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Seeking Tips for Beginners

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Liz S. (AKA QCA Liz) posted on Sun, Nov 29 2009 8:35 PM

What can we do to make our club more helpful or inviting to beginning quilters? (Perhaps this is you?)

If you have been quilting for several years now, what resources (both in and outside of QCA) would you recommend for someone just getting started?

As I gather everyone’s input, I’ll post everyone’s favorite tips and resources on the site and/or add new site features that would be useful for beginners.  

As always, your suggestions are invaluable!

QCA Liz S.

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Answered (Verified) Eileen replied on Sun, Nov 29 2009 9:06 PM

QCA Liz,

Great question and wonderful idea - quilting can seem a bit daunting to newbies and we've all been there. Sometimes we're hardest on ourselves and don't recognize our own talents but see other's talents right off!

Perhaps a group for beginners would help - a place they can go and feel safe and confident. Maybe some of the more experienced quilters, as well as some of the newer ones (advanced beginners) close to where the new people are in skills could act as mentors and help answer questions, offer advice, etc.

A list of recommended books, DVDs, online videos & websites could be useful. Maybe some of the QCA videos and QNN videos could be rated for beginners, too, so they can easily spot what's most useful/helpful to them.  Some magazines are geared more to beginners, as well, so a list of recommended magazine titles could help, too.

For people who learn better in a structured environment (a quilting class), maybe members could suggest questions people can ask when looking for a class (we've had members post here about both good and bad experiences - perhaps the right questions can help people find the right classes).

Since I'm making lots of suggestions but not giving too many examples, I'll start working on a list of books (I'm a libararian & can begin with what we have in my library system and go from there).  This is a wonderful group on QCA and I know others will have more ideas, too.

Thanks for asking for our input!

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Answered (Verified) gini replied on Sun, Nov 29 2009 10:31 PM

liz,   i think this is a great site for beginners.  everyone is so helpful, and nice.  it's good to have so many nice people here, i don't think i've heard a bad thing said here.  

   i am not an advertiser, so i don't know how to attract beginners, except  by word of mouth.

   as for resources,   compiling a list of our favorite beginning quilting books is a good start.  when i have people ask me how to start quilting,   i invite them to my studio and get them started looing at patterns and discussing them.    i show them how to feel the fabric, how to work a sewing machine.  i need to figure out if they  are more interested in the result or the journey.   some people like the process and are good candidates for hand work, others just want to have something finished.   i walk them through the whole process, showing them every step before they ever start a quilt.  and as you  may have noticed, i have many quilts in all their various stages.   i  try to start piecers on log cabins, because it is such a forgiving block , with so many  ways to  arrange them.  friends that are interested in hand work, i start with  appliqued hearts.     you can tell real fast, who's going to stick with it and who'll drop it.   

   i tell them to find a beginning class, i like the ones that do a different block every month.   if it's a good friend, i may take the class with them.   it's fun to take classes together.   i think i'm going to like the groups here for that reason.    so maybe, a beginner block of the month group?    one that more experienced quilters can drop in on or moderate, to offer help or advice?     by the way, forums has worked well for this.  that is, until we go off on a tangent and not stick with the question at hand, but for the most part it works great.    

   getting together with friends is important.  if there is a friendly guild nearby,   i'll recommend that option.     

   shopping trips together to look at fabric... that's a big stumbling block for a lot of new quilters.  fabric is so expensive, nobody wants to make a costly mistake, by having a poor fabric choice.  a section  on color and fabric selection would be a good addition.

  if there could be a place here to go, broken up into sections, for example:   1.  thread selection    2. fabric selection      3. pattern selection.   4.  needle selection.     some basic guide lines for beginners,   with  a place for us to put  reviews of the different products in each catagory.   ?  

  i think mostly what new quilters need is lots of encouragement and atta boys.  we all make mistakes, but we  can still  end up with a wonderful quilt, mistakes and all.        gini

 

gini in north idaho

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Thea replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 8:34 AM

I think a great project for the site would be a sampler quilt - maybe we could do one from the free patterns on the site - take some of those and turn them into a quilt and teach as we go - do a block a month on those... I know there are quite a few that could be used - and would be a beautiful quilt when done.

