Sewing & Quilting: Back to Basics

When is it the right time to stop calling yourself a beginner quilter?

It was not too long ago that I considered myself a member of this category. Since I started to learn to sew and quilt back in 2012, I have learnt many skills and techniques. I have made a total of 5 quilts, a couple of patchwork pillows, a reversable sewing machine cover, a mug rug and a simple Christmas stocking.
Perhaps I have forgotten something, yes, my embroidery projects which include my detailed quilt labels that were mini embroidery pieces all on their own.
When I first began to learn to quilt I didn’t even know how to sew a stitch, neither by hand nor on the maschine. Since then, I have become a keen hand sewer and embroiderer, as well as, a good hand quilter.
As for my maschine sewing skills and maschine quilting skills, I have yet to gain the necessary confidence that would enable me to float effortlessly from one project to the next, that is if I  could actually decide on a project.


My first hand embroidered and self-made/ designed quilt label.
My first quilt was a child’s bed quilt made with lots of love, for my niece Stephanie, seen far left with a tiger face painted on her. (Also to be seen is my mother’s side of the family, cousins and aunties and mini cousins) My mom is the one in the blue at the far left.
I hand pieced the blocks, learning on the internet and from books the needed skills and then went for help from the professionals. I received the necessary guidance from my ‘local’ quilt shop, which was the team work of the two ladies Maya and Irène who run my favorite quilt shop here in Switzerland, The Quilt Place, just outside of Zurich, near Winterthur. I finished the piecing of the sashing and front and back by maschine and maschine quilted it on my simple starter Bernina Bernette 15.
 This quilt was a real learning curve, so after that I tried something much easier: The
Windmill Quilt.
Following that I designed this quilt, which was easy peasy with a simple half-square triangle block design

and then along came The Granny Square quilt


and finally a flannel sampler quilt for my husband Yves’ Quilt.

Those last three were generally big challenges as my Bernette is really a trial.
For that reason I have hand quilted all but my first quilt. As for the binding of the quilt all of my quilts are hand bound.
Although I have developed a passion for hand sewing and quilting, I know that if I want to up my quilting and sewing game and make more,  I will need to learn how to piece and quilt the quilts entirely on the maschine, and maschine bind them.
There are so many people I would like to make quilted or hand sewn and embroidered gifts for but until I can make things quickly and confidently I can forget it.
This does of course not mean that I will be giving up my hand quilting all together, rather I will hand quilt only things that are made for myself or my husband. No one can imagine how much time and care goes into a hand quilted item, unless they themselves are quilters.
All of the quilts mentioned (minus my niece’s quilt) are showing in my local quilt group’s quilt show which is held every 3 years. This is my first quilt show and I have been very busy getting everything ready lately. Today is the first day of the quilt show here in St. Gallen and it lasts all month. I will write a seperate post on that once I get photos.
If you follow my blog regularly, you may remember that I made some quilty goals and resolutions for 2016. Most importantly, my word of the year was FLOURISH. Getting back to the basics in both my quilting and sewing is part of that challenge to myself. By getting back to the basics and studying the techniques and skills behind piecing and quilting quilts I will be able to improve my quilting and sewing skills and thus will be more confident and be able to make more of the projects I dream of doing.
Not only that, but I will be able to give beginner quilters a little advice on tips and techniques that I have learnt along the way.
This is going to be a test for me, but one I welcome.
Leaving you on that note, please think back to my original question and help me define an answer: When is it the right time to stop calling yourself a beginner quilter? What categories do you make for yourself as a quilter? Where do you see yourself fitting and why? Are you a hand quilter, a modern quilter, a dream quilter? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on the matter.
I wish you all a happy Sunday.

