Intimidation or Inspiration?

It’s ok to be intimidated… look at something and be just a little afraid. To not know what to do or where to start. It is not ok to let that intimidation stop you before you even start.  Truly successful people take intimidation and turn it into inspiration. The same is so very true for machine quilting.

I don’t write a blog because I think that I am any better than anyone else, I write it because I want to encourage quilters to try free-motion quilting. Some quilters know they don’t like the quilting and I am totally fine with that, some of those people are my best customers. I am talking about the quilters that want to try it, but are scared….or the quilters that have given up because they think there is no way that they can do it.

I know that feeling, because I have felt it myself! When I was just beginning, I talked my husband into driving me to the Machine Quilter’s Showcase in Illinois. I had mastered my meanders and could even quilt a leaf….I really thought I had made it. But I walked into the show and I was shocked senseless. I didn’t know about any of the things I was seeing……beautiful, crazily quilted quilts with designs that sparkled. It was enough to depress me, I was intimidated. But once I knew it could be done, I knew I wanted to try……I was inspired.

Too often, people don’t take that leap….they stay intimidated……I say, come to the other side…be inspired….it’s takes practice, lots of practice. But any skill takes a lot of effort.

Stop comparing yourself to other quilters!

I think that the reason most people are intimidated, is that they compare themselves to other quilters way too much. What we see on blogs isn’t the whole story. I don’t show quilts that don’t look good. I don’t tell you about the customer’s quilt that I messed up and had to rip all of the quilting out of (just a few months ago). I don’t tell of the things that I have tried to do in this industry and failed. I share the fun stuff, the happy stuff.

This is my full-time job, I don’t have to do this and another job. Three days a week all my kids are in school, and all I do is quilt….well, that and get coffee! On my blog, I get to show quilts that I didn’t have to make and that I don’t have to bind. I am definitely not saying that I don’t work hard, because I do. I am just saying  that comparing yourself to someone else is so unfair.

So what is the point of this rant? I want this blog to be inspiring not intimidating. Let me encourage you, not depress you. Please ask me questions! Keep asking if I don’t answer. I love what I do and I want others to love it as well!

This is one of the quilts that I quilted after I had been quilting for a year! One whole year of quilting and this is where I was…..Let this be the inspiration for your quilting journey!

Remember……if it can be done it can be learned.

Ok, enough of that! Tomorrow I will be back with a less wordy post. Happy Quilting!



  1. Thank you for this advice. I have been intimidated and have compared myself to other quilters. I am getting to the point where I can be myself and have confidence to quilt what I am inspired to quilt. But it isnt easy. I love your blog and of course your quilting.

  2. I heart you… and your quilting. And while I am TOTALLY intimidated by your amazingness, I also am TOTALLY inspired. 🙂 What a perfectly worded encouragement. 🙂

  3. Great advice for quilting and beyond!

  4. Great post, Angela! One of my favorite guild meetings was when you were the presenter and shared your quilting. One of my favorite parts of your presentation was the beginning…when you shared your very first quilts! It really inspired me to keep pushing my boundaries. Some efforts are more successful than others, but each one is a learning experience and that’s what counts! Thanks for your encourangement!

  5. We all forget that there is a beginning, everyone has to start there and while some people may have a easier time of it most of us have to really work at it. Love your advise and love your quilting even more. I’m like the book “I think I can, I think I can”.

  6. You have a great way with words, besides quilting. Thanks for your encouragement!

  7. Great post! I think you hit the nail right on the head for a lot of people. I tend to sit in the opposite camp – I see amazing quilting and just assume I’ll be able to quilt like that too. Then I look back and realise that perhaps I was a little over confident – but at least I’m trying. And I’m getting there – and enjoying it! I’m especially enjoying your quilting designing posts at the moment.

  8. Thanks so for your post. I quilt on a domestic Pfaff that has a larger opening then just a regular one. I have been doing so for a few years but am getting more and more into it.Let me say i love FMQ! I follow blogs that the writers have a similar set up to my own and have learned alot from them. Then i came across yours (forget how) and have added you to my “follow”. Your quilting is definitely inspirational to me, even though i will probably never have a long arm. It is what i love, how it is mostly organic and original. I guess i have learned in life is that there will always be someone better to compare ourselves with but that just keeps us from knowing our own gifts and then appreciate the gifts of others, right? Anyways keep the pics coming. I will be anxious to see what you are up to and maybe even try a few designs.
    Keep up the good work and always have fun!

  9. Dear Angela, You are the shit! Love, Jenny

  10. sillyandrea says:

    “What we see on blogs isn’t the whole story. ” YES YES YES!

    While I’ve been sewing for years, it hasn’t been constant and I’ve only been doing machine quilting for the past couple years, figuring it out as I go.

    And the nicely styled pics? If only you could see the mess just out of the frame. 😀

  11. I am realizing that quilting takes TIME – and if I don’t have that, I have to find someone else who does. I also find I get stuck on what I want the quilting to look like. I think I have a good idea, then I see another idea, and so on. And of course all of those ideas keep me from actually doing the quilting!

  12. Angela, great post! I agree with you!

    While there are a handful of people who are able to do beautiful work after just a few weeks of practice, I think for the most part it is something that occurs after many hours of practice. I have spent several years practicing and taking classes just to feel somewhat adequate at my longarm. Oftentimes I am very unhappy with what I have done, and spend lots of hours ripping out.

