Monday, March 27, 2017

Now I Have Some Questions

 OK, everybody, LISTEN UP!   One of my esteemed proofreaders has asked me some very pointed questions about what quilters really know, and how much should I explain, and I need some answers from YOU!  Yup, I really do, because I don't feel the need to explain Every. Little. Thing. That most quilters know just from making quilts.

So answer these four questions for me, please. If I am wrong and you really DON'T KNOW, then I get to eat a whole lot of crow and I have to go back to the drawing board and completely, and fully explain the following concepts:

1. So if I show you this picture and I mention that all fabrics in this photo are the same color, do you believe me, or do you think I am crazy?

2. If I tell you to be careful about making slabs (that are going to be cut up later) with too many small pieces because you'll have to deal with a lot of seams, do you know why? Or do I have to explain it in painstaking detail?

3. How much to I have to explain the "straight of the grain?" Do you understand when I tell you that all these triangles, and the slab from which they have been cut are all made from strips and pieces that have been cut on the grain? (Actually the base of the triangles are all on the straight of the grain. The other two sides are on the bias.)

4. Do you know what "Negative Space" is? And do you understand that in THIS example, it's the black, because I've flipped the values here and the white diamonds are the "thing?"

Look, the tutorial is pretty good, and these questions are things that beginning quilters may not fully understand, but my tute isn't written for rank beginners. I'm assuming that the quilters who read my tutorial aren't hung up with perfectly 'matchy matchy' fabrics or colors; know what the straight of the grain is, and to handle triangles cut from fabric carefully so they don't get distorted. I don't think I need to explain (much) about why you should cut away the selvage before you make blocks and that you know that having lots of seams in a block means it's going to be a bitch to press so it lies flat. I assume you know the difference between Positive space and Negative space (Hint: Positive space is the thing. Negative space is the space around the thing.)

That's it.

And yeah, I guess you could say I've got my back up.



Margaret Goodman said...

I could answer/understand the four questions. But I never mind hearing/reading detailed instructions and explanations because I am "OCDish" and like details in instructions, discussions,etc. Thank you for the tutorials. I appreciate them.

Carol said...

It all seems pretty obvious to me. I find too much detail boring and I don't need it so I skip over it. I think It's enough to say for example, slabs should not be made with too many small pieces because there will be too many seams to deal with. I think you can expect to know what straight of grain is and positive and negative space. You really shouldn't have to go into too much detail for relatively simple stuff, but I'm sure someone will tell you that the more detail the better. Most quilters can figure out how to follow patterns, and if they do have questions, I'm sure you'll hear about it. Perhaps the advantage of having a blog is that you could have answers to faq's and you could direct inquiries there.

Jill said...

I'm not all for explaining every little thing either (except when it involves partial seams) and my quilting context is 20+ years of quilting and zero patterns followed exactly. They're more what you'd call guidelines, right?

1) I might have put that asian looking floral (white flowers) in the brown/beige/cream bin, but that could be monitor difference or just a shadow on the lower right piece of it. The rest of these are clearly golden yellows.
2)I understand why you want to warn people, but much like the seam in the binding ALWAYS ends up in the miter, it's going to happen anyway.
3)If a person has enough scraps to make slabs, they should have already figured out straight of grain. Besides, a little starch fixes a lot of stretch. Also, Google exists for phrases we don't understand, no one getting your tute off the internet is working in a vacuum where it's their only resource.
4)This one is more subjective. I see black windmills first, white ones second and then only after a long look. Even looking at art my Western brain reads left to right, top to bottom. Crop the image down by one row top & left if you want to make it obvious, or leave it and let them play with how their brain sees it differently depending on where they look first, it's cheap entertainment at 2am when I'm supposed to be writing a paper on HCI.

Kucki68 said...

For a advanced quilter I think you are good, but I would maybe add the hint from your post on negative and positive space, that does not always come up explicitly.)

Megan said...

Oooh - don't get your back up. That wasn't what was intended.

Perhaps you could handle these questions by including a statement at the beginning of the tutorial about who your target audience is and the kind of knowledge that you assume they have. Otherwise, how will a novice know that the tutorial is not for them?

Sydney, Australia

Dorothy Finley said...

#1-Yes, all the same color, but some have different values
#2-Yes, too many seams for bulky blocks
#3-Yes, I understand straight of grain, but sometime when doing "slabs'
and using scraps, it might be easier to "starch"/"best press"
the scrap pieces
#4-Yes and Yes
#5-You are the best

Pat said...

