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Thread: Need Your Help in Basics of Quiltmaking

  1. #1
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    Need Your Help in Basics of Quiltmaking

    I am developing a class to refresh/renew knowledge and skills in those techniques and/or information about quiltmaking. In reading the posts here and other sites it appears that there is a gap in certain aspects of quiltmaking that one was not either exposed to or perhaps forgot. Back in the early days of the revival of quiltmaking we learned quiltmaking from the very basic to advanced. It was the days before all the develpment in technology, supplies and euipment so we had to do it all ourselves.

    What information do you find lacking today.
    What do you wish you did or could learn to be a better qultmaker.

    It is almost like learing complex math or science without having to do the calculations because the gadgets will do it for us. Yet we don't know how the gadget arrived at the right answer.

    So I'm asking.......what would you like to know.

    I do appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

    I thought this would be a short 3 hour lecture/demo class but have become overwhelmed at all the information that might be needed.

    What you might consider dumb questions are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    I never took a class, so I probably don't have the best suggestions, but I think learning how to draft a quilt block would help a lot of new quilters.

    Janet

  3. #3
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    I started quilting in the "olden days" and learned with templates and scissors. Still do this occasionally. The thing I have the most trouble with is cutting long, straight strips. After years of fighting those crooked areas (dog legs?) I still get them. I fold, refold, press, line up, square up, pray, cut, and they still show up. Maybe this is too basic for your class but wow, would I like to know the secret of straight cuts. Especially when the strips are narrow, say 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" wide by WOF or LOF.
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  4. #4
    Super Member Cris's Avatar
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    I am still lacking in the art of squaring up a block and the importance of cutting along with that darn 1/4 inch seam!
    Cris

  5. #5
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    For me, it is the binding. I just can't ever seem to get a smooth, nice looking binding. In some places, it is usually narrower than other places, or else it looks "lumpy" when I'm done.

  6. #6
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    the science and math ARE what is missing. Knowing the "why's" of using chemicals, straight of grain, etc. These days quilting is more about slapping things together and calling it a quilt, instead of "learning" the art and enjoying the process of making something worthy of our time and money! While I do appreciate the fact that many are without Mentors, like elder family members, quilt shops, etc, I also realize that if they can sit for hours at the computer reading this forum, then they can also read the books that teach these skills. Perhaps not the newest books that just teach how to whack at the fabric with no regard as to what is really going on, but the older books that take your through the WHOLE learning process. I see people offering/taking beginner classes that last 4 hours in ONE day. WHAT??? How can you learn a complex art like quilting in 4 hours? A TRUE beginner class should take 10 times that! I teach 3 hours a day, two days a week for 8 weeks and often that is not enough! Those who really learn bring back more questions, which lengthens the learning process..which is always a good thing! Also there are more techniques today, more tools to learn and understand, more videos to watch, more books to ponder, etc, etc, so I think that has added to the " done is better than perfect" thought process we see so much of in today's fabric manipulators. They see pretty, they want pretty, so they start their journey knowing nothing more than that. THose who have NO prior experience with textiles will have the hardest time being self taught quilter's that is for sure! This forum does help with that in one way, but hinders it in another. Example, everyone here has "their" way of doing things, right, wrong, quick, simple, etc...so how does a novice pick their way through the info? Just what is the best way to bind, cut straight, baste, etc? Being on this forum is a lot like being a member of Congress without the paid lobbying! Everyone knows what they want, and no two want the same thing..hehehe
    I admit to being a bit biased, in that I prefer things done the more traditional ways. For longer lasting "skills" anyway. If it were not for those traditions we would NOT have the industry we have now!

  7. #7
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    An interesting discussion!

    I've been taught and trained and read and... and ... and .... on how to do borders.
    Sometimes I do a magnificent job and they are flat and smooth
    ... then when I least expect it, I have waves. UGH!!!
    I have the know-how, but obviously something is missing .... or hasn't sunk in!!!
    So that'd be my #1 Magic Wand personal request, Holice!

    JanRN, your request is not a silly one, not at all! You at least see the problem and know the implications ... many others just say ho-hum, let's just motor on, and who cares? then they wonder whatever could have gone wrong!

    Holice, from my perspective, I often see the difference between well done and not so well, being the difference in attention to detail (or not!). I won't say I have that totally mastered, but I can be pretty persnickety, heading towards anal at times! I learned from a heavy task-master (my Mother), and many times had to unsew til it was perfectly straight and even and squared and lined up and all! Often times it haunts me ... and wonder if she would be pleased with my sewing today? Or not have interest in my quilts? Or would continue to find the least imperfection possible?

