Quilting and Cross Stitch Communities

I’ve been quilting for a long time.  I likely made my first quilt in about 1988 or so.  I started out making a quilt for our oldest daughter Kelli.  (She is with the quilt in the picture below) She was little and was just transferring into a “big girl” bed.  I made a simple quilt that really reflected where I was at the time.  I had a panel of clowns.  I cut them apart for the clown “blocks”.  The alternate blocks were crazy pieced together crumb/string style.  Then I took all of those blocks to my job and during slow times I would embroider along the seams in bright-colored embroidery floss.

Fast forward a year.  I had three kids under three years old.  I went to visit my mom.  She offered to me that she would watch my kids if I wanted to get out and do her errands.  YES PLEASE!!  She handed me $20 and told me if I saw something for myself to get it.

I ended up finding a quilting magazine and bought it.  A short time later my mom died.  As part of working through the grief process, I worked on and made this quilt top…Yep.  The beginner I was, tackled a “hard” quilt with curved seams.  I thought nothing of it.  All of my previous sewing experience was sewing garments.  Curved seams are no big deal with garments.  I simply transferred that knowledge to quilting.

I wanted to know more about quilting so a friend offered to teach several of us how to quilt.  At the class, we were to make this quilt…

We were also encouraged to bring any quilts we had made before for a small show and tell.  I brought the fan quilt that I had made.

Here was my first experience with quilting police…Someone said, “If you can make that, why are you at a beginning quilt class??”  The other participants chimed in and agreed…even the teacher.  I felt unwelcome.  The tone it all was said wasn’t complimentary, it made me feel like I was raiding their space.

That kind of caboshed me wanting to ever go to quilt classes or quilting retreats.  Even though I really was a beginner when it came to quilting, I ended up feeling like I didn’t fit when I was asked “why are you at a beginning quilt class”.

Keep in mind…I had no idea how to read a quilt pattern.  I had no idea about pressing.  I had no idea how to use the rotary cutter, ruler, and mat that I bought for the class.  I knew nothing about quilting thread.  I really was a newbie.

Sadly it was not my only experience in the quilting community that has been negative.  I have gotten negative comments about:

-the kind of machine I sew on
-how often I change my needle
-that I use a cheap iron
-that I don’t use steam when pressing
-that I don’t pre-wash my fabric
-that most every quilt I make is completely scrappy
-that I don’t belong to a guild
-that I don’t shop much at quilt shops
-that I don’t go on shop hops
-that I don’t worry about pressing
-that I piece my quilt backs
-that I often use sheets for my backings
-that I don’t fret about a seam allowance that is 1/8″ off
-that I fudge seams when necessary
-that I have used fabric that “is not from a quilt shop”
-that I don’t subscribe to quilting magazines
-that I still gravitate towards reproduction fabrics
-that I machine bind
-that I use spray starch
-that I make quilts “with all those little pieces”
-that I sew on a $15 vintage sewing machine

One might think with all the criticism I might have quit quilting.  I don’t.  Why??  Because I truly LOVE quilting.

I feel like I am unlike so many other quilters.  I have ZERO quilt police in me.  ZERO.

I don’t care if you…
-sew with fabric from Walmart, JoAnn’s, quilt shop, or recycled
-never clean out your sewing machine from lint
-change your sewing machine needle
-sew on a $10 Goodwill machine
-sew on a $5000 machine
-tie your quilts
-use sheets for the back
-buy only 108″ backings
-sew with only pre-cuts
-only shop the clearance rack
-go on every bus trip and retreat
-have stacks and stacks of totes full of fabric that you never touch
-only sew wall hangings
-love applique
-have every sewing notion know to man
-bind by hand vs machine
-if you work quickly or not

My feeling is…it’s your hobby.  Do it how you want.  Feel free to gather information and then make choices for yourself.

If your dying goal is to make every seam you sew perfect, go for it.  That’s just not me.  If you want to make sure your quilt seams are completely flat-go for it.  Again, it’s not me.

I don’t always get an acceptance vibe from other quilters and frankly, it makes me sad.  I remember how I initially felt when I went to that first quilting class and was asked, “why are you at a beginning quilt class”.  Others might have been turned away for good.  Not me…I really wanted to be a quilter.

On the contrary, I’ve entered the cross-stitch community.  It is honestly completely different.  One of the things I hear people often say is “Stitch what you love”.

Oh my…what a welcoming phrase.

