t take anything away from anyone.  The Cresco Ladies were here and they were talking about how they were doing on their goal to have a huge bunch of quilts done by this fall to give away as part of a community project.  They mentioned that they wished they felt better with sewing binding on my machine as binding was something that was slowing them down in reaching their goal.  As we talked, I ended up offering to help with sewing the bindings down by machine.  Being busy trying to reach their goal, they were happy to have the help.  I was happy to be needed and helpful.  After all, I want them to reach their goal. I love helping where I can.

I often get questions about how I bind by machine.  I’ve even made a Youtube video about it.  Of all of my videos, this one is watched the most.

I personally don’t want to sit and hand stitch a binding down.  I’d rather be cross-stitching or any other handwork with my couch time.  Sewing the binding down makes sense to me for my situation.  If other people want to sew their binding by hand, it makes no difference at all to me.  I encourage everyone to “do you”.

People often wonder how long it takes to do.  I was simply being informative.  It took Sandra 4 1/2 hours to stitch ONE binding down.  It took me 2 1/2 hours total to stitch down the binding on the seven quilts I finished binding.  This was purely information as I am often asked how long it takes to machine bind a quilt.  Also, in general, many of the people who read my blog are making charity quilts.  If your goal was to make seven quilts and you had a deadline to make them, wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to cut 29 hours off of the process by learning to machine bind??  Just think of how many more quilts could be made with people in need with that extra 29 hours.  This is all written to be informative…not a race.

Nothing I wrote or did was meant to criticize or take away from anyone.  I think most of you already knew that, but for the few who didn’t, I decided to write this post.

In closing I want to say, I think those people who are part of the quilting police should take a nod from the cross-stitch community.  Encourage people to “sew what you love”…however and with whatever they want.  If that means machine binding, so be it.

I have had many good experiences with the Quilting Community.  I don’t want anyone to think I haven’t. I’ve made friends.  I’ve met people.  I’ve received much love too.  A big huge thank you to anyone who has been kind to me along the way.  I really appreciate it.  The majority of you reading this, I know are my kind of people, the ones who aren’t the quilting police.

Older Post Newer Post