New Quilters, Quilting

Show and Tell

The church fellowship hall was crowded that night. Near the kitchen, the long tables full of snacks were picked clean. Ladies of all sorts were gathered, talking the good talk of quilting. Thread, patterns, needles, fabric. Once in a while you could hear the ooohs and aaahs of someone admiring a quilt in person, or in a picture being passed around on a smartphone.

But it was getting late. The snacking and visiting time was over, and the ladies of my quilt guild were quieting down, turning their chairs and smiling faces toward the podium at the front of the room.

It was time for show and tell.

I watched from my table at the back of the room as each lady took a turn describing her projects. The stories they told were a mixed bag, as usual – often gleeful, occasionally fierce. Fierce comes in when finishing the quilt is a tale of survival. A challenging quilt, perhaps – begun eagerly, finished wearily. All the stories are triumphant in their own way. And there is always something to learn from show and tell. If there was a lesson to be learned in doing that quilt, the ladies of the guild will share.

That night, lessons to be learned were a plenty. And as always, they were not what I expected.

A friend of mine, Karen, an accomplished quilter with a gazillion quilts under the belt of her tiny frame, stood up to show off some quilts. Karen is a longarm quilter, like me. She quilts for customers. I knew she’d have something good to show, so I got up with my iPhone camera turned on, and moved forward in the room so I could snap a few shots. I moved quietly behind a table in the first row, which was crowded with ladies I did not know. I snapped a few photos, then stood there, quietly, while my friend told her story.

Karen held up a beautiful baby quilt. The quilt top had these delicate, cross-stitched quilt blocks. Each block had a different image, all adorable and perfect for a nursery. Karen explained what was special about her quilt.

“Now for this one,” she said, “the customer only wanted edge-to-edge. But of course, I just couldn’t do that,” Karen said, smiling and gesturing at the quilt.

I was right there with her, I completely understood. That quilt demanded custom quilting! An edge to edge design would have just blended everything in together, instead of making each beautiful block stand out as its own picture. Karen went on to describe a little about all the work she’d done to enhance the piecing with the quilting design. She was rightfully proud of her work, it was stunning. And – she didn’t charge the customer for the extra work (she may be nominated for sainthood soon).

The lesson got me about midway through her show and tell.

While Karen was presenting, one of the ladies at the table in front of me leaned over to her friend and whispered,

“What’s edge-to-edge?”

I could’ve been knocked over with a feather. What’s edge-to edge? Really?

And her friend didn’t know the answer.

I was surprised, but I hadn’t lost my good manners, so I leaned down and softly whispered that edge to edge was a design applied all over the top of the quilt. The lovely lady nodded, said “Oh, yes, of course,” and I slipped back through the crowd to my seat.

What did I learn here? Three things.

First, I know stuff that other people don’t know! Yay for me! 😊 Ego boosted. Smarts confirmed.

Second, just because a person is of mature age and/or has been quilting a long time, does not mean they know everything. This is such a relief! It’s hard to be a new quilter and join a guild full of people whose skills seem so far beyond your own. To say it’s humbling is downplaying it. So, hearing someone admit that they didn’t know something is refreshing and…teaches me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to speak up.Big_Bird_and_Michelle_Obama_(8555066920)

As Big Bird says, “Asking questions is a good way to find out things.”

And third, that question leads me to a perfect blog post topic. Not everyone knows what quilting terms mean, even if you quilt a lot. This is nothing to be ashamed of. No shame at Stacey Holley Quilts. Only love and sharing. 😊 So, for those of you who would like a short primer, here it is:

Longarm Quilter:  A person who owns, or uses, a longarm quilting machine to sew together the three layers of a quilt (quilt top, batting, and backing). Some longarm quilters just quilt for themselves. Others are for hire (like me! See Longarm Quilting Services for details) and do quilting for customers who have a pieced the quilt top.

Longarm Quilting Machine. (HandiQuilter)

Longarm Quilting Machine:  An industrial-size sewing machine, mounted on a table,that has handlebars so that the machine can be “driven” over the three layers of a quilt, sewing them together.

Longarm Quilting Frame: A rack, of sorts, on which the quilt top, batting, and quilt backing are rolled up and stretched out flat to enable the Longarm Quilting Machine to move over and under the quilt “sandwich” in rows.

Longarm Quilting Frame

Quilting Designs: Stitching patterns used to sew the three layers of a quilt together. There are lots of names used, but here are some common ones:

  • Edge-to-Edge: a quilting design that is applied to the entire quilt, without regard to the piecing or borders. Meanders/stippling, loops, any pattern, really. Pantographs are typically edge-to-edge designs. Here’s an example, done with the pattern I call “Box Maze” (you can see more samples on my Longarm Quilting Services page):
  • Semi-Custom, or Simple Custom: Semi-Custom, or Simple Custom, as I like to call it, is a step more difficult than edge-to-edge: two designs are applied to the quilt top. One design applied edge-to-edge over the middle of the quilt, with a separate, coordinating design used in the border. Below is a picture of a Simple Custom design. (You can see more samples like this on my Longarm Quilting Services page.)
  • 1-DSC_0064-002
    Simple Custom Quilting sample

    Custom: Any quilting that involves the use of more than one pattern is usually considered “custom quilting.” But within that category, there is a lot of variance. For example, pick up any quilting magazine with show quilts displayed and you will see extreme custom quilting! For my purposes, any combination of 3 or more quilting designs, applied block-by-block, with multiple designs and separate borders, is custom. Here’s a lovely example. The quilt top was pieced by my husband’s grandmother and quilted by me:

Hattie’s Sunroom Nine Patch, custom quilted.

There are so many more terms to explore! But I must stop here for today. Show and tell is done for the night…but look for more terms and explanations in future posts.

Peace to all,












3 thoughts on “Show and Tell”

  1. You are so thoughtful to answer those questions for many quilters. As a relatively new quilter myself, I’ve had to ask lots of questions and most quilters are more than generous with their knowledge. In a large group like that it could be hard to allow your ignorance to show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You’re right, it’s hard to let your ignorance show, especially in a group. It’s interesting that so many of us feel that way, isn’t it? That’s why the internet is so great – you can ask your question without an audience! 🙂 Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

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