chiming in on dumbing down

Earlier today, I saw a post from Cara about dumbing down in quilting and it really has had me thinking this morning.  You see, I'm one of those who has benefited from this so-called "dumbing down" and, quite frankly if it wasn't for this "dumbing down", I wouldn't be here.

As you've probably guessed from my profile, I'm a working mom - and a busy one at that.  I could spit out a list of responsibilities right now that would make you swoon...but it's not about that.  It's about balance and being content.  Notice, I didn't say "happy"... I said content.

I've had hobbies before that have not made me content.  I enjoyed them, yes.  In fact, I relished in them and dove in to the point of burnout.  They made me happy, but they did not make me content.  There was always something missing.  Mostly, it bothered me because the items I was creating weren't useful. 

In quilting, I find contentment, balance, and happiness.  I'm able to do something I love and it's useful.  Unless specifically made for a wall, I don't want my work to be showcased, I want it to be used.  I am not the type to want to spend time making pretty things for the sake of making pretty things.  There is nothing wrong with doing that, but it is not my desire.

Now that I've found this hobby that I adore - it pains me to see people nit-pick it.  My best friend and I were at a quilt show in Buxton, NC, last summer and a snot of a man walked by and said, "but they're all machine quilted".  I wanted to punch him.  There were some gorgeous quilts there...


And he snubbed them because of a machine?  Get real, Mister.

You see, to me, comparing a quickly-made, pre-cut using, machine-quilted work to a not-so-quick, no pre-cuts, hand-quilted work is like comparing hand-washed dishes to those done in a dishwasher.  Are the dishes more beautiful because of the cleaning method?  Hardly.  Likewise, the creativity, thought, and love that goes into a machine quilted quilt is no different than those that are hand quilted.  They are each crafted and created with care and thoughtful attention, and often fussed over because they are going to someone very special.  One is not more beautiful than the other simply because of the manner in which it was created.

My son doesn't care that his quilt was not done by hand or whether or not I used pre-cuts.  He cares that his mamma made him a quilt.

Hand piecing and quilting is beautiful, gorgeous, and wonderful.  The men and women who invest the time to do that are quite amazing to me.  But my admiration will continue to be from afar until we somehow figure out how to add more hours in a day.  If it weren't for my machine, I would get none of this done.  I can't do it by hand and expect to be finished in this lifetime. 
So what about this "dumbing down"?  Are we really dumbing it down when we make it more user-friendly?  Anything that makes creating a quilt quickly is fine with me.  I'm all for pre-cuts - I don't have the time to spend hours in quilt stores matching fabrics.  I wasn't born with an innate sense of color matching; I'm still learning.  They also save me time at the cutting table.

I'm also all for short-cuts in piecing and patterns - like the postage stamp quilt I did thanks to Rachel's tutorial.  The look on my grandma's face was priceless...and I would have never seen it otherwise.  Would her love for the quilt increased if I had individually pieced each two-inch square?  No.  In fact, knowing my grandma, she would have thought I was crazy for doing it...LOL!

It's not about perfection, or doing it the "right" way.  It's about doing what you love for people you love and being content.  If that means quilting by hand for you, super.  If it means using a machine, great.  If you choose to use pre-cuts, awesome.  If you hand pick your own fabrics, superb. 

There's really no need to fuss, because the rest...well...just doesn't matter.



  1. excellent dishwasher analogy!

  2. I came here to see your mug cute (cute, by the way), but this is the post that caused me to sign up as a Follower. I'm with you!

  3. Good for you - there is no room for quilt snobs in my world. I appreciate the handmade, handquilts, hand-appliqued but have come to accept that there are too many quilts to make in my world (and the fact that I have arthritus in my thumgs)to afford me such luxuries. I don't the recipients in Japan and Queensland will be any less grateful if the quilts they receive are machine made - and there will be a lot more recipients!

  4. Loving this! Hey I really think if it wasn't for a "new" way of quilting many in the younger generation like myself would not be quilting. I am open to however you want to make your quilts, so I'm with you, don't put down others if the don't do it "your" way!

  5. Very well said! Thank you!