    So .... some of the things I have observed that seem challenging to some and perhaps would be on your basics list ... "perfected" 1/4" seams, straight seams without dog legs at the beginning or the end, measure 3 times cut once, accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!!!!!!

    Oh there's so much more ... and the continuing discussion will be most interesting to follow!!!
    Last edited by QuiltE; 02-25-2012 at 06:41 AM.
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  8. #8
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    One aspect that confuses and is a lesson often learned the hard way .. is the understanding of fabric grain and how and when its important.
    The other issue I see with beginners is color... They finish a quilt but wonder why theirs does not have the "zip" of what they see either hanging in the shop , magazines, shows etc. It was a HUGE light bulb moment for me in my quilting journey after attending International , was color and using it effectively.

  9. #9
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    What an interesting discussion. I took a 3 hr for 6 weeks basic class when I first started making blocks that were not just square blocks sewed together. I thought that taught me all I needed to know. I have since learned that even though we are taught how to do things we still have to be accurate in our cutting, sewing and press with care. My mother was a stickler for doing thing the way they should be done not just do them to get them done. So, I agree with everything that Jacque said and I think accuracy it the single most important thing to learn.
    Lorraine

  10. #10
    Super Member valleyquiltermo's Avatar
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    Holace, I agree with they first need to learn the fabric grains, how to line up the fabric so they get a straight cut, and cutting templates. and the color wheel. How importan it is to have a consistent 1/4 inch seam, and yes reverse stitching as in using a seam ripper.Just my 2 cents.
    http://www.skillpages.com/DonnaValleyquiltermo
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by janRN View Post
    I started quilting in the "olden days" and learned with templates and scissors. Still do this occasionally. The thing I have the most trouble with is cutting long, straight strips. After years of fighting those crooked areas (dog legs?) I still get them. I fold, refold, press, line up, square up, pray, cut, and they still show up. Maybe this is too basic for your class but wow, would I like to know the secret of straight cuts. Especially when the strips are narrow, say 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" wide by WOF or LOF.
    I find this difficult too. ANY cutting is difficult for me, no matter what shape. What I end up with is different sizes of the "same" shape and/or crooked!

  12. #12
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland View Post
    I never took a class, so I probably don't have the best suggestions, but I think learning how to draft a quilt block would help a lot of new quilters.

    Janet
    That and basic quilt math. I see a lot of requests on the board for help with the math.

  13. #13
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    I struggle with pattern reading-and squaring up seems to always creat a problem for me.
    Thanks
    Lana
    the Quilting Dreamer
    Lansing, MI

  14. #14
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    I have found most of my skills from either trial and error (lots of error) or in tutorials that are now available on the computer. Trying to teach or improve my math skills this late in life for me would be a lost cause. If I was lousy at it when my mind was young and fresh, I can't see me getting better now.
    If you could offer different lectures to go along with what level people think they are at, that would be helpful. I do know some stuff and would be bored with a lecture teaching the basics. For people just starting into quilting, "the basics" would be invaluable! If you're going to learn, you might as well learn correctly from the start.

  15. #15
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    I so agree with everthing I have read here! I have sewn for years but am new to the quilting world. There are so
    many things with quilting that need to be right on, not just ok if you want a nice quilt!! I think although basic it is a must to learn all the basics, from the very beginning!! It is all so important, bias, fabrics, color, cutting, accuracy in your seams, ect. I think it is important to know not to hurry, slow down , think, do not be afraid to rip out a do over!!!
    I have not had the privledge of taking classes have learn from books, this board, and other on line sources. I would so love to be able to take this class!!! I think it is going to be a wonderful one!!!

  16. #16
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    drafting, template making and accurate cutting. Accurate cutting in general I have had to learn on my own. squaring up a block, also had to learn on my own, not taught in my first quilt class. Accurate measuring and how to use the various lines on a ruler, still don't know what the different lines are for. Accurate piecing, how to make sure you are getting the correct seam allowance. I would say precision is the number one thing not really taught in most classes and is one of the most important thing. I would have almost liked to learn that instead of making my first quilt in which the seam allowances were all over the place. It is something that I have been teaching myself over the last few years

  17. #17
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    Pressing vs. Ironing ....
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    Super Member greenini's Avatar
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    I am some what self taught and have also taken classes over the years. I am thinking a 3 hour class is more an intro to basic quilting. The last class I took was a basic intro quilt class and used a book and consisted of 4 4 hour class sessions. She didn't do any fabric picking...or colors and that's something I would love to have help with. I think borders are a problem area, as are bindings, and "quilt as desired". I'd love to get help with FMQ on a DSM. Cutting straight strips is also a big problem.

