I caught “Quilt Pox” while stationed in Hawaii in the early 1980s. Back then, quilters were still making patterns using cardboard to trace around and cutting fabric pieces out with scissors.

By the time I left for Fort Hood in 1985, the rotary cutter had been introduced. This little cutting tool revolutionized how quilters cut their blocks out, and many new techniques were invented because of it.

I started out as any new quilter would: Finding a simple block pattern that I was confident I could sew together and have it look good when I finished. As time went by, I chose more complicated block patterns until now, 30-some years later, I’m pretty confident I can piece just about anything.

So in order to grow my skills, I found a quilt kit designed by Judy Niemeyer. She is known for her very intricate quilt designs and I’ve admired them for quite a while. She uses the paper piecing technique to construction her quilts.

There are workshops just for Judy’s quilts, and the instructor has to be certified in order to teach a workshop. So if I haven’t made myself clear by now — her quilts are hard to construct.

I’m sure this kit I bought will be a test of my capabilities. I’m looking forward to stretching my skills. If we don’t keep growing our skills, we eventually become bored and, heaven forbid, might even stop quilting altogether.

I have to admit my quilting skills have become routine and boring, so I decided to join several quilting groups on Facebook. The quilts that they have shared have inspired me to find time to practice some free motion quilting and break out of my regular edge-to-edge slump.

When I practice, enough my clients will benefit from a whole new world of quilting designs to choose from. Key word here is “practice.” But I’m excited to learn some new designs and skills.

Our local quilt guild will be having its quilt show Sept. 7-8.

I have a quilt I’ve been working on since 1999. I now have the top ready to quilt, and am hoping to enter it in the show.

I’ve always entered quilts into shows. I want to know how I’m progressing as a quilter. There’s no better way than to have it judged. The comments, both good and critical, from the judges help me grow.

One comment I always got on my judging sheet was that my quilts needed more quilting. So I knew that was something I had to work on. Of course that was when I was hand quilting my quilts.

Now that I have a long arm machine, I can quilt the top until there might be too much quilting.

I encourage all quilters to enter their quilts into shows. Let your community enjoy your creations and at the same time you will learn where you may be able to hone your skills.

I cringe when a quilter says they’ll never enter a quilt to get judged because they’re afraid of the judges comments.

Really? How do you expect to grow if you don’t know where your skills are lacking? Maybe the judge noticed something you did exceedingly well, and that would be nice to know also. I’m always tickled then I know there’s a mistake in my quilt and the judge never mentions it.

At this stage of my quilting journey, I’m excited to stretch my skills. How about you?

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