All those items are obvious to me. They certainly wouldn't have been the first time I made a quilt but you learn over time. :D These instructions aren't meant for a first timer so I think you are good, but you could try an opening paragraph like Megan suggested. There is plenty of material out there for people to read if they feel the need for additional information.

Sybil said...

I understood all you were saying but I have been sewing all my life not just quilts and I also paint so I understand negative space and all that jazz.

Jennifer said...

Q's #1, #2, #3, #4: TOTS GOT IT! I consider myself an experience quilter (been quilting for 30+ years) and I know exactly what you're talking about. I focus on color, mostly, and not pattern, and rarely make a quilt from a pattern. as a general rule, I'd say anyone who is going to make an improv quilt, is confident and knowledgeable, and knows what all those things are you're talking about. (including WOF). I love to follow your quilty adventures. I have quite a few of my own, but only a boring blog to show for it...

Fran in Mississippi said...

I think you're instructions are clear without further explanation, and your quilts are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your process and knowledge!

Fran in Mississippi said...

Oops. Sorry for the bad grammar. I should have proofed my comment before posting (chagrin). said...

Hi Lynne
Yes, all of those concepts are fine without explanation - although I did have to look twice at the 'negative' space in the last example!!
I'm constantly in awe of your use of colour - I have real problems with mixing colours and have several times looked at what you are doing with a quilt, thought "Ugh thats going to look awful" and then been stunned at the final fantastic result!!!! Not sure thats something that can be put in a tutorial - but if it is I reckon you could do it !!!

Thanks for a really enjoyable blog.

Lynne in County Durham UK.

stitchinpenny said...

1.Same color
2.No detail if you have sewn with lots of seams before.
3.This is not a beginner quilt and anyone beyond a first time quilter should know this.
4. This concept is a little more abstract and explaining it is difficult. This ranks on if you have to ask how much something costs you can't afford it.

Mari said...

The only thing I think might need some explanation is the grainline example. Very, very few patterns mention the grainlines any more, and I wouldn't be surprised if fewer people than we think understand it. If it's important, it might be worth a few words, but not more than that. And for all of these you could refer people to a book if they need more help. If your pattern is marked for "advanced beginners and up" you will be fine.

Love the black and white triangles!

Rebecca said...

Yah what they said.
Having said that from an experienced quilters perspective.
Top the pattern with 3 to 5 needles, thimbles, spools of thread and call it for experienced if not advanced quilters (or learning by the seat of the pants) and start a heading / category on the blog with the explanations you have given in the past -- present -- future.

Monica McCurty said...

Don't worry too much about the details. Most quilters will be fine and if they are intimitaded by the process they will either experiment, do google search, or save it until they are more confident. There are some youtube vidoes and patterns out there using precuts that create bulky seams and bias edges with no discussion of it what so ever. Being an experienced quilter, I realize this off the bat. I do wonder about those new quilters who don't have that knowledge. In your case, if they like the pattern and make the quilt, everyone wins. :)

Jan Brown said...

Wow! Impressive, Lynne! I like how you think, how you write, how you create.

For me, the most important part of what you convey is how your CREATIVITY comes into play. The other
parts, the nuts and bolts of HOW to make something is important, but secondary. And yet that precision
and accuracy is what makes us the happiest in our finished products.

I think you got it just right...the balance there between splashes of creativity and the how-to's. I would say
yes to all your questions. (Perhaps, would it be helpful to reference one or two really good how-to'
not using selvages or how to use the straight of the that someone could find the info, but your
flow is not gummed up w/ elaborate explanations. Just a thought...)

Love your work and your blog.
-Jan Murray Brown

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

Negative space is an art term, not a quilting term and may need more explanation. Since I have NO formal art training I had been making quilts for 27 years before I heard the term negative space.

Quiltdivajulie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quiltdivajulie said...

My two cents: Beginners and others NEED to read tutorials like yours that stretch their horizons and cause them to ask questions, do additional reading and research, and expand their skill sets. Your tutorials show how you handle challenges, how you store/use your fabrics, where you get ideas and what you do with them, and how your internal process works. I'm guessing you'll have a statement at the end of your tutorial document so that if a reader does have a question, they'll be encouraged to check your blog for more information or send you an email about that specific item. As far as answering the 4 questions listed:
1. Yes, I get it.
2. I know this from experience -- you are 100% correct about seams when using too many tiny pieces.
3. Yes, I understand
4. Yes I get it. However - Positive/Negative space in the quilting world was not taught when I was a beginner, it can be seen differently due to individual interpretation, and it could become an entire study in and of itself. (hmmm - maybe you could do a blog post or even a tutorial on this using your quilts as examples)

Allison said...