Like quilting, cross stitch has many avenues.
-You can stitch on an Aida fabric.  You can stitch on linen.
-You can stitch with DMC.  You can stitch with silk or overdyed flosses.
-You can stitch in hand, with a hoop, or on a stand.
-You can do the poke stitch or the sewing stitch.
-You can buy mottled fabric or not.
-You can stitch with a variety of different needles.
-You can stitch huge samplers or small pieces.
-You can stitch original or reproductions.

I’ve never heard people criticizing others for their choices.  I’ve not heard people be negative about stitching with a stand, or on Aida, or using DMC floss or whatever they do.

There is such a more inviting community that encourages people to stitch what they love…whatever that is.  I love that.  It makes me feel like even though I’ve stitched a big piece like my Newcastle Bouquet, I can still classify myself as a beginner.

I’ve really only been stitching for three years and I have lots to learn and things to try.

I’ve done very few specialty stitches.  I’ve never stitched with silks.  There is so much more to learn…and because of the welcoming community, I feel encouraged to try.

This post came about after I got a comment from SewHappy after I machine bound some quilts for the Cresco Ladies.  You can read that post HERE.

SewHappy writes:
But wait I can do it faster. This is how you can do it faster…
This is actually in reference to you, Jo, taking over the binding for the ladies who do it by hand. It is not a race. It is not how many you can get done in a 2.5 hours vs 4 hours. Maybe the lady sit at night and visit with family while sewing. How would you feel if someone took your stitching away from you?
If you were doing a simple Redwork project, I would say try it without a hoop. It makes the project portable.
Slow down and enjoy the day along with the process.”

I feel like I’m again being attacked by quilting police:

First off…I didn’t take anything away from anyone.  The Cresco Ladies were here and they were talking about how they were doing on their goal to have a huge bunch of quilts done by this fall to give away as part of a community project.  They mentioned that they wished they felt better with sewing binding on my machine as binding was something that was slowing them down in reaching their goal.  As we talked, I ended up offering to help with sewing the bindings down by machine.  Being busy trying to reach their goal, they were happy to have the help.  I was happy to be needed and helpful.  After all, I want them to reach their goal. I love helping where I can.

I often get questions about how I bind by machine.  I’ve even made a Youtube video about it.  Of all of my videos, this one is watched the most.

I personally don’t want to sit and hand stitch a binding down.  I’d rather be cross-stitching or any other handwork with my couch time.  Sewing the binding down makes sense to me for my situation.  If other people want to sew their binding by hand, it makes no difference at all to me.  I encourage everyone to “do you”.

People often wonder how long it takes to do.  I was simply being informative.  It took Sandra 4 1/2 hours to stitch ONE binding down.  It took me 2 1/2 hours total to stitch down the binding on the seven quilts I finished binding.  This was purely information as I am often asked how long it takes to machine bind a quilt.  Also, in general, many of the people who read my blog are making charity quilts.  If your goal was to make seven quilts and you had a deadline to make them, wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to cut 29 hours off of the process by learning to machine bind??  Just think of how many more quilts could be made with people in need with that extra 29 hours.  This is all written to be informative…not a race.

Nothing I wrote or did was meant to criticize or take away from anyone.  I think most of you already knew that, but for the few who didn’t, I decided to write this post.

In closing I want to say, I think those people who are part of the quilting police should take a nod from the cross-stitch community.  Encourage people to “sew what you love”…however and with whatever they want.  If that means machine binding, so be it.

I have had many good experiences with the Quilting Community.  I don’t want anyone to think I haven’t. I’ve made friends.  I’ve met people.  I’ve received much love too.  A big huge thank you to anyone who has been kind to me along the way.  I really appreciate it.  The majority of you reading this, I know are my kind of people, the ones who aren’t the quilting police.

73 thoughts on “Quilting and Cross Stitch Communities”

  1. Susan J Schlegel

    Jo, your cross stitch is gorgeous. And your quilts are fabulous! I especially love Kalissa’s crumb quilt . And you are fast, and creative, and publish patterns, and you are there for your family. Just know that the quilt police are generally unhappy people in lots of areas, and keep doing YOU.

  2. I’m lucky to have a teacher/mentor that says “do you.” Like you I sewed for years before learning to quilt. I also heard “why in beginner?” Fortunately, our teacher quickly corrects those words.

