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Thread: Attitudes towards young quilters

  1. #1
    Senior Member MissSongbird's Avatar
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    Attitudes towards young quilters

    I'm 20 years old and I've been quilting for about 5 years now, and as a young quilter I've experienced many different attitudes from other quilters because of my age. It's only within the last year or two that I've actually become involved in the local quilting community.

    A little over a year ago I joined a Thimbleberries quilting group with my aunt in hopes that we would grow a more serious bond over our love of quilting. Long story short, my aunt slowly stopped going with me and my the quilt shop no longer does thimbleberries. Anyway, at the beginning I got a lot of weird looks from the women. I felt sorta un-welcome, but thankfully this was only from a couple of women. Many of these women were happy to talk to me and make me feel welcome. And then once I did show-and-tell for the first time with my black and red log cabin quilt, I truly felt accepted into the group for they now knew I could ACTUALLY QUILT! Some of the women have begun offering my fabric and books and they are always open to helping me with any quilting problem.

    But on the other hand I haven't had great experiences with some other quilters. Almost two years ago I joined a local chapter of Quilts of Valor. Unlike at Thimbleberries, I felt welcome at the very beginning. But slowly after time the ladies talked to me less and less and I could feel those judgmental stares. I've also found that when we have collectedly worked on projects I'm given "busy work" I guess you would call it...nothing that actually helps all that much. Not all of the women are like this, but it seems some are more than not. Now I don't even want to go to meetings. I'd rather sit at home in my own room doing my thing, than being ignored with all those women around me.

    Honestly, I feel sometimes some of older quilters aren't to welcome to young quilters and it pushes some potential quilters away. I'm not like a lot of people for if they tell me I can do something I prove them wrong, but I know a lot of people who would be put off forever because of these attitudes.

    Sorry this is soooo long, but to get to the point, please don't count us youngins. I know we are hard to find, but most of those who do come around love quilting just as much as the next person. And just because we are young doesn't mean we are unskilled or unexperienced.

  2. #2
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I have always had a good experience, ladies are always nice, I even enjoy the funny comments about my age sometimes. Like one day all the ladies were like isn't everyone hot and I was like I'm freezing, and then they were like yeah she's young no hot flashes yet. It is rather odd though when your the only person under 50 in every quilt class, but I just had to get over it. Its just the way things are. One day a lady brought her 13 year old daughter, I was like yeah I'm not the youngest. The sad thing is I look super young so people will probably still think I'm super young when I get there. My first quilt class they thought I was twelve and I was 20. I think it might just be dependent on location. I have found quilters to be some of the nicest people I have ever met
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D, Juki MO-2000QVP

  3. #3
    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry you don't feel accepted in that particular set of quilters, but there are so many places on the internet where you would be welcomed with virtual open arms ;-) Join us!
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

  4. #4
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    I'm many years older than 20!! I found quilters in my local guild to be closed to "newcomers" (I was about 55 when I joined the guild) so I quit attending the meetings, and it had nothing to do with age. I am more of a loner and introvert anyway, so I actually do better on my own.
    I would encourage you not to give up, however. Look at Leah Day, her skill, and her age - 27 or maybe 28. She commands great respect for her quilting skills. So even though you feel age is a factor, and it certainly may be with some women, stick with it. Don't become discouraged. You may be the next Leah Day!!

  5. #5
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Definitely don't give up -- maybe you could start a group of your own!

    As M.Elizabeth said, some people are just obnoxious in general. Maybe some others think you'll get bored and stop soon because when they were you age, they would have. Maybe they just don't think they have anything in common with you. And then we're back to obnoxious.

    Keep looking for the right group, or create one yourself. I bet you aren't the only person in your area to feel this way!

  6. #6
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    Wow does your story ever sound like mine. I started quilting many years ago and it was very hard to find a group of ladies I enjoyed being with. I continued along on my own and now some 30 years later I still don't belong to a group. Except this one that is. I will say that I know many of the quilter's in the area today. I enjoy the shows and an occational class, but, I guess groups are not my thing.

    Just keep up your sewing and quilting. I know you will enjoy it your whole like though.
    RedGarnet222

    "Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern ... It will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that ...one stitch at a time, taken patiently."
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    Keep those who have been friendly and helpful as quilting buddies, but continue to expand outward. I have found that some quilters are the type to only have a few friends at a time, but when you find someone really sociable -- hang onto them. Your LQS might be interested in seeing if you could help them develop a class for young women in your area. Don't give up! No way. Your future quilts need you.

  8. #8
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    I am very sorry that you were treated like that. I LOVE it when I find a young quilter, they always have a different view and get me out of my old girl panties and into something new and exciting. I am thrilled that the younger generation is embracing quilting/sewing and will be there to carry on the tradition. Don;t let a couple of bad eggs ruin your experience. I would go where I felt welcome and after giving a couple of trys if I still got the cold shoulder, I would just go down the road.

