Friday, January 31, 2014


First off, I owe you a winner - the winner of a copy of Quilt Improv is... Susan M, lucky number #131. Congratulations, Susan! I'll be emailing you shortly!

I've been doing a lot of teaching the last few weeks, and I have to say there's one word that I keep hearing over and over again from seems, and the more I teach, the more I seem to hear this word from quilters.

I'm intimidated by {insert scary but gorgeous technique}.

I'm too intimidated to try [insert beautiful quilt pattern].

That machine intimidates me.

As a teacher, a big part of my job is to help quilters move past that intimidation to try new things, and to find a confidence they didn't know they had, and I love that part of my job. I really do. I love when students walk out of my classes feeling like they've really learned something, it's such a wonderful feeling. But, in teaching and interacting with more and more quilters over the last year of teaching, I feel like I'm hearing this word more and more from quilters, so I wanted to share a few of my thoughts about intimidation here.

Now, I'm human, so I'll admit it - I have definitely felt my fair share of intimidation over the quilting, in personal situations, and so forth, but with my quilting, I try my best to set aside that feeling because 99% of the time, it's thoroughly unfounded. Feeling intimidated isn't a bad thing - but the important thing is to move past that feeling and not to let that feeling paralyze you. You can't let intimidation keep you from trying something you're interested in.

Does foundation paper piecing intimidate you? You're not alone. It used to intimidate me, too, immensely. I had so much negative talk in my head about how it was a technique that surely was beyond my skill set that by the time I sat down to paper piece for the first time a few years ago, there was no way I could have had a good experience. I quite literally threw my block in progress across the room several times. And cursed like a sailor. Then, I'd start the block all over again, only to have the same exact hissy fit twenty minutes later when it didn't go quite right. I had to set it aside, and come back to it because I was driving myself crazy with the level of frustration I was feeling. I felt like I was clearly right when I thought that paper piecing was something I just couldn't do, that it was too advanced for me. I came back to the block a few days later, after calming down and trying to chill out. When I was able to stop flying off the handle and stop rushing, I was able to get through the block just fine, and that was the start of my obsession with foundation paper piecing.

All of this rambling really leads me to say one important thing: don't talk yourself out of trying something new because you feel intimidated. Try to set that feeling aside and try new things, whether it's in your quilting or in the kitchen or in whatever part of your life you've got that feeling. Because you might just find that the thing that once intimidated you might turn into something you absolutely love.

The Shazam Star - February 2014 Lucky Stars Block of the Month Club
The February 2014 Lucky Star Block of the Month: The Shazam Star
heading to subscribers' inboxes first thing Saturday, 2/1/2014

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!


  1. Thank you for the encouragement! And thrilled to be receiving the book. Will have to be brave and try something from it, and not be intimidated!!!!!

  2. I had to laugh about your hissy fit comment about throwing the project across the room. That's me! Years ago when I was learning to sew my kid's clothing, I would get so frustrated that I would yell, stomp, throw and then walk away from the sewing machine vowing never to sew another stitch in my life. My husband was in awe of this wild behavior because he never saw it come out in any other situation. So when I decided to go into longarming, he was very wary based on this history. But you're right. Intimidation is a good thing, if you forge ahead, because it challenges you to do something you thought near impossible previously. And what a great feeling that is when you find success!

  3. I was totally intimidate by free motion quilting, and had little success until i tried a tutorial by Christina at A Few Scraps. Now I can do it! What sort of table do you have your sewing machine in? I have that same Juki.

  4. I wouldn't wish being a teenager again upon anyone, but I sometimes wish for the fearlessness I had back then and thinking I could do anything, I made my first quilt back then and had no doubts I could do it, I sewed velvet and chiffon without a second thought, now the thought freaks me out. You are right you just have to try something otherwise you will never know if you like it and you can never be any good at something if you don't give it a go.

  5. Well said! And, where'd you get that table for your Juki? Lusting over here......

    1. It was all thanks to a wonderful local handyman named Jim who built it for me - you can read more about it right here:

  6. Yes I must try foundation piecing it does scare me.

  7. Paper piecing doesn't scare me, but my new long arm does! Yesterday I spent way too much time trying to load my quilt back only to realize an hour later that I forgot to square it up. I had in my head that it wouldn't load easily because of all the extra seams on the pieced backing. Funny how you freeze sometimes and my common sense wouldn't work!

  8. I let the fear of not doing it 'right' stop me from doing things in my life ~ one of them is making quilts. I waited so long to make a quilt ~ but now that I've started I can't stop!!! Oh, and paper piecing is my favorite thing to do!!!
    I do feel a little intimidation around the actual quilting of a quilt ~ all those swirly/twirly lines ~ I do love straight lines tho!

  9. Rosemary B here:
    Nothing intimidates me... well, that was 5 years ago. Now, yes, big steps in creating makes me wonder if I can do that.

    Right now, it is putting colors together for something. I cannot make up my mind, or I doubt my choices. Then I put it together and maybe agonize over the pattern. So, it is not precision or perfection in the construction but the constant struggle with choosing colors.

    ^^Debbie, I know where Elizabeth got that awesome table, her amazing hubbs made it for her.

    I want that Juki. Is it the 2010?

  10. There's a book title I like to quote: Feel the Fear and do it Anyway. Great post, Elizabeth!

  11. When I first started I had my inexperience to thank for a lack of intimidation. I didn't know how hard some things were so I just tried them. And in the end it is just fabric, not brain surgery.

  12. You are spot on! And exactly WHY is paper piecing so intimidating? Because the results are so stunning? In the last year or so I conquered my fear too, of PP. and I'm so glad I tried it!


Thank you for leaving a comment for me! I appreciate each and every one of them and try to respond when time allows. Your comments totally brighten my day :)


Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy nine year old boy and a one year old baby girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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