  3. Jo, you are always a breath of fresh air. As you know we all learn in different ways. I learn for the most part by visualizing and doing. I seldom saw my Mother use a purchased pattern. She created most of her dress patterns using an old newspaper. Fortunately, I received a good size dose of her talent. Only I do it with quilting rather than tailoring. Life is not perfect and nothing I do is perfect and I am definitely OK with it. However, I must say square blocks and accurate seam allowances do make life much easier. The talent comes in knowing what to do to fix the imperfections without ripping out seams all day long. Thank you

  4. I love all that you do. I am a beginner and in the beginning would not refer to myself as a quilter. I told people I sewed. I make better quilts now than I did 17 months ago. In the beginning I tied my quilts, then I stitched in the ditch the quilts, now I am experimenting with FMQ. My quilting is getting better in part thanks to you and your helpful tips. I love scrappy quilts and use precuts and my Accuquilt for ease of cutting as I have Arthritis especially in my hands and fingers. I am proud to say that I have donated over 30 small quilts to the local Linus Project to date and yes I use flannel from Joann Fabric to make them. I will say Jo you do you and let them do them. You are such a blessing to your family , us and the world,

  5. It makes me upset whenever anyone criticizes someone else for doing something different from them. I will never be an award winning quilter and I’m okay with that. I machine stitch bindings now because my hands can’t deal with holding the quilt and binding while hand sewing. My cross stitching will never win awards either and that’s okay too. Everyone should do what they love and let others do the same without negative input.

  6. I have been thinking about learning to do bindings by machine. First I really don’t like doing bindings and second I’m getting severe arthritis in my hands. just recently I have had tendinitis in my right wrist so it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to do hand work. Please don’t let those sour people make you feel badly about your quilting . I always think they must be terribly unhappy people and probably we should feel sorry for them more than anything. I’m amazed a what you do and a bit jealous of your wonderful quilts and cross stitching. your charity work is also extra special.

  7. Your comments reminded me of an incident Rahat happened while I was a teacher’s assistant. As I entered a second grade classroom, I heard a volunteer grandma say to a little boy “Elephants aren’t blue.” Ouch! No matter one’s age, those negative comments are never forgotten as your list shows.

    1. My son was colorblind so I told his K teachers if she said color all the tree trucks brown and he colored them all purple he did the assignment correctly. She was stunned as she had never thought of it in that way. The important thing is that they were all colored the same color.

  8. AMEN!!!! I agree with you. 100%! Some people need to chill out & quit judging everyone by “their” measuring stick. Love your common sense approach to life!

  9. Thank you for that post. I have been said uncomplimentary things in the past also. I continued to quilt. I call this my hobby. I buy my material at Walmart and JoAnns. I do the very best I can on every quilt and after one is completed I have a great feeling of accomplishment. Jo your quilts are beautiful and you are an inspiration to people. I see one of your quilts I want to make and I tell myself if Jo can do it I can do it!

  10. You keep on doing what you do, however you want to, it is nobody’s business but yours…like my mama used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I wouldn’t still be reading you, etc., if I thought otherwise and if others do, they don’t have to read your posts, etc..

  11. Yay Jo, well said. If people could just realize this is a blog, your story. Unfortunately many just cannot help themselves with an opinion or finding whatever negative thing they can. Quilting has never ever been a one size fits all exercise. It’s very birth was created out of necessity, not perfection. I find it amazing that the transformation of quilting is because there is no “right way”. More people need to call people out about it. You just keep doing what you are doing your way and know that there are many out there that roll our eyes every time we read the same kind of comments you spoke about. I am enthralled with all you do. I wish I had your drive!

  12. Ain’t it the truth?! I have totally abandoned the first quilting group I joined for the precise reasons you cite. I was so excited after attending my first quilt show and was anxious to learn. This bee (who all referred to themselves as “professional quilters” even though I now know they are not!) was all about humiliating newbies and making them wish they had never even seen a quilt.

    Now I sew with equally accomplished but more realistic quilters who have been welcoming and nurturing and friendly. They admire each other’s work and give good advice when asked. I have learned a lot from them, and not only about quilting.

    I’m sorry you seem to have been hurt by some folks like the ones who disdained me. I hope you’ll find a nice group to sew with. In my experience quilters are generally a supportive, generous group. Like the ones on your site!

  13. Thank you! Sometimes I have been chastised for not entering the county fair…….I love your attitude it has saved me from the incredibly stifling school of prefect points. You are a life saver!

  14. I feel so fortunate that the lady that taught me to quilt stressed accuracy! Learning that has served me well. She didn’t care what fabric I used, what machine I sewed with, I just had to be accurate. I’m grateful. When I finally my sewing machine, I was referred to as ‘the girl who didn’t buy the embroidery unit.’ I thought that was so petty but it never slowed me down. I’ve never missed having the embroidery unit either! It’s great if people like doing embroidery…I just wanted to make quilts!