  13. April McCusker says:

    I just found your blog! I have been quilting for many years. I am at the point with the kids gone the majority of the time that I am getting about a quilt a month done. It is getting pretty expensive to keep sending it out to get quilted and so I have been extremely interested in trying my hand at machine quilting…I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO START! any suggestions?? other than stitching in the ditch…I’ve done nothing!!

  14. thanks for this post. i’ve had a mid arm for about a year and a half and have only had time to do a few quilts. I got the meander down pat and now i’m ready for more. This is the post that is going to get me going. i was going to use a panto but really like the free motion. this weekend the quilt on the frame is going to get really swirly?? thanks again for the encouragement and words of reality. practice practice practice

  15. Teresa Silva says:

    I appreciate your posts so much…I’ve been longarming for one year now and I’m learning to break stuff into smaller pieces and then it doesn’t seem so intimidating and also lots of practice and drawing on paper. I love all that you do. Your quilting is so artistic and I think that is what I love the most about what you do. It really showcases a quilt and adds so much more.

  16. This is a lovely blog post! It really applies to so many different aspects of life beyond quilting (though I feel like I see it in quilting more so than anywhere else).

  17. Oh Angela, you are such a true inspiration- and I mean that. Though I have only been quilting for about 9 months I have had my eye on the “prize” (quilts that look like yours do) since day one. There have been challenges along the way and I have obvious strengths and weaknesses- but my wholehearted desire to be as good as I can be has kept me from being intimidated and instead made me train like a prize fighter… I want to win win win! I embrace this journey fully and work the hardest to conquer what challenges me the most- and ultimately I know I will be a very good quilter- because I won’t stop until I am. If it weren’t a challenge I would be bored by now- but the thing that keeps me stitching every day is the prize- and now my goal of quilting professionally seems more real daily. I love this post- I love your honesty and availability to those that admire you- you are a gem and a fantastic resource. Thank you for these words and girls- if you want it that bad then don’t let anything stop you- you can win win win too! 🙂

  18. Beautifully written! And true to all aspects of producing a quilt (and life)!

  19. Angela, YOU are an inspiration to me! YOU were the second person I called about my Lady June (My husband was the first one). You are a bottomless well of brilliant advice and suggestions. Your take on quilting makes me say AHHHHHH EVERY SINGLE TIME I see one of your quilts. This post was full of encouragement and inspiration. Thank you for being brilliant and thank you for inspiring me!

  20. Ditto all that’s been said- add that I’m not intimidated, definitely inspired- needing more practice. My first attempts at ideas I’ve gained from you are shown in my blog today . Sadly, my photos aren’t the quality of yours either but hey- using the phone sure is easy! Thanks for all you do and for sharing w/us!

  21. But Angela, I thought there were only three (or five) quilting patterns?


    Love ya,

    Riley 🙂

  22. Bless you! I am INSPIRED! You should see the mess I made of my first baby quilting. But my second is so much better! I still know where all the imperfections are but the improvement gives me hope. I love quilting. I enjoy the piecing, but my goal is the quilting. Molly (earlier blog post) and I sound like kindred spirits. Thanks as always for sharing your gift with us.

    • I love a kindred spirit- keep at it Ramona, you can conquer and master this- you really can! It amazes me to think of how much I have learned in such a short time, but I think back on all the practice time I have committed and it makes sense- if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough you will soon be amazed by your abilities! you can check out my quilting at

  23. Hi! I have been following Sew4Home for a while and saw your interview with them this week and LOVED what I read! I am as new as a newbie can get to FMQ. I have been piecing and ditch stitching for 10 years and have finally gotten my hands on a better home machine that is able to do FMQ. I am SO inspired and SO intimidated at the same time. After my first try I put everything away and haven’t so much as looked at it since 😦 Thanks for giving me a reason to pick up where I left off and try again!!

  24. You are inspiring to all of us on so many levels. Letting us all know that you are also scared and intimitated at times gives that “push” we all need to try again.

    I design and make quilt tops, but l never do more then simple quilting on wall hangings, I will try again to improve my skills. I will always have my big quilts done by a machine quilter.

  25. Thank you so much for this post. I think this is one of the most encouraging posts I have ever read. I get intimidated easily and I am so glad to hear that you too were the same way. Fresh eyes now, thank you.

  26. I am inspired. Totally and always! Your work is wonderful! 🙂 Hugs!

  27. I think this post ought to be reposted quarterly, because I need the reminders frequently!!! I remember when you first posted it, and I was grateful then as I am now! Thank you, as always! You are an inspiration to everyone around you! ❤ ❤ ❤

  28. Thank you Angela. I’m having a difficult time with my long arm, she’s being a testy bitch with thread breakages, and I must admit I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel a few times. I will persevere. I will quilt more quilts, and I will get better at it.

  29. Amen Sister!!! MQS is what started my journey also. Wow those quilts are fabulous. Someday I may be able to do some of that! My quilting improves quilt by quilt. I like knowing I have made my quilt start to finish. You are an inspiration and it does not bother me that I will probably never quilt like you 😉 If I could just master those darn feathers!

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