    As advance reading for such a class could you suggest a basic quilting book explaining how it used to be done and then you describe how it's done now? Just a thought as I know having read a lot of older quilting books gave me a feeling for mmodern production techniques such as strip sewing, sewing then cutting, etc.

  19. #19
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    jaciqltznok: Very well said! No quiltmaker should be without graph paper and colored pencils, and more important, know how to use them! A sandpaper template and scissors are the best teaching tools. I see so many quiltmakers agonizing over the simplest things and it is mostly because they have no basic knowledge.

    Holice: I would forget about color and artistry in basic classes. Mechanics of quilting would be my first class, artistry after the basics.

  20. #20
    Senior Member AnitaSt's Avatar
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    What a great list of suggestions so far. But I agree with those who mention the need for accurate cutting and piecing. Everything else is sort of wasted if you can't do those two things well enough to make a block with multiple pieces. I learned to sew many years ago but only started quilting about 3 years ago. I've spent lots of time at this new hobby (obsession) since I retired and my skills have improved dramatically, but only through reading and lots of practice. Still, the challenge of accurate sewing and piecing is ongoing for me. Wish I could have taken the course Holice is proposing!

    I also share jacquie's thoughts about focusing on the process more than the result. Not just to have a nice finished project, but also for the sheer joy of handling fabrics, putting them together, watching the quilt grow seam by seam. There is such a "Zen" to the process that many newer quilters miss out on.

  21. #21
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    what's most important or most needed is always going to depend on the student(s). time is the second most important factor. if I was developing a "one-shot" workshop for beginners, i would make sure to cover the following:


    - the words "I can't" are a quilter's worst enemy. help them train themselves to say, instead, "I don't know how ... yet."
    -introduce them to a variety of the most commonly used tools. include a selection of brands and style so they can experiment to see which is likely to work best for them as individuals.
    -have a variety of fabrics on hand, also, so they can see and feel the differences; a basic introduction to the different categories of fabric.
    -point out that there is rarely only one right way to do anything. try to demonstrate at least three different methods for each skill you want to include in the class.
    -a "what if" section would be invaluable, i think. learning [if and] how to recover from an error will serve any quilter well as the years go by.

    -the best advice? warn them to never listen to anybody who offers information, opinions or advice from a high horse. any words sent through or down a nose should be ignored completely.

  22. #22
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    I like your best advice best P!

  23. #23
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    Due to lack of knowledge when I want curved blocks (not pieces of blocks) I have to default to appliques on top of square blocks. Is there basic knowledge for making curved blocks, curved lines in a somewhat traditional looking quilt? I would like to know the why of things - why are seams 1/4"? why are quilts built along grid lines? why do most people like sharp contrast of color and distain low contrast unless they are watercolor quilts? Why are hodgepodge color selections of scrappy quilts considered by some preferable to careful color schemes that are more harmonious with color theory?
    Why is texture in a quilt not a good thing usually? Why do LQS often offer a beginning class that just teaches a person how to make someone else's quilt pattern?Why are bindings almost always just a flat piece of fabric along the edge, seldom a ruffle or a ruche a pleat or anything else?
    Last edited by TanyaL; 02-25-2012 at 12:14 PM.

  24. #24
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    I think it is valuable to have plenty of samples of how things should look like and perhaps some examples of what a quilt looks like when not done with precision. Explanation should accompany these samples. When you are a beginner, you need to see the quality level you are working toward. I don't mean to have a very complex quilt design, but have a very simple quilt to show that is square, has matching seams, no bulk or puckers, flat borders, filled out binding, etc.

    Dayle

  25. #25
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    So many people want simple and fast. The first class I took was at our local Library. We made a whole quilt, consisting of 12, 12 in. finished blocks. They taught us everything. The blocks got progressively harder as we went along, they were all star blocks. One had the flying swallows around the center. Anyway, they told us, by the time we finished this quilt, we would be able to make anything we wanted to. They were right. I learned more in that one class, 25 years ago, then I have learned since then. It was taught by 2 very talented ladies who were fantastic quilters. I will never forget them.

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