  9. #9
    Junior Member tyoung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Elizabeth View Post
    I'm many years older than 20!! I found quilters in my local guild to be closed to "newcomers" (I was about 55 when I joined the guild) so I quit attending the meetings, and it had nothing to do with age. I am more of a loner and introvert anyway, so I actually do better on my own.
    Totally agree here. In our town we have a guild too, and as a new quilter I was hoping to learn from this group of women. I was close to 40, but my age wasn't the problem. It was because I was new. They were not interested in helping a newbie nor were they accepting of newcomers. I quilt going too, because I didn't feel welcome. I kept searching for help in other ways, and here I am six years later still quilting! Don't give up, there are many online groups (like this one) who are very excepting.

  10. #10
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    I can totally understand what your saying. To those of us who are under 35 the quilting community, as in groups and meetings, are truly unaccepting of us. I found a lot of them are very set in their ways and they feel like us youngeons will bring change and well people don't really like change too much. However, after about a year of being pushed to the side and ignored I decided that I was going to pursue other ventures with my quilting. I did some research and I went to my local YMCA and asked if any of the young girls might be interested in learning how to quilt or how to sew even, thought I'd take it slow and see how it went. Well by golly the first class we had 25 young ladies and a couple young men who ranged in the age of 13 to 18. They all had a great time and we even made quilts to send over to the service men and women. Needless to say this is still going strong and we meet up a couple times a week. I found people who were accepting of me and it truly feels great. So my suggestion to you, is look on Craigslist forums see if there are any younger people in your area who get together to quilt, or even start your own quilting circle. I'd bet you'd be awesome at it.

  11. #11
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    I pretty much agree with what everyone has already posted. In my experience it has more to do with being new rather than age. At least that has been my experience. Maybe you can find a friend close to your age that wants to learn to quilt and start a group of your own. Or, the other option is bring a friend with you to the events. You'll be surprised how things change when you're not just on your own!

  12. #12
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    Its not your age...don't feel alone...I stopped going too....its that they already have their quilting buddies....
    Last edited by carolaug; 12-31-2012 at 07:21 PM.

  13. #13
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    Patti25314, I have had similar experiences and I'm in my 70s! I don't do "block quilts, can't follow patterns (seems like there is a term I don't know, or two interpretations of things...) it just doesn't work for me. To make 60 or 120 blocks of the same pattern is something I can't/wont' do. So I let designs develop; let the fabrics direct me; do what seems to come next, keep the intended owner in mind. Happily my kids and Gkids all really like my quilts and I always have a list of quilts that have been requested. My skills are poor (I have pretty bad arthritis) but each quilt is for someone who wants it. Yes, I do quilts for shelters and church drives and I just presume that the fact that I tried to make them pretty and that they are warm will make them well received. (Wish I could meet some of the people who have my quilts!). Some relatives simply don't want home made quilts, and that's OK. Others say, "When do I get mine!?" I've had extended relatives tell me exactly what theme and colors they like. So far, within the year they have a new quilt. Love them all.

    When I show a quilt at a guild that I joined last year the reception is flat. They are looking for things they might want to do and what I have isn't what they have even thought about. I did one quilt that had 3 men say "WOW" when they saw it here at home and when I showed it to the group they hardly quit talking to one another to look at it. They simply don't see it as a quilt and they don't understand it. That's OK. Not my dream group but that's OK too. They are nice people and I want that connection.

    Do your thing. Try another group if the one you're in is getting painful. Snoop around and see if you can find other quilters who would like a smaller, more initimate and supportive group. I found 4 other gals using this quilt board and we have been meeting for 2 years now. They are really supportive, each strong in a different area (all strong, better quilters than I am) and each supportive and willing to make suggestions.

    I even have a pen pal from QB and we have helped each other with ideas when we get into a corner and can't figure out how to make something wimpy shine. We celebrate each other's quilts. It's very up-lifting. Keep trying!
    Last edited by Sierra; 12-31-2012 at 07:37 PM.

  14. #14
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    Like most groups, people have their little cliques and are not always ready to welcome newcomers no matter their age. It is nice to have a group to quilt with in person but you have the next best thing, us.

  15. #15
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Don't give up. I to feel that it has more to do with being new to the group more than age. I am 60 and do not belong to any groups for this reason. I guess I do my best work alone. Would be fun to belong to a group but not fun to get involved in the politics and petty coat wars!!!

