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Thread: Quality of Tools

  1. #1
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    Quality of Tools

    Most quilters classify quilting as a fabric art not a hobby. But other arts have a very decided difference between student tools and professional tools. Students are not encouraged to invest in the cost of professional tools until their skill levels are in the professional level. However, quilters frequently encourage beginning quilters to buy the best tools they can afford. With the possible exception of the rotary cutter and the new cutting mats, the price of the other tools does not make the skill level of a beginner better. Why do you think we, out of almost all the arts, advise on spending for the expensive tools? Many of us downgrade fabric from various sources, etc. never saying save the $15/yd for the entry into the international quilt contest. We don't say that a $300 or less sewing machine is fine for almost all quilts; we subtly brag about our top of the line machine without saying what top of the line quilt or book we've produced using that superior tool. I think it is because we aren't serious artists, we're addicted hobbyists. I've seen artists show paintings and say that now they think they are good enough to start buying professional grade linen canvas and professional grade oils. Some never use professional brushes, preferring to throw away brushes more frequently. We never see a quilter show a quilt and say, do you think this is good enough that now I can spend twice as much on my fabric and batting? Do you think we should?

  2. #2
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    my 1/4 inch foot and my 2 rulers help make my quilts the best i can make at this time as it improves the accuracy and reduce my un sewing time --- yes i am guilty of getting the odd unused item---but most fabrics in aussie are $21-$25 per meter--as with every 'thing of beauty/value there are the gob smacking greats and the ones like me who just love doing it

  3. #3
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    No I don't. How many people do you know that have never quilted on a longarm but go out and purchase one anyway? In most cases were talking thousands of $$ here. They spend hours and hours practising and honing their skills, and alot of them become awesome quilters, and some Masters. Quilters always incourage the beginners and newbies, to buy what you can afford. I do not consider my making quilts a hobby. Its not a pass time for me. I love it, its my passion. I don't make any money doing it, but I can not imagine what I would do if I did not make quilts. I have been making quilts since 1975. I don't know how to explain it,other than to say it's who I am.

  4. #4
    Super Member LyndaOH's Avatar
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    I agree with Jackie wholeheartedly. I'm not a hobbyist quilter; instead quilting is so ingrained in me that I see most other things in my life through that lens. I've been quilting for about five years and it's become a part of my very being.

    As for student tools and fabrics, I think they do exist. You can buy a starter quilter's collection with a rotary cutter, ruler, marking pencil, pins, etc., for less than $15. It also comes with a few patterns and a beginner's book. You can also buy less expensive fabrics. It's how I started and I'm sure others started that way too.

    That being said, after a year or so I did upgrade my tools, including purchasing a nice sewing machine. I traded my way up to it by buying several used machines and determining exactly what I wanted. I don't think anyone, whether beginner, hobbyist or master quilter, needs to apologize for the tools they use. We each buy what we like and can afford.

    On the subject of fabric, I do generally use LQS fabrics but I'm really careful what I pay for them. I rarely buy something at full price and generally buy at around $5/yard. I prefer to shop at area LQSs because I want them to be there in the future. I've taken wonderful classes, gotten great advice and made my best friends at classes, retreats and shows sponsored by my LQSs.

    I've worked with many beginners and hobbyist quilters and I would never question their use of less expensive materials or tools. Similarly, I've never had anyone look at one of my more challenging quilts and ask what ruler I used or what brand of fabric or what sewing machine. This weekend I'll be going to an area quilt retreat and I will see sewing machines ranging from $99 Brothers to top of the line Berninas to the popular Janome Gems to Singer Featherweights. I'll see fabric from WalMart, Joann, Goodwill and the LQS that sponsors the retreat. Everybody will be having fun and creating beautiful quilts. Nobody turns their nose up at anyone else (and there are about 100 of us) because we're all quilters loving what we're doing.

    I don't feel addicted; I feel passionate and there's a big difference.

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Don't men buy the best tools they can afford for their hobbies? Don't all cooks look for the freshest produce and the best cut of meat that is affordable? Why would we as quilters not do the same?

    We buy the best fabric we can afford (looking for the best price at the same time) because we believe that quality fabric looks better and holds up longer than cheaper fabrics. We want to make the best quilts we can, and that means using good ingredients, within the limits of our budget. We use the best tools we can find and afford, because they make it easier for us to produce a quality product. And good tools last longer and are often safer than tools of lesser quality.

    Last but not least, we buy the best we can afford because --- WE'RE WORTH IT!

  6. #6
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I never say that. I started out on a 100 dollar cheapo mechanical brother and used it for my first decade of quilting. I am a firm believer in that you do not need a TOL for quilting or sewing, but if you can afford better why not. I have acquired everything slowly as time goes on because I started out in college with little money with an aunt that quilted that gladly gave me fabric to use. II don't think many downgrade fabrics from various sources, many on here proudly shop joanns, hobby lobby, walmart, LQS, online, anywhere they can grab a deal. I have purchased from all above sources, I usually don't even buy much fabric from my LQS unless I get money or gift card for my birthday or x-mas I splurge and shop there, and I usually still wait for a good sale or coupons, because in reality and this economy who can afford the prices of the LQS. I think most quilters just know how to be frugal and get the best bang for their buck
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D

  7. #7
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphyngyrl View Post
    I never say that. I started out on a 100 dollar cheapo mechanical brother and used it for my first decade of quilting. I am a firm believer in that you do not need a TOL for quilting or sewing, but if you can afford better why not. I have acquired everything slowly as time goes on because I started out in college with little money with an aunt that quilted that gladly gave me fabric to use. II don't think many downgrade fabrics from various sources, many on here proudly shop joanns, hobby lobby, walmart, LQS, online, anywhere they can grab a deal. I have purchased from all above sources, I usually don't even buy much fabric from my LQS unless I get money or gift card for my birthday or x-mas I splurge and shop there, and I usually still wait for a good sale or coupons, because in reality and this economy who can afford the prices of the LQS. I think most quilters just know how to be frugal and get the best bang for their buck
    Ditto that!!!!!!!

  8. #8
    Power Poster Moonglow's Avatar
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    Quilting is my passion and I buy what I can afford. I don't have to have the best tools or the best sewing machine because most of the quilts I make are 'wash and wear' and given away. When I first learnt quilting all you needed was a good pair of scissors and a basic sewing machine. We made our own templates from cardboard etc. and didn't have any fancy tools. However, we still made beautiful quilts.
    Nowadays I think that a rotary cutter and a cutting mat are essential. Gadgets and tools are great if you are going to use them most of the time, however, I would rather spend my money on beautiful fabric.
    Lastly, let's just enjoy making quilts without having to be concerned about whether we have the best tools or machine or whatever. It's about making beautiful memories.
    Last edited by Moonglow; 01-16-2013 at 10:02 PM.

  9. #9
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    Don't men buy the best tools they can afford for their hobbies? Don't all cooks look for the freshest produce and the best cut of meat that is affordable? Why would we as quilters not do the same? . . . we buy the best we can afford because --- WE'RE WORTH IT!
    My sentiments exactly. I got along with less while I was raising my family. It's nice to be able to have a little extra to spend on things I love now that it's just DH and me. But I try to keep it within reason.

  10. #10
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    I take back what I said because I see that none of you consider yourselves fabric artists. I had mistakenly thought from many other threads that most quilters thought of themselves as making fabric art. I was confusing oranges for apples.I appologize for obviously offending you.

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