  15. Nicely written! We all have our own way of doing things and that’s what brings us joy. I enjoy your writing, projects, and helpful hints. I’m one of your cheerleaders

  16. You are SO right – everyone should quilt/stitch/enjoy a hobby or craft in any manner that makes sense to them! We all have our preferences – and none of us needs the “project police”.
    I certainly understood your blog about binding for the Cresco Ladies as an effort to be helpful to them in reaching their goal – I wonder how SewHappy missed that they were happy to have your help?
    Keep on doing what makes you happy – and helpful to others!!!

  17. Virginia Grenier

    Yep, you are my kind of people, or I’m your kind of people, whichever way you want to look at it. I wish we lived closer to each other. Would love to get together with you. I too have run into the “quilt police” and it did put me off quilting for a few years but all the scraps (leftover from making clothing) kept calling my name to do something with them. :-)

    I tell people, again and again, that quilting is an artform not an exact science. There isn’t any right or wrong, just like or dislike. Do whatever works and appeals to you.

    I do have to say that I’ve found a much more excepting group of quilters when I moved from the Twin Cities to where I am up here in the north country of Minnesota (about 2 hours from the Canadian border). It was so refreshing to find “my peeps”. Too bad I had to move 4 hours away to find them.

  18. Wow! Some people are so judgemental. Honestly I love to sew binding on by hand however I machine stitch all donation quilts. So much faster and no one cares except the quilt police. Life would be so much easier if we all relaxed and let each person enjoy their hobby/craft in their own way.

  19. I am so sorry you have experienced such negativity. I wish everyone could be more careful and caring in their words. I love everything you do, please keep doing you!

    1. Judith Fairchild

      Criticizing , you for volunteering to machine bind quilts is petty. If she had read the the blog she would have understood the whys. Jo I enjoy your creativity,and loving care of others. Keep doing you being happy.

  20. Jo – I score 17 out of 21 on your “negative comments” list! I’ll take that as a positive that you have set a great example of “you do you” and that I am in good company. Thanks for sharing your quilting, cross stitch, family stories, recipes, thrifting, and wisdom. And thanks to those readers who respond positively. You all make my day brighter and help me to focus on the good things in life.

  21. Yes, let’s all make our quilts the way we like doing them and to heck with the quilting police! We’re not doing our quilting to please them. It’s for our own personal enjoyment. I don’t care how you go about making your quilts or what machine or iron you use. I just like your quilts!

  22. Thank you jo for your message ! I too have been to quilt classes and have been criticized, each time I went it was something new . When’s the last time you changed your needle , don’t know , omg . Don’t ever use that thread you have , but I have a lot of it , use it and never buy it again . Gee. Don’t ever use a sheet for backing , why ? Don’t use clothes . I finally got fed up and do not go to classes . I read a lot , watch videos . I’m still at it , still use the same thread , sheets , shirts . I finally said , the women from years ago used whatever they had , pieces of clothing from everyone and everything , some of the quilts are still around , called antiques , and people spend alot of money on them . So quilt police , be nice please.

  23. Your post was so interesting. I’ve had very few negative experiences in the quilting world. Mostly I think the quilting community is supportive and generous. However I do find negative comments on blogs much more often then in “real” life. I think the anonymity of the internet encourages people to be negative. Anyway, I love your blog! You are so real. My quilting is a long way from great. I often have cut off points or seams that are a wee bit off. There have been times I just want to give up and stop quilting for good. But then I know how much I enjoy it. My quilts are often pretty and my family like them, so I guess I’ll keep at it.

    1. Elaine
      I think you are right that people in person don’t say much. After 12 years of blogging, I’ve heard a lot. It’s okay though as the criticism is nothing compared to the good.

  24. I am happy you have been able to adjust to your own ways. I ran into the COVID police this week. I was getting ready for sewing retreat, agreeing to all CDC guidelines. The leader added one of her own that would have been had for me to follow- using a mask every time I coughed or sneezed. I have asthma and allergies. Don’t know how I was going to do that. Long story short, I was uninvited to camp because I would not guarantee wearing a mask all the time at the correct time. I hope we can all have fun with our hobbies.

    1. Excuse the leader but how do you have time to grab your mask when a sneeze comes on? I would keep a kleenex handy or cough/sneeze into my elbow like hey teach in school.

  25. I have to agree with you Jo—I have none of the quilting police characteristics either. I love seeing what others are doing, and I love all of it. I have noticed, however, that a lot of quilters like to nitpick and advise everyone on how things should be done. I for one, get tired of the critical remarks. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense.

  26. When I was learning to quilt, I was invited to a group that was very friendly and helpful. We had a visitor once who was visiting from another state. She belonged to a guild and after hearing her talk, I told myself I never wanted to be part of a guild. Not sure there are any in my area, but still wouldn’t want to join. Sounded like too many rules. I am definitely not a perfectionist. I do my very best. I like reading your blog, seeing what is going on and what you are making, that is my kind of meeting. No pressure, all good vibes! Thanks.

