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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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Anita replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 10:08 PM

sharikovarik@hotmail.com:

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

 

Hi Shari a small Wall hanging ,or baby quilt would be fine.


 

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One thing I would like to see is a "gadgets" or "supplies" section.  Somewhere users can post items they think are essential for the beginning quilter (cutting mat, rotary cutter, rulers, etc), things that could be put off buying until later, and things that just aren't needed.

I think a post or blog about which items need to be the best quality (and what that is) and which items can be less expensive models that still get the same results.  An example might be, do you really need that $100 ironing board, or will the $20 version work just as well.  

Also, what could be made using things around the house, like a marking board of fine-grit sandpaper and a clipboard, instead of spending big bucks on it.

More later,

Huntsville, AL

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Nana replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 12:20 AM

Karen

I think something like that could be done.  We need to get Liz to maybe set up a spot just for the list and not chatter.  But we will see what can be done.

Vinton, Virginia

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Dear Liz,

I have made several quilt tops, but I don't have any experience with machine quilting my quilts.  Up until now I have always had someone else do them for me.  I would like to see some beginner instruction on machine quilting.  Maybe that already exists on the QCA, but I have not seen it.

I love the site!  Keep up the good work!

Nancy C.

Saginaw, MI

 

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I have found when looking at patterns that many of the directions are not "new quilter friendly".  More specific directions would be helpful.  I have been quilting for many years and still  find some of them confusing.  More measurements as you build blocks;ie what should this section measure before I add the next.  A gal I am teaching now has lots of half square triangle block and nowhere does the pattern tell her what they should square up to.  The more we can help young quilters, the more quilters we will gain.  Sandy

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I think you should include some articles about the basic use of rulers and rotary cutters. Too many of the magazines and articles just assume that a beginner knows exactly how to use them.

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learning to cut & trim after each step is the most important lesson to learn if you want points to match

Saundra

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I'm for sure "still" a beginner!  I would really appreciate more information on adding sleeves and "other" options for hanging quilts. Such as ribbons or tabs.   That part is more or less just "touched" on.  Thanks, Betty

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Linda replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 9:51 AM

I think suggestions are great. I think some specifics to a beginnkng quilter should be a great instruction book.  I have been quilting about 3 years and I still get mine out to refresh my mind on a project I am attempting.  I re read and look at the pictures to make sure I am doing the corners or binding or whatever correctly.  Also a rotary cutter and mat are a must.  When picking out a rotary cutter one should actually hold it and make sure it fits their hand comfortably.  I am so glad I belong to QCA it is a great sight for information.  Everyone is so helpful and I enjoy the comments.  I would enjoy doing a beginning sampler with new quilters as I am learning daily.  I just finished a scotty dog crib quilt.  Sorry it is already in the mail and I forgot to take pictures.  I am far from perfect, but I guess that is why we call it homemade.

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gini replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 1:40 PM

rlhoss, i'm sorry we didn't get to see your quilt.     and as for perfect,    "will everybody who's perfect, please raise their hands.   what?  no hands?    well, i guess you're in good company here".    if i haven't welcomed you before, it's great to have you here.    gini

gini in north idaho

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Check with your local quilt shops and ask about guilds in your area. They are a great source for classes,

mentors, inspiration, new friends and fun.  Many times workshops are held and these are great ways to learn.

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Learn to cut accurately and sew straight.  Do at least some of the practice exercises in any of the listed books.

As a general all-around reference:  Fons and Porter's Quilter's Complete Guide.  I look up techniques I use infrequently, like binding a quilt.  It covers most of the techniques you would ever need.  After that,

For hand piecers:  Carla J. Hassel's You Can Be a Super Quilter (out of print, but how I learned.  Still have fond memories of my toddlers and those pillows.), or Jinny Beyer's Quiltmaking By Hand (comes with a CD-ROM and/or DVD).

For hand quilters:  Roxanne McElroy's That Perfect Stitch.  There are other good alternates.

For hand applique:  any book by Elly Sienkiewicz.  Her books also teach some basic hand embroidery and calligraphy.

For foundation piecing by machine:  any book by Carol Doak (some comes with a CD-ROM and/or DVD).

For rotary cutting:  Judy Martin's Ultimate Rotary Cutting Reference.  Nancy Johnson-Szrebo's book on Omnigrid rulers is a good alternate.

For machine piecing:  Donna Thomas' Small Talk.  Alternatively, Sally Collins' The Art of Machine Piecing.  Both contain excellent pictures and tips to improve your rotary cutting and machine piecing, whether or not you actually want to make miniatures. 

For machine quilting:   Machine Quilting by Harriet Hargrave.  Any book by Karen McTavish will improve your machine quilting (some come with a CD-ROM and/or DVD).

Beyond that, take classes, join a quilting group, read books and magazines, buy patterns as your interests move you.  There's always a new specialized technique to learn (some of them are awful duds, too).  But most of all, practice.  Sew to your heart's content.

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And, taking off my quilter's hat and putting on my experienced, degreed, professional IT hat in actually building these things, do you really want to duplicate the well-organized and freely available information at http://quilting.about.com/ ?  I'd bet, if you asked, they would be more than willing for you to provide a simple link.

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Hi, I agree with Cheri, I have made small  personalized wall hangings and pillows but to attempt a large quilt is very daunting for me and I'm afraid I would not finish it.  I guess I'm a instant satisfaction type person.  But I do like the process of making something.  I would love a 'Block of the Month Club" for beginners. 

 Elaine

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What are points (at the bottom of post) and how do I get more?  LOL

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