Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dumbed Down Quilting....quite the discussion!

Update March 2013: I believe the author of the post in question received far to much criticism over this particular topic. I just reread the post and all the comments and felt saddened at how controversy is perceived as attack. I was a relatively new blogger when I wrote the post below and still feel that perhaps the term Dumbed Down can be somewhat inflammatory, however, I feel we should be open to different points of view and welcome a discussion there of, without stooping to personal attack. 

If you've missed this discussion just google Dumbed Down Quilting and you'll see what I'm talking about. I have a few of my own thoughts on this topic.

I think the term dumbed down can be derogatory and seems to lack respect. In actuality, I believe it takes a fair bit of skill and expertise to simplify difficult methods. I love to find easier ways to do difficult things.....and if that's dumb so be it. I also enjoy sharing methods that work for me. Taking it a step further, I get annoyed when I see a pattern published, in a quilting magazine, using complex techniques, when often there is simpler way.

Part of the problem is that we are trying to paint all us quilter's with the same brush....we are a diverse lot, with the most obvious being traditional versus modern. But there is so much more to it than that, at one end of the spectrum there are those that love to follow a pattern or stick to a collection of fabrics and at the other end there are those that love to create their own designs and patterns.....or their even own fabrics.

I think it's wonderful that no matter where you fit in this can be part of the online quilting community. The photos in my favorites (Flickr) are often more inspiring than what's being published in many of the quilting magazines.

I set my own standards for me as a QUILTER and as an ARTIST. I blog with my own VOICE and feel honored when any of you interact with me. I choose the TONE of my voice just as I choose which of YOUR voices to listen to.


  1. I invite you to read the original post that started this whole 'dumbing down' freak out:, as well as the two posts that immediately follow it by the same blogger.

    The blogger never intended to start a flame war or insult anyone. What sparked this whole thing was her irritation with the idea that Half Square Triangles are "a nice challenge for the intermediate to advanced quilter".

    I personally agree with her - it's statements like HSTs being a challenge that create an element of fear in this hobby. HSTs are a basic shape in a huge number of quilt blocks. There are new(er) quilters denying themselves the chance at expanding their horizons simply because they've been told that HSTs are hard, and they just don't have the experience to know any better.

    It's not about painting all quilters with the same brush. It's about encouraging the sharing of knowledge and techniques, about helping others broaden their creative freedom.

    Sure, some quilters may not want to move beyond their current methods and style. It is their right to express themselves in their chosen manner. But let's encourage who do want to take those steps into learning more techniques and take some of the fear out of it.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Jeanne, I'm all about eradicating the fear and building confidence instead, but I still feel the fact that the term "QUILTER" represents such a broad spectrum causes a fair bit of misunderstanding. What paralyzes one with fear spurs another on.

  3. I agree with you here. I found the original post extremely unwelcome and full of self-importance. Not a blogger I'll be revisiting. At least not for a while. I really dislike the us vs. them mentality and don't understand the need to criticize those who walk a different path/ see beauty in other ways. Life and let live is my motto.

    I would never be a newbie quilter if it wasn't for all of the talented and inspiring modern quilters out there. Thank you all for taking the time to edumacate me. It's priceless!

  4. I have thought a bit about this subject too! And I will share a bit about me. I started quilting about 8 years ago. And started longarm quilting about 4 years ago. I have quilted over 500 quilts for my customers and have quilted some AMAZING quilts. Perfect piecing..perfect corners.. I appreciate what they do with these quilts. I have a learned alot through other quilters and longarmers and wouldn't be at the point I am now with out the help and knowledge from them.

    Now...I will admit I have been discouraged as of recent with my own quilting adventure. I have felt like I didn't have my own quilting nitch. I live in the North West, it is very traditional in the area I live in. It's not till I started my blog that I fell in love with quilting all over again. I started doing my own stuff again and am constantly inspired by other blogs and also by flikr! This is my nitch! We all have our own nitches and if anyone wants recognition for what they are doing and wants to show it off, then find your nitch of quilters and show it off..they will love it! Because we are all very diverse and that's what makes it so much fun. If we all did it the same way then it would be way to boring!!

    Great topic Marianne!

  5. Thanks Jenny and Liz, I feel much the same as you do.

  6. I completely agree Marianne!
    I googled after a few of the other bloggers I follow also blogged about this topic and so I read through the blog posts you mention which origninally started this whole thing off to see what all the fuss was about. I actually think that she did have some valid things to say, but unfortunately they were lost amongst the derogatory title she gave of "dumbing down" and some of the other not so nice things... shame! I subscribe to the school of if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all - and also that who is anyone to judge the validity of anothers art, or in fact tell them the "best" way to do it, and how they should be aiming to grow as a quilter. It is a creative outlet - and there is no "right" way. It annoys me when people get on their high horse and say otherwise... and it is disappointing to see this sort of high horse attitude infiltrate the online community - usually such an uplifting, inspiring place to share!

    However - having said that - I am also impressed by said blogger... because it is one thing to moan on your blog and rant and start a big them & us "discussion" blah blah blah... but it is quite another to take issue with something but seek to do something constructive about it. It was actually a valid point that she was making about the fact that half square triangles shouldn't be seen as intermediate-advanced (if you can see past how it was said etc!!). They are a fairly basic really and since that they are the foundation for many many traditional block designs - it could be seen as intimidating to new quilters to call them so (which I believe was her main point).

    - So I give her credit for the fact that now she is actually running a tutorial series to help learner quilters learn new skills - something that I know from experience takes incredible time and commitment to do!
    It does indicate to me that she is more than just a complainer, but is in fact willing to do something proactive to resolve the situation...
    I still think there were far better ways to do it than her choice of words- but hey, the point is that steps are being taken to make for a better situation!


Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I try to respond to all of your wonderful comments....if you are not getting any response from me it's because you are set up as a no-reply blogger. In order to receive a response you can change your status in your blogger profile. I'm no longer accepting anonymous comments.

Thanks again for all your wonderful comments


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