  27. I’m with you 100%. I’m more likely to be arrested By the quilt police than ever turn into one! It’s unfortunate that misunderstandings and disagreements seem to happen so much more easily when reading a post or leaving a comment versus when speaking in person. “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” One of my favorite songs ever lol

  28. I’m with you Jo. I have no doubt the quilt police would give me poor grades on many things. I don’t do much of anything perfectly. I love quilting and I will do what I want with all my human errors. I’ve never had one refused or returned.

    I once entered a fantastic quilt in a show. My 8yo niece and I designed it together one step at at time. We both loved it. I was looking at the judge comments at the show when 2 ladies said “what on earth was she thinking” with nasty looks on their faces. Never again did I enter a quilt in a show. I was heartbroken that this wonderful quilt was so distasteful to them.

    Thank you for being out here and speaking up for so many of us. I’m sorry you get comments that criticize. Anonymity is the plague of this century I think.

    Happy Tuesday Jo! Sweet dreams to you.

  29. It’s sad when people don’t realize how much they impact others. I did not grow up sewing. I didn’t make clothing, etc. Putting in zippers is still a hurdle for me. Even when I see some cute bag patterns, that zipper process stops me from making them.

    There were people when I started quilt making that were very encouraging. They may not even realize what they said or did. There were others that were not helpful….even though they tried to be.

    Many people told me I couldn’t claim to have made a quilt because I don’t do the quilting. I send my quilts to a longarmer and they make my quilts look amazing. So, I guess I’m a “piecer” and not a “quilter”.

    I am with you, Jo. Whatever someone wants to do, however they want to do it, just enjoy it. Done is better than perfect!

  30. Sorry you felt the need to publicly chastise SewHappy for her comment. You don’t like being criticized, why would you think she would like it? You dont create a very safe space for your readers to make comments. You both have valid points. As far as your thoughts on the cross stitch community, they are just as critical as the Quilt police. Having been cross stitching for 40 years I’ve heard it all, including “why are you still using Aida, that’s for beginners”, “serious stitchers” only use linen etc. Blah blah blah….I’m sure I’ll be the next person you feel you need to hold my comments up to public ridicule.

    1. Happily, to date, I haven’t had any criticism with cross-stitch police. I guess I’m still in the newbie stage. I love people saying “finished is better than done”. I love hearing “stitch what you love”.

    2. Kalissa Friedman

      So your complaint is that she doesn’t create a safe space for people to criticize her? Yeah, I guess that’s true. I also don’t create a safe space for people to criticize me. I’m sure you don’t either. In the blogging world people hide behind the anonymity of a key board and they sometimes need to realize their words have consequences and there is someone on the other end!

      1. Well said Kalissa. I really dislike that people think its ok to say whatever they want because they are anonymous online. Over the years I have read many blogs and have never felt the need to criticize anyone over what they wrote. After all they totally have a right to say whatever they want on their blog and if you really don’t care for their opinions stop following them. Your mom shares some of the most interesting things on her blog and it is one of my favorite to read.

  31. Well said Jo! It’s kinda funny about people when I went to our quilt guild I ask about sitting at one table and they said someone was sitting there. So I sat a table by myself and from then one I just went and sat if someone sat with me fine and if not oh well. I came to listen to the guess speaker! And it great that you are just being you!! Love your blog and the way you look at things and all that you have shared with us !

  32. Karen from ON Canada

    Jo I just want to say that I love reading your blog about your life, family and especially all your quilting advice. I have gone to your blog many times looking for quiltng inspiration and knowledge. In fact I have gone out the next day to buy the magazines you and your daughter have been “published” in. So you keep “doing it your way” because I for one am a “fan”. It’s sad how some people have to be so judgemental and “have the last word”. They must be very unhappy people. Take care Jo .

  33. Jo, I’ve been reading your blog now for a few months. I enjoy the glimpse into your real life-family, friends, gardening, cooking, all the ups and downs. It’s refreshing to know others still find these things important as well.
    I just received the latest American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. Your Christmas Star quilt is beautiful! The colors are amazing. You go girl!

  34. Jo I just want to say that I love reading your blog about your life, family and especially all your quilting advice. I have gone to your blog many times looking for quiltng inspiration and knowledge. In fact I have gone out the next day to buy the magazines you and your daughter have been “published” in. So you keep “doing it your way” because I for one am a “fan”. It’s sad how some people have to be so judgemental and “have the last word”. They must be very unhappy people. Take care Jo .