So I'm with the majority on this. I don't think you need to be explaining 1-3. #4 is a design concept that might, as Quiltdivajulie says, belong in a tute on design. There's nothing wrong with people encountering concepts they're not familiar with and having to learn something outside your tute. Happens all the time.

Ruth said...

I understand all four concepts. I really think a beginning quilter, who has sewing experience and pays attention to details, would be able to follow your instructions. An emphasis on precise cutting, 1/4 inch or consistent seams and attention to pressing go a long way to ensure success.
About positive and negative space, my experience is like Wanda's it; appears never to have been a hinderance to her, nor has it been to me. I understand it when it is mentioned but I don't give it a lot of consideration when planning.

I love your tutorials and your step by step insight into your thoughts as you go along.

Jeanne in Ohio said...

You never know what speaks to a quilter, and I think you can never have too much information in a pattern. We've all seen a relative beginner pick out an "advanced" pattern because she loves it. We also know that with the proper support she can do it. That's where complete directions come in. Many people will not read the directions anyway. The ones who need it will sometimes ignore them, but come back after they run into trouble. I'm constantly surprised at how many people don't understand grain and how it affects the finished product. Any extra information you provide will be for the quilters who want to stretch their skills.

Just Ducky said...

As a person who has sewed by not really quilted, most of this makes sense.

1 - all the same color family
2- seams can make things bulky, then you get bunching.
3- understood from basic sewing
4 - yep

Your tutorials are not made for the person who is just now taking up quilting and sewing in general. More of the person who has been sewing and maybe some quilting in the past.

I have two of your other tutorials. I understand them just fine.

Jackie Kelly said...

I think as long as you use standard terms, it will be understandable. i was working on a pattern with friends recently and the author used terms that needed interpretation. It took three of us the figure out what they meant. Keep it simple and easy to understand. And yes, I understood everything you said.

Jackie said...

I understood everything you said and I would just skip over that section.

Sandi said...

I think you explained everything perfectly, as you sai this is not a beginner quilter who would want to do this. Also I'm sure you will reference back to your blog posts where if folks are confused they could E-mail you questions.

Go for it!

Elaine L said...

I consider myself an intermediate quilter. I can finally consistently do a 1/4 seam! As others have said, there is enough info online to answer basic questions. I have bought book to learn new things, only to find them half full of basic information that has been repeated in so many other publications.

Where I need more experience now is in the matching of colours and the balance of designs. When you explain your process I can see it. But to do that on my own? It's still magic that is beyond me.

Steven said...

I understand the first three very well, although I might personally have trouble explaining them clearly myself. The fourth one I understand, but my mind/eye has trouble identifying it correctly. That's my problem, not yours, and I usually get it wrong, although I understand basically the concept. As other posters have commented, I think a statement at the beginning of your tutorial on the skill level would be beneficial and would serve as a warning for new/novice quilters.

Linda Swanekamp said...

I am teensy bit afraid to comment. I am an experienced quilter and retired art teacher. I find that the people who are interested in improv are younger and with less experience and frustrate easily. Somehow, they think improv is easy, and it is not as you have to make a lot of decisions, like chess moves. If you don't want to explain, you could do a basic glossary sheet and tip sheet that could be downloaded apart from the pattern. I am very grateful when someone goes the extra step to explain something to me. I went to a big national teacher workshop on improv piecing and when I could not grasp what I needed to do with the all the units, she asked me if I was a slow learner. I was certainly a mortified learner.

The Selvage Fairy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Selvage Fairy said...

sorry, computer is being weird. Negative space is one of those things where you look at it for a while and then go...OOOOHHHHH, I see it now!

And speaking of classes...

Mary Howland said...

I understood 1-3. I think it's my eyes but I didn't understand or see the black as the background. I thought the white was your wall and you were going to fill those pieces in eventually. When you explained it in one of your posts, I got it. I do understand the concept of background and negative space. My opinion only - I don't think a beginner is going to buy this pattern.

Millie said...

Thank you all for taking the time to leave your comments. You have given me a lot of terrific information and helped me refine my thoughts.