12 thoughts on “Sewing & Quilting: Back to Basics

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  1. I think you move from being a beginner when you both have some skills (matching points and such) and experience. And it has something to do with your personality. Some of us really struggle with embracing our level of expertise, with saying “yes, I’m good at this,” because it sounds too much like bragging and we don’t want to be braggarts. So I guess the question could also be, when do you take pride in your abilities? How good do you need to be to be past beginner? Going back to the beginning of this reply, I’d say when you master the basics you’re definitely not a beginner anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Berte,
      thanks for such a deep and meaningful response to the question I posed in my post. I know it is very difficult to feel that I am bragging, but at the same time, there are some times I don’t mind and that is when I feel good about what I can do. When does one take pride in their abilities? Yes that is difficult to define. Me I am one who takes my craft not only as an art but as a science. I love the ins and outs so it sounds like I am a perfectionist at times. When in reality I just want to know how to do it right, after that I might do it another way because it is quicker, easier or cheaper even. Thank you so much for your reply. It is good to know that someone is reading my words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Jodie, I think we may be cut from the same cloth. I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist, where I feel it’s more about knowing how to do it properly. And once I do, I’m happy to take whatever shortcuts I find that still deliver decent results. It’s like what a former teacher of mine said, when talking about typography: you need to know the rules before you break them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s when you start to plan new projects before you’ve finished the last one. Which must mean I’m a super-advanced expert by now!
    Whereabouts in St. Galen is your guild’s exhibition bring held, by the way, would love to visit it if I can…


    1. Click to access haldenquilter2016.pdf

      I don’t know if this link will work. How is your German. I am working on a post for the translation and a few pics. In any case you can find the information on the patch quilt website.
      Please let me know if you have any questions.

      Re post: thanks so much for stopping in again. I have that problem too, planning too many before you are even finished, or begun for that matter! Definitely would like to meet you if you are down this way.


    2. Lynn if you really want to come to St. Gallen, you must include a Textile Museum visit, there is a quilt show there too, that is in the center of St. Gallen, walking distance (5 mins.) from the train. I could meet you. I haven’t been yet.


  3. I love this post! The question is very good too! My two cents is if I am still focused on the same hobby for four years I’m not a beginner any more! I love your focus and dedication to quilting. You have a patience that I was not born with! Knowing you are worthy is different from bragging though. It’s like claiming the title, claim it and then tell it to the world. You are a quilter and a damn good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Robyn, I wish you could see the quilt I was working on BDA. It looks so good at the quilt show! That one quilt is for me a reminder that yes, I have come a long way! Thanks Robyn!


  4. Thank you for following my blog. Your quilts are all lovely, and far from beginner-ish! I love your extensive use of white in sashing and borders, as this gives the quilts such a fresh “look”. I have been quilting for 25 years, and am VERY bad at machine quilting. I have a good Bernina Aurora 440 machine, so there’s no excuse for me. Nowadays I’ll only machine quilt small projects such has handbags etc. In any case, hand quilting is a lovely peaceful occupation in front of the tv in the evenings. Over the years I have built up too many scraps, and now make nothing but scrap quilts to use them up. This gives the opportunity to be a bit experimental without risking expensive fabric!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Viv, it is so nice to meet you. You are certainly a long ways away. But I’ve been to Normandy twice so can kind of imagine where you are. I know I’m not a beginner but where machines, and new techniques are concerned the fear is still there! That is a bit of a joke, only a bit. I absolutely adored your Arthur’s Seat quilt, the log cabin and stitching is just my kind of thing. I miss hand quilting, at the moment I have nothing to quilt only piece! But I am going to add some embroidery to my latest project…. when I have time. I like that you verbalized the fresh part of my quilts, I love using neutral fabrics in between all the colors, I always feel happier with more light and space. I dream of one day using all my scraps for something. Right now though I am just at the beginning, well relatively speaking! Hand quilting takes time, so I have only made a handful of proper sized quilts. I love utility quilts and the look of hand stitching like you used on your log cabin. I think I am no longer a beginner in that department and am now not so worried about working in color like you did. Lets keep in touch.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Jodie, I know I am a novice, and can’t imagine moving on from there, but even as a novice, quilting brings me so much pleasure! What stitch do you use for embroidering your labels? It looks very neat and pretty. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you love it and that you love it as much as me! Running stitch mostly. Though when Iwant to do something fancy like a frame then split stitch. Thanks for stopping in Penny!!! Enjoy your quilting!!


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