  35. Whoa … this made me think back to when I first met you Jo. I was working at my LQS. You came in and asked if you could take pictures. I was so IMPRESSED to meet someone who had their own “blog”. I became engaged with your story and the knowledge you shared. I thought you were a celebrity status and then I realized you were published in magazines. You certainly were someone to admire. I was challenged by your scrappy quilts and your love for different patterns than I normally stayed away from. You then became a real friend …. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in God Winks and when God places certain people in your path …. It’s for a reason. And I’m so happy for you!! The world is a better place because of you! And I’m a better quilter because of you!

  36. Here’s the thing, it’s just as wrong to criticize someone for taking the extra time to hand piece, hand quilt, or hand bind as it is to criticize someone for doing all that on the machine. Saying to someone, “you take 5 hours to do what I can do in 2? Just give it to me and I’ll do it” doesn’t sound like a very generous offer.

    “Sandra said no…then her husband got sick and she gave in and said yes as the ladies are trying to reach a big goal to give away something crazy like 100 quilts.” So Sandra “gave in” because her husband was sick and she couldn’t devote the time she usually did but it sounds like she was perfectly happy doing it her way normally.

    Everybody finds their own way. I’m old and I’m a hand quilter, just don’t personally care for machine quilting. You know what? I think its freaking AWESOME that so many people are having their quilt tops machine quilted because it’s very likely that many of them wouldn’t get made otherwise. It’s my place to cheer them on and say, Great Job!!! The point is to get them finished and take pride in your work no matter what path you choose.

  37. Oh Jo, I applaud you for all you give of yourself!
    I worked in quilt shops for 24 years and I would say that the majority of quilters I encountered were very supportive. We often said in our clubs and classes that there are no quilt police.
    It seems on social media it is sadly so easy to make snarky comments.
    Yes, there are all kinds of quilters as there are all kinds of people. You encourage others to use their skills and make something lovely to share. Thank you!

  38. Jo,
    I’m like you I don’t make show quilts. I make quilts to be used. The machine binding holds up so much better when the quilt is washed a lot more. I think most charities like the sewed binding as they hold up. I don’t do a lot of charity quilts I’m to slow getting my family’s made . I’ve only been quilting 6 yrs. I’m also 76 yrs young. I just wish I did half the things you do. All the quilting, cross stitch, child care, and grandkids really keep you hopping. You have amazing stamina. I help my granddaughter with her 3 boys under 4 yrs old , boy I’m pooped at the end of the day but I love it. I think people who say negative things must be unhappy people and criticizing others makes them feel big. I’ve read your blog for several yrs. you have a wonderful family. Losing Kramer hasn’t been easy but your amazing kids have stepped up to support you all the way. That’s a testimony to how well y’all were and still are as parents. May you just continue on your path and not pay any attention to the crappy big mouths.

  39. Luckily I’ve come across very few negative quilters. The one that really stands out was the one who ran out of thread at a class and I tossed her a spool of my inexpensive thread. She looked at it distastefully and said “I don’t know if my machine will sew with this.” My very first class was a string quilt class taught by a lady in her 90s. The class was free as she provided totes of scraps to choose from. Her motto was to sew with what you have and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  40. My goodness, I had no idea you ere on the receiving end of such negative comments! How ridiculous! That lady obviously doesn’t read your posts carefully( or jumps in with her own weird thoughts before reading) or she would know exactly where you were coming from – heart and love. So, carry on being YOU, Jo, sewing the most amazing quilts, creating amongst your life’s very rich tapestry of home, family, community, childcare, and looking after your health.

  41. Jo, you described my quilting demeanor to a tee. I made my first quilt at about age 7, just the right size for my Barbie doll. I came from a long line of sewers and quilters. I made a lot of my own clothes throughout my wholelife. Between ages 16 and 20 I started several quilt tops, but only got 2 of them finished. I got married, had 2 girls and went to work full time, and 40+ years later I’m a grandmother and retired. 18 mo. ago I finished one of the UFO’s I started years ago. A baby quilt for my grand-neice. Then I found a bag of quilt blocks and several pieces of fabric at the thrift store and made a nice quilt top. I have yet to get it quilted. Then last year I made 4 more full size quilts for my oldest grandson and his 3 best friends for graduation. I tied two of them and made a first attempt at machine quilting on the other two. I soon discovered I need lots of practice machine quilting. Then my youngest grandson wanted to make a quilt, so we spent weekends making one for him. I was on a roll. I took most of my stimulus money and went on a fabric buying spree at Joanns, and of course, I waited for the sales.
    I decided to make a miniature quilt for the fair this year, a Bargello flag. I got a Blue ribbon and a lot of invites to local quilt clubs. Most of the quilts that come out of these clubs are made from designer fabrics… not my thing. I feel that quilts are to be used and scrappy ones get used the most. One of my UFO’s is a Double Wedding Ring totally scrappy. The only new fabric is the background and the backing. Some day I’ll get it finished. I consider myself as an accomplished seamstress, but a beginner at quilting, but I am doing it my way, and I am still using the same sewing machine I used to make my very first quilt. I recently acquired a treadle machine and am teaching my grandchildren how to sew with it. Simple quilt blocks seem to be the perfect first sewing project. The best way to learn is to teach. People like you that share their knowledge are invaluable. Thank you for all you share.

