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Thread: Quite honestly a matter of tact...

  1. #1
    Steve's Avatar
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    So what polite things do you really say when you see a quilt that looks awful (yech!), but you don’t want to hurt the quilter’s feelings when asked? Yeah, yeah, I know beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

    I find “Very interesting….” or “I’d never have thought in a million years to do that!” slip out quite easily when I suppose being more honest and giving constructive criticism a path harder to take, but more valuable in the long run to the quilter.

  2. #2

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    I alway look for something postive to say about a quilt, when it comes, to someone showing me their work. Because that could always be me, holding up a quilt that I've done. Focus on the postive, and then ask polite questions. Altho said many, many, times, and will be said many more times. One mans trash is really another mans treasure. I find beauty in all things handmade. It's all about HEART............

  3. #3
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    It really depends on the relationship with the quilter. Do they actually want an honest opinion or do they just want to show what they've done? Can they handle constructive criticism? or accept a better idea?
    I have a hard time showing my mother things because she automatically starts looking for what's wrong with it not what's right, but that's the way her mother was and any little imperfection had to be corrected. For a very long time it hurt my feelings something awful and I vowed to never make anybody feel that way! Therefore I'm very careful in what I say and always try to be encouraging. Now I only show her things from about 6 ft.!
    I do hate it when someone shows something and points out every little thing . That's not good for their confidence.
    So I guess you can say " Oh I just love that fabric" unless you don't! Or maybe comment on the pattern.
    OK, I think I'm just rattleing now!

  4. #4
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    Steve, I think you are "feeling us out" so that when you show us that awful thing you are hiding under the bed, you will know if we are being honest or not. Sure, we can say something nice! But I think that deep inside a person knows they have something that is not going to win a prize. That would be the reason I am not showing my first quilt off the frame. Ha! I can see the mistakes! They GLARE at me, so why do I want to embarrass myself?

    That was a very clever question and we will all be wary, now we know what you are up to.

  5. #5
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    yikes - i hope it wasn't one of mine that you looked at to prompt this question :oops: :cry:

    :wink:

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathy
    I have a hard time showing my mother things because she automatically starts looking for what's wrong with it not what's right, but that's the way her mother was and any little imperfection had to be corrected. For a very long time it hurt my feelings something awful and I vowed to never make anybody feel that way! Therefore I'm very careful in what I say and always try to be encouraging.
    this used to be me to a 't', but since i've really been making lots of 'creative things' it doesn't happen so much. and i've learned to just let it roll when it does. one thing we agree to disagree on is basting. my mom bastes EVERYTHING. even little 2 X 2 pieces for a block she helped me with. drives me nuts! i just walk away and find something else to do and come back an hour later.

    but i am still careful about what i say to people in general and try to be encouraging.

  7. #7
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    My mom had a saying she taught us when I was young, "If you can't say something nice, keep your mouth closed" If someone feels the urge to judge, we need to call in the quilt police, and they were kicked out already. For most of us, this is our hobby, if you are hyper critical go away. There is free advice all over the computer. If someone asks show them where to find some ans, and you will keep your friends. Thats my opinon and I'm sticking to it, besides mean people suck :!: :!: :!: :wink: :roll: :mrgreen: :D :-o :roll: :wink:

    Hmmmmmmmm I just started a new project and posted the start of it.......a lot of people admired the fabric........lol well either way I like it :roll: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:

  8. #8
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Options to being cruel -

    Ask what brand of thread they used, and would they reccomend it
    Find one block to focus on that has a nice print or color
    Praise their ability to get er done

    I've done some uglies that I have passed on to others. Every quilt has taught me something about myself. I would rather have someone change the subject slightly than to take compliments dishonestly. If the problem was poor color choices, you may want to reccommend a book that will help them make different choices. If it is true gag-me fugly, tactfully suggest overdying or embellishment could "add" (camoflauge) the worst of it.

    There used to be the Golden Rule. Then random acts of kindness. Don't let that end with you.

  9. #9

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    Ooh this is a touchy subject. Personally, growing up my mom told me that EVERYTHING I did looked great. As I got older I realized what she was doing and now when I receive a compliment, I never know if it's actually truthful or "just being nice."

    I think if the question is open-ended like "What do you think of my points?" or "Are my color choices okay?" it's different...obviously the quilter is looking for critique. But just to show a finished project and have someone start tearing it apart would be devastating. The quilter chose that pattern, fabrics, etc. for a reason. Unless they say it's not exactly what they had envisioned, I don't think it would be right to say anything about it.