Gini - you are so right about the log cabin being lots of 1/4" straight seam piecing - I had that horrendous experience - I wanted her to go slow with it and we set up to do a lesson a week because she had lots of home responsibilities - first she asked me to design the log cabin for her -d id that and was teaching here and really did think it was a good beginner block and would be an easy quilt to make - i was so taught that I was so so wrong... if it could go wrong it did - and it probably was just that she was a lot like I was in the beginning - no patience and we can stretch the seams to fit - I know we can...lol

I know for me the 2 greatest lessons that a new quilter has to learn are the 1/4" seam and pressing...

It makes me mad sometimes though with designers that some blocks need to be a full 1/4" and some need to be a scant 1/4" to make it the right size... i wish that when the designers were designing the blocks that they would state that... I do know that if you are designing with the EQ programs and not graph paper that it is a scant... but this is all trial and error...

 

 

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Patti replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 8:46 AM

So many great suggestions.  I like the idea of having a beginner's group, and with that group doing a block a month to be made into a quilt or wall hanging. I think it was Thea who has done some wonderful tutorials with step by step pictures and posted them.  Very clear and simple and easy to follow. 

Knowing the basics is so important.  Without them it is like building a house without a good foundation, the end result is surely going to be a dissapointment.

Patti

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Trudy replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 11:03 AM

Hi Everyone,

I am a relatively "new" quilter in comparison and I am completely self-taught...which sometimes shows.  I can tell you that when I started, I began with straight blocks...all 8 or 10".  I didn't have a quilting machine so I would use the "bag-out" method and tie the layers together.  Being able to produce something that was simple and almost fool-proof, gave me the courage to move up.  So, my suggestion would be to have the newbies start with a super simple quilt with identical blocks.  There is a wonderful lady who creates the "Take Five" quilt patterns that can be found at www.the-teachers-pet.com and they are super easy but look very nice.  I made several of them last year for Christmas and just whipped right through them.  This is what I would suggest to start with or something similar.  They need something easy to finish to get their confidence up because we don't want to lose them early on...right. 

Have a great day!

 

 

Trudy

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Nana replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 11:10 AM

Trudy

You are absolutely right.  The beginner needs projects that they can complete relatively easily and build confidence.  Although I must say that my very first project was loaded with HSTs.  It was kinda tuff but I finished it and it looked pretty good.  After that I decided that if I could do that I could do anything.....lol

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Eileen replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 11:40 AM

Jodie Davis:

I think Judy has a good point: Doing a project along with other QCAers would be a great help for beginners. We have a new QCA project in the works (I'm not divulging anything Liz!) , but it isn't a beginner project. Could we start something simple with beginners in mind just for this purpose? Lap quilt size? Ideas?

I'm working on videos anyway so we could even pinpoint videos I should make for it.

~Jodie

Jodie,

How about a wall hanging/table topper? One possibility is to stick with a couple simple blocks to get people started - a nine patch or rail fence, maybe flying geese or something with half-square triangles made without cutting the squares in triangles to avoid dealing with the bias (layer squares, mark line in middle, then sew on either side & cut on center line).  I haven't taught any quilting so maybe others who have will have ideas that work better. I think the main thing will be to keep it simple so beginners can learn, maybe make a couple mistakes, but still succeed in the end & gain some confidence in their new skills.

Your video on how to properly trim/cut fabric fits in with beginner skills & I'm sure you've got more in this area already - can't think of others off the top of my head.  Videos will definitely help more visual learners :-)

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Thea suggested using the free patterns on this site for a sampler quilt for the beginners or whoever wants to participate. (I added the whoever wants to participate.) There are a couple of designs in the free blocks that are from block-of-the-month quilts that I think would work. I also think starting with a rail fence or nine-patch would be a good idea. One thing to keep in mind, however, is we don't want them to get bored. We all know that if we have to make 247 HST, for example, you want to pull your hair out before you're finished! ;-)

 


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Since I, too, am a fairly beginning quilter, I think that it would be great to have a Block of the Month for the beginners.  I think that this would be a great way to learn some of the more traditional blocks.

I look forward to hearing more about the beginner's place!!

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Eileen:
How about a wall hanging/table topper?