  42. I”ve probably been guilty a time or two but so forgive me. Its not meant to be mean, it just comes out. One woman rolls her eyes at guild. I go to my ARts and Crafts group at church and I get lots of fuzzie’s there. If someone asks for help, I help. I think I’ll stay with my small guild and my church. There is a larger guild here that puts out gorgeous quilts. Maybe I wont go there. I do what I do.

  43. Dear Jo,
    I am so glad that “you do you”. I have been reading your blog since 2010. Other blogs come and go in my life, yours is a constant companion. You encourage and challenge, you try new things or sometimes new old things. Keep on being yourself, you do it well!
    You have your life and you share it so generously with us all. Thanks.

  44. You have but one life. Live it how you see fit. I, too, am a scrappy quilter, I sew exclusively on vintage machines, I sew to please me, if you like my work that makes me happy, if you don’t, I don’t care.

    Keep doing what you do and don’t listen to the voices. Quilting should be pleasurable. Your finished quilts show you love what you are doing.

    Are these negative Nellies published quilters? …..that in itself says a lot about your work.

  45. Christine Burch

    I have been quilting for only about 4 years now and I haven’t dipped my toes too hard into my local quilting community partly because of the judge mental attitude of a lot of people in the online quilting community. Offering advice in a kindly fashion is one thing but so many people act like their way is the “right” way. I have been truly surprised by “holier than thou” attitude of many quilters online. This is my hobby, what I choose to do in my time. And for me I embrace your mentality and the mentality of Jenny Doan at Missouri Star Quilt, done is better than perfect. I celebrate the moments when I don’t lose the points in my blocks but I am not seam ripping 50 blocks to get there. And for now I don’t have the patience to spin my seams. Maybe some day, today I will think of you Jo and see because it makes my heart happy to create.

  46. Jo, I don’t think it is necessarily the communities. I just think it is the person/s that are in them. If a person is a quilt police then they will most likely be a x stitch police. You maybe just have encountered someone in both groups. That is just my opinion. Some people are just like that and are most likely that way in every aspect of life. They police everything. Keep it up. I really enjoy your blog. pam

  47. I love this post! As a young new self taught quilter many years ago I was talked into entering one of my quilts in the fair for every one to see. It was a pinwheel quilt I had made out of seersucker and used buttons for the pinwheel centers that had been my Grandmothers. She had recently passed away and I wanted to use the buttons as a way to honor her. I used the seersucker because it was a fabric that said spring to me and it was a spring quilt. I wrote all of this in the explanation. Well, it did not get a ribbon at all and the judge wrote that seersucker was not a quilting fabric and the buttons should all have been the same size and I can’t even remember what else I had done wrong. I was heart broken and so upset. I have never entered another quilt into any thing that will be judged and never will. It took all of the joy out of that quilt.

  48. I have had charities ask for machine binding. Especially if the quilt will be laundered often. They feel that it will last longer. I am not very good at machine binding. I am currently practicing on placemats to try and improve that skill. I happen to enjoy the binding by hand process during my evening tv time as I don’t have to count or think. But we can always learn something new so this old dog is giving machine binding a try. Who knows I may learn to love it.

  49. Making something becomes an “art” when you do it your way without following the so-called rules, otherwise it’s just a “craft.” Once again I’m amazed at people who think they can judge someone and who don’t hesitate to give an opinion, even when it’s not welcome. So more power to you, Jo, for doing things your own way. PS Cleaning lint from your sewing machine makes it last longer, so that’s the one critique I might listen to, also needle changing because when you’re buzzing along with a project you often don’t realize how blunt your needle is. Think of it as changing the oil on your car, or replacing the tires when the treads get thing.