    As for the "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything" mantra, that's cool. But it makes me think...no one made a comment on my last BOM picture, does everyone hate it? :?

  10. #10
    Steve's Avatar
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    I think I’m my own worse critic and having grown up with a father who was naturally inclined at most things, my brothers and I have insecurities that run deep. That said; I like what I do, and always look to improve upon it. My mother on the other hand tends to give new meaning to ‘a positive spin’ on things. Not that she’s a Pollyanna, but maybe knowing we are sensitive, she takes that extra step in avoiding negativity. That too isn’t so great when you’re looking to improve. Both mean well, and I can rationalize it, but putting my desire for positive feedback toward other’s works has always been tempered by these two extremes. They really aren’t so extreme as they are exaggerated by said desire.

    So no, I’ve no monsters in the closet, or under the bed (too many dust bunnies) and no I’ve not felt any extreme revulsion towards any work I’ve seen here (though a couple color choices have bugged my eyes).

    What happened is someone at work asked why I didn’t enter any of my own work into a quilt show, and I tried to explain it wasn’t of a quality that I felt comfortable displaying in public. Then I thought about why I don’t mind putting up the pictures here!

    I suppose it’s because you all are a nice, fair lot of folks who always seem to say the right thing. What I like is a positive as well as constructive criticism, and that is where tact comes in.


  11. #11
    Norah's Avatar
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    I have a friend that is a wonderful friend, but a terrible quilter. She is not the brightest, but she tries hard. I never criticize her. I find nice things to say, like those are nice, bright colors. And, if she is receptive that day, I tell her I can show her another pattern she can do, and then I try to teach her about points at the same time. She learns that way. And I learn that some strange colors really do go well together. And I still have a friend.

  12. #12
    Super Member Yvonne's Avatar
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    When I started teaching and was preparing for my first parent/teacher conferences I was told to sandwich any criticism between positive statements. I have found that this works in day to day life also.
    If asked for an honest opinion I would start with a positive statement about the pattern selected, color choices, whatever, then forge on to the constructive criticism, if needed, and then end on another positive note.
    I would only do this if I was asked for a critical analysis of someone's work. Otherwise I go along with the, "If you can't say something nice..." rule. You can usually find something positive to say if you just look closely. "I can see you've put a lot of hard work into your project." whatever the project is! :lol:

  13. #13
    Super Member henryparrish76's Avatar
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    I pretty much agree with what everyone else has been saying. Look for something positive to say unless they are honestly looking for constructive criticism. Then, being a teacher too, I would sandwich that in between positive comments.

    Heres how that works as a teacher.

    " Johnny you have a wonderful imagination. I see though that you need to write neater and do a spell check on your paper next time. You know Johnny if you retype/rewrite this paper for me I would like to put this on the bulletin board so people can see how to use their imagination."

    (cause you would be surprised at how many of the kids I work with are lacking in imagination. )


  14. #14
    Super Member Minda's Avatar
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    I think sometimes we show our quilts so people can see how hard we've worked and how much time we've put into them. We just want to share it with someone who appreciates how much of ourselves goes into making a quilt. We don't want to be critiqued - we just want to be appreciated. In those instances, I try to find something positive to say. I don't think I've ever seen a quilt that I couldn't find something positive to say about it.

    On the other hand, if I want someone to critique my work, I ask for an honest opinion from someone that I trust to give me just that. If someone asks me for my opinion, I give it truthfully, but try to be positive and encouraging.

    Always remember that many times what we may not like about a quilt is personal opinion, not right or wrong.


  15. #15
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henryparrish76
    I
    " Johnny you have a wonderful imagination. I see though that you need to write neater and do a spell check on your paper next time. You know Johnny if you retype/rewrite this paper for me I would like to put this on the bulletin board so people can see how to use their imagination."

    (cause you would be surprised at how many of the kids I work with are lacking in imagination. )
    Yes, back in the olden days we actually had spelling and vocabulary tests. It was expected that part of our schooling was basic literacy. Without that, everything else loses value. As for lack of imagination, it is like a muscle that needs stretching to develop. If they are allowed to live by someone else's vision, they will become boring and easily bored adults. I'm glad to see you encourage that life skill.

  16. #16
    lisae's Avatar
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    I've made quilts I don't like. I see quilts I don't like, but luckily a comment isn't always expected.

    If someone asks me for a critique, I won't hold back but will give my opinion on how I would have solved the problem, ie 'you know, I might have..' I don't think it is necessary to insult someone's work to critique it.

    If someone shows me a quilt to admire, I find something to admire.