Eileen, this tip struck a chord with me.  I'm a fairly new, self-taught quilter, and a table runner was the perfect first project for me.  I was able to practice my piecing utilizing a couple of different block styles (to keep things interesting), but I didn't have to invest a lot on fabric, batting, and thread.  I knew that even if I totally messed everything up, I wouldn't be out much time or money.  That gave me the confidence to give it a go!


On the banks of the Mississippi River in north central Minnesota (Brainerd lakes area)

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Anita replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 9:09 PM

Hi Liz S

great Idea . I think this is a great site for beginners.  everyone is so helpful, and nice.

Liz, I think the biggest tip anyone can give a beginner is to remember - have fun! 

to teach them what  a 1/4" seam or a "Scant " is before they ever decide on a pattern to make.

Fabric selection

Start on a small project like a Wall hanging or Baby quilt.

Find a simple stripped pattern consisting of Squares and Rectangles

A Rail fence  design is a great beginners block.

 Folding  fabric and accurate Cutting instructions,( piecing and border cutting.)   avoid the "V" ( believe Jodie has a video out)

 I started out as a beginner on the log cabin like Gini said , it helped me sew a accurate 1/4 seam .

Checking myself ever so often, the finished block measured 8 1/2.

Boy there were lots of unhappy students  in my class.The most important thing the teacher forgot to teach. Check your seams often.

Learning how to square up a block . Squaring up rows , quilt top

Most the time we beginners do not knew how to finish the quilt top.

Stippling or meandering,  stitch in the Ditch, or fancy stitching. ?????????? so whats easy  "Tying the quilt"

The piecing part it easy. the completing of the quilt is the challenge at least for me.


 

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Anita replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 9:13 PM

Jodie Davis:

I think Judy has a good point: Doing a project along with other QCAers would be a great help for beginners. We have a new QCA project in the works (I'm not divulging anything Liz!) , but it isn't a beginner project. Could we start something simple with beginners in mind just for this purpose? Lap quilt size? Ideas?

I'm working on videos anyway so we could even pinpoint videos I should make for it.

~Jodie

P.S. Nana where's Vinton? I keep thinking Vint Hill, but that's not it.

 

That is a great idea

 I have learned more here doing the Mystery Quilt along with everyone then ever in a class room.  I"m a Beginner, well I call myself one.


 

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gini replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 9:51 PM

anita, if you've been making the mystery quilt, i think you can safely say you've moved up from beginner.    gini

gini in north idaho

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Anita replied on Tue, Dec 1 2009 10:03 PM

gini:

anita, if you've been making the mystery quilt, i think you can safely say you've moved up from beginner.    gini

 

Oh Gini You are a sweet heart thanks.


 

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I consider myself after 12 years as an advanced beginner - almost intermediate..  and I love it.  The tip I personally would offer is this, while it is not necessary to have a machine that has all the bells and whistles, try to have the very best machine that you can afford.  There are numerious machines out there, but buy one that also allows you access to the place where you purchased it for the lessons, any question you may have or how to do something.  A better machine will last you a very, very long time, but you have to be able to not just use it a little, but you need to have the help available to learn to use it in many ways that you may not have thought you ever would.  To me, my machine does so many things, including the embroidery, it's easy to thread, easy to operate and when I have a question I can go to at least 3 shops that are dealers for my machine and get help.  If you have a machine that does work well or do what you want to learn to do, it will take a lot of the joy out of quilting and after two brain surgeries, I can tell you that having joy in what you do, regardless of your skill level, is the best feeling in the world.

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I love all the designs, but the thought of making a whole quilt boggles my mind.  Is there a way to show us newer quilters smaller projects we can make to give them a try

I would really appreciate it.  Thanks, shari

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lazyquilter, you are so right! I wish someone had told me that before I bought my last machine.  I just went with what I thought was a reasonably-priced machine in a list of machines reviewed in one magazine (4-5 years ago - don't remember which quilting magazine). It wasn't until after I bought it that someone said what you did.  So, I could have afforded a machine with a bit more to it, but I am happy with what I got.  Some bells & whistles are good - I think you have to decide what you really want and what you're willing to do without or just don't need, then shop. Your other advice - being able to get lessons, having a choice of shops that carry it, etc., are equally important.

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