  50. Hi Jo
    I bless the day i found your blog. You are a breath of fresh air, I too am a newbie , very green to say the least, you have inspired me to continue my efforts and not fret about pressing in a certain direction when putting rows together. Plus just relax and enjoy. I have taken a leaf out of your book, with’ sewing time s’ in short intervals. It has helped me progress with completing my Christmas lap quilts. Hurrah. Its amazing how much pressing I can get done in the first hour of the day when all are still asleep.

  51. I ‘heard’ those same voices in my past – and I’ve been quilting over 45 years. I totally taught myself, and while I’ll never win prizes for my quilts (both as none are perfect & I’d never submit my quilts for judgment), I know that MANY folks have received a quilt from me and their face shows everything they felt. Joy, surprise, shock, and above all, they were thankful. Several of those people still have the quilt I made them, and it was decades ago, so I know they prize what I made. The rest of people who criticize can go away – my quilts I make are my “mission” – those bits of fabric are given with love (and often prayers for that person), and I enjoy doing it.

  52. I have met snobs on both sides of the aisle whether it being quilting or cross-stitching. I started cross-stitching at the age of 8 back in the mid 70’s when it was extremely popular and continued to do so until my early 20’s when I got burned out on it.
    I started quilting when I was 12 back in 1977. I am still quilting in 2021.
    Cross-stitching along with embroidery and other needlecrafts were going to the wayside for many that used to do them and that’s okay. Many of us did other crafts too all throughout from macrame’, knitting, crocheting, porcelain petals, ceramics, and oh so much more. I have found snobs in all of the above. They aren’t police. They are snobs.

    I am starting to want to get back into cross-stitching from looking at all of the beautiful projects you do. I still have a lot of supplies for it. But, quilting is my passion out of all of the crafts I know how to do. You tempt us with so many beautiful quilts too by the way. LOL! I recently bought the magazine American Patchwork & Quilting to make the quilt you made in that issue with the Halloween fabrics.

    Suffice it to say, people are going to be who they are and we should not let them have the power over us to bug us. You do you which you do so very very well and don’t worry about things people say that rub you the wrong way. I along with many many others love you to pieces Jo!..and your beautiful family too!

  53. Thank you for making me feel so much better. I tried to join a quilt club here and all they seemed interested in were refreshments. And oh so critical of others joining their group. Never went back or joined another group.
    I could be your Mom, I so admire you.
    Thanks Ginny. Also dog lover

  54. Sharon in Calif

    I only read two blogs,yours and Bonnie Hunters.I totally look forward to yours everyday! I feel like you could be a sister ,you are so real,I love your quilts. I’ve been quilting 46 years,have not made a Perfect one yet!when I first started quilting I loved antique or civil war fabric the best,46 years later it’s what I still love. .You being you is what I love. Keep it up!

  55. Ignore the naysayers! I am sure that more than one critic has hit you with “the right way” to do things and how you are falling short, over the years, but who are they to judge? You keep on being and doing you and those of us who enjoy and cherish you as you are, will just keep on doing what we do – following. enjoying, and supporting all you are and all you share with us. God Bless you and your family, Jo!

  56. well poo! I had a comment written, then the power went out, so I’m taking ti as a sign to shush up on the whole thing. Other than to say maybe the commenter just had someone try and tell her how wonderful machine binding is and she should (must?) do hers that way. Last straw and all that. Also not sure why naming her was of added value to the conversation.

    Anyway – this part I can’t let go without saying:
    @Sally C. – Get that quilt out, give that judge a mental “F… Off! I LOVE my quilt!” Sorry for the language, but sometimes it must be done. Enjoy the heck out of your quilt, think fondly of your grandmother, and get that judge out of your head. You were ahead of time – now wonky blocks, non-traditional materials, and embellishments of all sorts are quite the thing right now. They are given fancy category names of improv quilts, art quilts, etc.

  57. Thank you Jo for addressing this issue as a blog post. It is well written. The Comments section is meant to be an area of shared community, where readers can post questions and share their own experiences and ideas. Criticism is an attack on a person, and it does NOT belong in the Comments. Criticism doesn’t create a safe place, and it can inhibit the conversation amongst the the readers and the blog’s author.

    Just a reminder: How a blog author lives their life is not up for debate. It is their life period. Same goes for each of us readers.

  58. Hi Jo, from Australia, I saw your blog about the quilting police. I love your blogs, you are my kind of person and I think you are very clever. Not to mention caring and love your family, that is also all I want to do as well. Echoing other people’s comments, don’t let the naysayers get you down. As I read down the list of negative comments you had received, my response to most of them were SO WHAT?! And to the rest I thought that you were very clever and very sensible. You are an inspiration to me regarding your time management as well as your quilting skills, and your love for your family. And I love your sewing room – you deserve it. Hang in there Jo, and God bless you.

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