I’m a self taught quilter. This was not something I set out to be, but with Mike and I working rotating schedules while raising three boys, it just turned out that way. I was also shy about participating in classes because I was positive that everyone was an expert but me.  Instead, I read books and magazines and made projects on my own. For the most part, things worked out well. Sometimes though, they just didn’t.  This is exactly what happened this past week.

Despite hearing about “this technique” and “that technique,” I still tend to use my tried and true methods. After all, I have been doing that for 20 years!  So, when making a Kansas Troubles sample for the store, I sewed along with my steady ¼” seams, used my trusty square ruler, and admired the beautiful quilt top as it progressed. No problem! Then I decided to lay it on the floor to get a better look. It didn’t lay flat. Not as in “No problem, I can quilt this out,” but as in “Oh My Gosh, Elaine!! What in the heck did you do?? “ I checked my corners and remeasured my strips. Everything was good. I folded and refolded to find the problem. It folded nicely. So I resorted to breaking the Quilter’s Golden Rule. I used steam (lots and lots of steam) and ironed instead of pressed. Like a crazed woman, I ironed this poor quilt top to death. That would certainly fix this unruly quilt! Well, you can imagine how much worse I made it. Now I had a fabric ocean with huge crested waves as if a tsunami was in progress. Seriously.  Now what?

Well, I phoned a friend. Not just one friend, but the entire staff at the shop. They would certainly be able to figure out my problem. I laid out my quilt and there was a collective “Wow!” After a little friendly teasing (my favorite being “Let’s stuff it with fiberfill, tie it, and make it into a giant dog pillow!”) they got down on the floor and began to analyze it like only experts can do. After I was asked “What method did you use to add the borders?” and answered “The one I always use,” I had to laugh. In fact, we all did.

This is what I had missed being a self-taught quilter. I had missed the benefit of hands-on learning from skilled artists, I had missed the benefits of their years of trial and error, and most importantly, I had missed many years of camaraderie as I struggled through the mistakes we all make.   My quilt was no longer my mistake but became “Our Quilt and Our Challenge.”   And where did my wave quilt end up? Well, to be honest, Terri brought it home to work some magic on it.  Whew! Thanks, Terri!

Whether you are a self taught quilter or not, joining a class, club or bee has so much to offer.     Like phoning a friend, we are here to help you.  So, join us!  I promise that you will make friends and share some good laughs.  And, at the very least, you will learn the name of the method you use to add borders.

Enjoy life! Be creative!