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The Freedom Movement - A Quilters Resolution

*I shared this last year, but I know there are several new quilters that have not yet read this goodness, so I believe its worth another share. *

The “Freedom” Movement – A Quilters Resolution

It’s this time of year that we all think about the year gone by, and compile our lists of intentions for the year to come. Goals such as losing weight, quitting smoking, saving more money, and the list goes on and on. For most of us, these resolutions of good intentions are soon forgotten early into the first month of the year. Stress, hectic schedules and external pressures quickly creep in on our lives after the relaxing holiday is over. One of the keys (probably the only key) to being successful in keeping your New Years resolutions, is setting smaller, more reasonable goals. It’s often easier to achieve a large goal if you set yourself little milestones (and don’t forget to reward yourself for all your hard work!) that will help you achieve your ultimate goal (and then another rewarding celebration is in order!).

If you have followed my mystery quilts, you have faithfully taken my direction and guidance from beginning to end. I am about to ask (or more in keeping with my style, demand) that you make yourself ONE resolution that I KNOW will change your outlook on many things, but in particular, how you see yourself as a Quilter.

I’m not going to tell you to organize your sewing room, sort your scraps, or even finish your UFO’s. That stuff doesn’t really matter to me, and doesn’t define you as a quilter anyway. What I want you to do is ask yourself what skill level of a Quilter you think you are… Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced or Novice? Why do you think that? Is it based on how many quilts you’ve made? Or what the pattern you last made was labeled for difficulty? Is it on account of what you might be struggling with? Do you compare yourself to other quilters and identify your skill level as you compare yourself to them? Really give this some thought.

Ok, now that you’ve painted that picture of yourself as a Quilter, FORGET IT ALL! Don’t even think about how many quilts you’ve made. Don’t obsess over only buying patterns and kits that say “Skill Level: Easy”. Stop comparing your quilting to others that call themselves “Advanced”. I want you to completely ABANDON the idea of Skill Level altogether and free yourself from the label that could ultimately be stunting your growth as a Quilter and keeping you from achieving Quilting-Uber-Greatness (yeah, I just made that word up, so?!) Don’t see yourself as a beginner. You are a Quilter, therefore, you ARE A QUILTER, that’s all. Don’t label yourself, don’t judge yourself and certainly don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t let the skill level on that “show-stopping” quilt that took your breath away, scare you off.

Take my “Plenty of Fish” mystery quilt, for example. How many of you said at the end of that mystery, that you would never have thought you could make a quilt like that? (If you’re nodding, you’re not alone!) Well guess what, all you beginner quilters… Plenty of Fish would have been labeled “Intermediate”. You were only given instructions for one step at a time, without even being able to consider the final result, the ultimate goal. You essentially “Baby Step’d” (watch the movie “What About Bob” and you’ll get it) your way through a quilt that you would have thought beyond your capabilities and confidence level. I didn’t allow you to be scared off by endless triangles and an overall design that looked more complicated than it really was. You completed it, step by step, only being concerned about that step, and nothing else.

That being said, if instructions were clear and easy to follow, why couldn’t you make an “Advanced” quilt project? “Cracked Pots Mystery” is in many ways, an Advanced project. So if you were a beginner before Plenty of Fish, and an Intermediate before Cracked Pots, does that all of a sudden make you an Advanced Quilter? Not necessarily, and that is a big part of the reason I want to do away with all these labels. What is most important for your success as a Quilter, is to have clear and correct instruction, followed up by continual support and guidance.

You could take any quilt class, and grasp what might seem a difficult technique, if the instructor had a knack for simplifying and breaking things into achievable steps, not over-complicating. A well written quilt pattern is no different. It will use words and language that you can understand, and the diagrams will clearly illustrate (for all us visual learners). Before you buy, ask permission to open patterns up and glance through them, paying attention to the detail in the steps and the clarity of the diagrams. If it isn’t easy to read, put it back. If it’s written and illustrated well, you are likely to succeed!

The feedback I have been given from quilters all over the world, is that my patterns are easy to follow, and the directions are clear, simple as that. Ultimately, I strive to make each pattern accessible to everyone. No matter your pre-conceived “skill level”, you should be able to tackle any one of my patterns, one simple step at a time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of designed and writing, “Fresh From the Prairies” along with Devon Lavigne. One of the things we found in retrospect, is that because of the limited amount of pages, the detail that we put into our individual patterns was not possible to fit into the book. This is one of the reasons that we have decided that instead of writing and releasing a second book, I will continue to release mystery quilts and patterns that are packed full of great diagrams, and super easy instructions.

In my opinion, skill level is a bunch of hogwash. Join me in the next big movement in quilting. Refuse to label yourself as a beginner, intermediate or advanced quilter and embrace just BEING a Quilter.

As Remi in Ratatouille says “Anyone can cook”, so I say, “Anyone can QUILT!”

Wishing you and yours the very best for 2015,

Sharon Blackmore

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