  17. #17
    Super Member MissTreated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve
    So what polite things do you really say when you see a quilt that looks awful (yech!), but you don’t want to hurt the quilter’s feelings when asked? Yeah, yeah, I know beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

    I find “Very interesting….” or “I’d never have thought in a million years to do that!” slip out quite easily when I suppose being more honest and giving constructive criticism a path harder to take, but more valuable in the long run to the quilter.
    If asked for constructive criticism, I'll give it. If not, I won't. I won't offer suggestions unless they are solicited. If someone is showing me a quilt (or something else for that matter) they made and are only showing me it to show me what they have done, I can ALWAYS find something I like about it. If nothing more than, "Wow! You got that done in a hurry!" I do have one friend who is a very prolific quilter and such is her claim. She sews fast, but not well. She's gotta get something done over the weekend. Doesn't work for me, but I'm not her, and it is not my place (without her asking) to tell her she needs to take more time both picking out the fabric and sewing her quilt. Most of the time I'll choose one fabric and say, "I really like that fabric!" My opportunity came when she asked for help with applique. I told her the key was to take her time (along with a couple of other suggestions) and her product was better. Had she not asked for help, I wouldn't have offered it.

    M

  18. #18
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    I ALWAYS point out something positive about it. But to be quite honest, if it was made by hand and that person put all of their heart into it, I'm bound to like it. I guess you can call me a sucker...lol. But, on the other hand, there is one person that when I show my work to, I know they are looking to see if there are any mistakes and they always seem to tell me how I could do it a different way. Which is okay, if it was every now and then and if I asked for the honest opinion but this person tends to do it everytime. So, I just "bite the bullet" and go on b/c I know I didn't make it to please that person....obviously! lol

  19. #19

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    you go ruth, you said it just right. thank you.

  20. #20
    live2teach's Avatar
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    I didn't see what Ruth said earlier...I do now...and I say Amen to that. My mom and grandparents said the same thing.

  21. #21
    bj
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    One thing I've found is a good door opener for discussion is..."What do you think about it? Is there something you wish you'd done differently? What is your goal for your next project?" These questions got me into some very constructive teacher/student conferences. I would then let them ask me questions so I could help them clear up any lingering doubts or worries. I remember when my mom was trying to teach me to crochet (I finally did get it with her help) she would say what I lacked in skill I made up for in enthusiasm. I was excited about the process and thrilled that she took the time to teach me (I think I was 8 or 9 at the time).

  22. #22
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    In general, I find that I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into a quilt ..no matter what it looks like. With that understanding, I find it hard not to find good things about others quilts. True, I've seen some that I didn't care for the pattern...or the color...or whatever, but THATS WHY THEY MAKE CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA!

    As for my own quilts...I have a pretty thick skin. I don't have anyone locally to critique my work so that I can learn and improve. I post here and hope that you will all be honest with me..that is if I ask you what you think :D :D

  23. #23
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    I guess from the small to the tall--quilts are made with heart. Everyone is a work in progress--and if there's no reason to cut them down--why do it? On here--if you don't like a quilt, or can't find something positive to say--just don't reply. But there's always someting I like.

    Hey--you haven't replied on my barn quilt post, have you?? (just kidding, Steve.) :wink:

  24. #24
    Steve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bj
    One thing I've found is a good door opener for discussion is..."What do you think about it? Is there something you wish you'd done differently? What is your goal for your next project?" These questions got me into some very constructive teacher/student conferences. I would then let them ask me questions so I could help them clear up any lingering doubts or worries. I remember when my mom was trying to teach me to crochet (I finally did get it with her help) she would say what I lacked in skill I made up for in enthusiasm. I was excited about the process and thrilled that she took the time to teach me (I think I was 8 or 9 at the time).
    Excellent! I'll need remember that one "What do you think about it?" it should indeed open any discussion civilly.

  25. #25
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    I consider myself an acccomplished quilter, but I make mistakes. The first time I put a block up on another forum, the first or second response was you put it together wrong. I wasn't offended by the statement, someone said Oh! quilters call that a design opportunity, no it's a mistake. Did I change it, NO. My grand-mother taught me to quilt, sew and crochet, she was very critical and I needed to be precise with my sewing.
    As far as others I always say nice fabric, Wow! that was a lot of work. I f they say how do I do this better, I try to explain how to maybe do it different, try never to use the word better.
    Now my other hobby raising snakes, I am brutal with someone doing it in a manor that is ill advised. That is different there is a life involved even if it is a snake.

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