  16. #16
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    keep persisting keep looking---look around there is very little mixing of generations in normal life so in quilting it may reflect this --but quilting will eventully win out ---i found asking advice makes people feel wanted +good try the simple lines of communication--but if they show no warmth move on

  17. #17
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    I have found that the quilters seem to not want someone who does things differently. As Sierra said, they don't appreciate quilts that do not have a label, that they don't recognize the pattern name; if a quilt hasn't been made before in some version they do not seem to be very interested in someone who can design it and make it. There are a lot of "quilt police" out there that don't like people who are new, young, different, and who always think outside the box when defining and making a quilt.

  18. #18
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    I am 64 and I love being around young women who are either just learning to quilt or have been doing it for awhile. Their enthusiasm inspires me, and the newbies are so hungry to learn everything they can. About 30 years ago when I first moved to In. I was like you, looking for a group of Quilters, I joined 2 different Guilds, with much the same out come as you. Finally I joined a group at our LQS and I loved it, there were women of all ages. Like some of the others said, start your own group, we need you young people to keep the art of quilting alive. We're not going to live forever!

  19. #19
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    Sorry you have that 'stuff' going on in the QOV group. Keep in mind, though, that there are cliques of people in every walk of life. Quilters are no exception. I belong to two groups and both have very different group personalities. One is more social, the other is social and more active with charity quilting and classes. You just need to find the right group or groups for you!

    Keep quilting!

  20. #20
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    Me, too! My then 7 year old niece picked two fabrics that I didn't feel went well for her first quilt. It was a big 4 patch, a cat fabric and a pink zebra stripe. I gave gentle direction, but she persisted with her choice.

    In the end, she was right! The quilt was very striking! I loved it! She taught me a lesson that I won't forget that day!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I have an angel by my side! I took a friend with me to the new guild I joined. Her name is Angel, and I like to joke and say, I know I will be fine with Angel by my side. It is always more fun doing it together with someone. Good luck!

  22. #22
    Senior Member skothing's Avatar
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    So sorry for your hurt feelings. One of my guilds does not like new people as they interrupt the meeting and often don't own a sewing machine or know how to sew. I am not saying that is what happen with you. But being an older guild they have short timers who don't help and only there to get their wants satisfied. They don't care what was planned. It is best to call and ask what is expected for newcomers. If there is something you can do to help the guild. There is a lot of work keeping a guild running. Workers are always needed. Sitting up and taking down chairs is one area of need. Be a friend and Willing to help with the madane jobs.Everyone wants to be the queen bee but few want to be a worker bee.

  23. #23
    Super Member orangeroom's Avatar
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    Dear MissSongBird,
    I'm glad that you are passionate about quilting. No matter what your age, quilting can be very therapeutic. I think I started in my 30's. I'm currently 42. I attempted to join a local quilt group. Long story short, I don't fit in with the snooty quilters in my town. Nor do I want to join a group of religious women who quilt. Not into that either. I am content to go on shop hops with my quilter friends from work or personal life who (incidentally are quite older than me), but who are wonderful company!
    Again, I'm glad that you've found something that you're interested in and have stuck to it! May you have many happy years of quilting ahead of you!
    Go forth and sew!

  24. #24
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    unless someone has actually said something to make you think it's an (age thing) it may have nothing to do with your age...i'm in my 50's and have gone through the same things in some settings---sometimes groups have been together for a long time & they are just not real receptive to anyone new---doesn't matter if your 15 or 60...some of them will snub the new person- be friendly (pretend to accept) in the beginning- but then really not accept them into their little (click) don't take it personally & don't worry about your age...at some point you will find the right group for you- or with preserverence and time you will finally fit in (& hopefully not turn into) the 'group'. i stopped going to our local guild a number of years ago because although people were for the most part friendly enough---they were also at times quite rude---oooh & ahhh & comment on one person's show & tell- then not even look- talk among themselves-totally snub the next person's...age really was not a factor-
    just keep on doing what you enjoy- show it off & try new groups, exposure...with time you will fit in like a glove when the right group realizes what a treasure you are! (our guild has memebers from 15 years old up to 80's+...they are rude to all ages equally)
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  25. #25
    Member Chiclet's Avatar
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    I am in my mid 40s and have never even attempted to join the local quilt groups as they always schedule the meetings Monday thru Friday between 9 and 5! Sadly I need my day job to support my quilting habit! I have signed up for classes and thankfully have a very willing partner in my mother in law! She is also my only sewing buddy as none of my other friends sew. They are veery supportive if my quilting though. the ladies at the classes were either clique-y or there alone so we tend to talk to the ones that are there alone and ignore the ones that seem uninviting. I can honestly say it was not an age thing since my MIL is older than I am and they didn't seem very welcoming to her either. Hang in there and don't give up your quilting for anyone!

    The one person who has not been supportive of my quilting hobby was my sister who once told me that I needed to find a more "age appropriate" passtime... ? Have not figured out what that means yet!

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