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Help for New Quilters

Written by Mary Nelson Zadrozny
© 2007-2011Just Imagine Design & Publications
I get a lot of e-mails from new quilters with great questions so I decided to put together an article that addresses some of these topics:

"Where can I learn how to quilt?"
There are many places to learn - so many more options than when I started back in 1982!

1. Take a class at your local quilt shop. Yes, you could go in and ask a hundred questions of the salespeople, but you really need to get a good foundation. The best way is to see someone explaining and demonstrating all the basics like cutting, piecing, and quilting techniques in a class. They have expert salespeople and teachers who can help you pick out supplies and fabric for your first project. To find a local quilt shop in your area, check your telephone directory under "Quilt Shops" or "Fabric Stores" or try some of these store locators:
Google Maps You can search for "quilt shops" near any location. This is also a great tool for locating shops when you travel.
QuiltWoman.com Store Locator
QuiltProfessionals.com Quilt Shop Directory

Before heading out to a new store, be sure to call first in case they have closed or changed their hours of operation.

2. Another place to take quilt classes is your local college or community education program.

3. There are several excellent quilt TV shows on PBS. In my area of the country, all day Monday they have a variety of shows on like Kaye's Quilting Friends, Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, and Georgia Bonesteel's Lap Quilting to name a few. Check your local TV listings for more information.

4. Quilt books and magazines are a great way to learn about quilting. See our Quilt Book List for some suggestions. Most local libraries have quilting books available.

5. Several quilting web sites have instructions and tips. For a complete listing of web site links visit our Resource Center.

6. Join your local quilt guild. Don't be shy if you are new to quilting. Guilds have friendly, helpful quilters of all skill levels. To find one in your area, use one of the guild directories below or ask at your local quilt shop.
Quilt Guilds Worldwide
Quilt Professionals Quilt Guild Directory
Quilt Woman Quilt Guild Directory

"Is quilting an expensive hobby?"
Absolutely not! Now there are more patterns, books, tools and fabric options available for quilters than ever before, but it doesn't mean you need ALL of them to make a beautiful quilt. I am in awe of the early quilters who created gorgeous quilts with the very simplest of tools. They didn't have fancy rulers, rotary cutters, fabrics in every color and style you can imagine, not to mention the primitive lighting conditions most quilters worked with. So my advice to new quilters is start out with a few basic supplies; good pins, quality thread, thimble, needles, sharp scissors, and possibly a rotary cutter, mat and ruler, then build from there. Your local library is a great source for quilting books and some have quilt magazines and instructional tapes as well. Check garage sales for quilting items and take advantage of sales at fabric and quilt shops.

"Which of your patterns would be good for a beginner?"
I get this question a lot! All of our quilt patterns at Just Imagine Design are written with step-by-step directions and plenty of diagrams. All of them feature projects that are easy and I would classify all of them as beginner level. However, I also tell customers and state on the pattern covers, that these patterns should not be a quilter's very first project. And here's why: I think a good first project should be something with just one basic shape such as a square or rectangle. Keep it simple like a small wall hanging or a lap quilt, something to learn the steps of the process and to get used to the terminology and equipment, but not get overwhelmed by the time it will take to complete. A quilt pattern can't possibly cover all the various elements in detail like how to choose fabrics, color selection, how to safely and properly use a rotary cutter, what kinds of batting there are, how to hand or machine quilt, etc. If we tried to, the pattern would end up being at least 50 pages long. So, my advice is to take a beginner class, then you will be ready to breeze through a variety of quilt patterns.
Keep in mind when you purchase one of our patterns, if you do get stuck, help is only an e-mail away. We are always happy to clarify or explain anything that you ask about.

"What are the benefits of quilting?"
There are the obvious benefits of making something beautiful to give as a gift or decorate your home. Quilts are associated with warmth and comforting memories of the past. And you get to buy fabulous fabrics! But beyond that, many people find quilting very relaxing and some studies have even shown that hobbies like knitting and quilting have the same relaxation benefits as meditation. Over the years, I've often picked up a quilt to work on when under stress as my way of coping. I usually bring a quilt project to work on while waiting in doctor and hospital waiting rooms. Not only has it calmed my nerves to focus on stitching, but it has generated some wonderful conversations with people who want to know what I am working on.
Looking back at the old time quilting bees, women used those gatherings to not only create something functional and visually appealing, but while they worked they discussed their problems. This was their form of therapy and it was free!
But my favorite benefit of quilting is you will find some of the kindest, warmest people in the world when you enter the Quilting Community.

"Where can I find more information about quilting?"
Check out our Links for Quilters page.

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