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#54: Is this Quilt Cheating? Quilting Debate with Leah Day

Hello my quilting friends! Today I have a fun quilting debate for you - is this quilt cheating? Are there techniques or methods that you think are just plain wrong?

Do you look at quilts that have been made with embroidery or automated quilting and judge them as inferior? Hear my take on this topic in this new podcast episode and check out the treadle I'm cleaning in this new video:


Is this Quilt Cheating?

Let's sum up this Great Quilting Debate really simply: I don't consider any technique, method, machine, or style to be cheating.

Let's keep our wonderful world of quilting very open and very simple with one rule: anything and everything goes.

If you allow everything: machine embroidery, longarming, fusible web, cheater cloth panels, beads, buttons, glue, and laser cut fabric, you will have access to the biggest playground to play in. Like a little kid running from the swings to the sandbox, you'll never get bored because there's always something new to learn and experiment with.

When you allow judgement and criticism to color your attitude and declare some techniques as a cheat, then you're automatically deciding that some methods are "valid" and others are not. You've just shrunk your playground. Nope, no seesaws for you.

You can't touch machine embroidery, that's off limits.

Doesn't that cheater cloth print look neat? Oh not, that's CHEATING!

Wish you could give up binding? Too bad! You must do every step YOURSELF for that quilt to be YOURS!

Does this sound like an evil monster in your head? Because this is not a cool thing to do to yourself. This can be really destructive and I've personally had this kind of limited thinking and judgement destroy one of my favorite crafts in the past.

So the next time you catch yourself thinking badly about Norma Jean at quilt guild because she's always bringing gorgeous machine embroidered quilt blocks to show off, check in on that judgement. Do you wish you could try that too? When did you decide that was cheating? What is really behind that emotion?

I would hazard a guess that a lot of the attitude around cheating has to do with money.

I experienced this myself when I began quilting. I saw a beautiful machine embroidered stocking and fell in love with the design, but once I realized how it was created, I felt my heart close down. There's no way I could afford that machine. I can't make that pretty stocking. It's out of my reach.

It's not fun to feel this way. It's far easier to feel uninterested and dismissive than broke and wanting. So within a few minutes, it's less painful to decide I DON'T like it. In order to make that decision easily and as painlessly as possible, I cast a simple judgement - that's CHEATING.

Now it's easy to turn away from that pretty stocking because it's not really that pretty. It's cheap and tacky because it wasn't made by hand, by a person with real skill. It was churned out by a machine and all the maker had to do was hit a button. There's no skill in that!

Reflections of Nature Embroidery

Do you see how this judgement evolved?

Yes, I do believe the simple factor of cost and money invested is why many techniques and materials have been judged by quilters as inferior.

Time is also money and can play a role in this too. This is why I think Cheater Cloth got it's name and negative association. It's "cheating" to use this fabric and not build the skill for piecing or applique.

Ability is the third area judgement can creep in and is definitely something to watch out for as you develop as a quilter. Once you master a perfect 1/4-inch seam, wonky blocks may look ridiculously sloppy. It's easy to forget how hard it can be to match seams when you've been doing it perfectly for twenty years.

Money, time, and ability - this creates the cheating judgement.

I know this isn't easy to swallow. I've caught myself falling into this trap more than once and had to step back and realize I was casting judgement not based on any real experience with the technique, machine, or material, but because that machine, method, or material was out of my reach.

Please try to see this judgement for what it is. Question yourself and question those thoughts when they crop up.

Do whatever you can to keep your world as open and permissive as possible because that will ensure every quilt you make is an exciting adventure!

Click Here to find more episodes of the Hello My Quilting Friends Podcast!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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