Twenty-two years ago, when I was just 21, a kind lady taught me the art of quiltmaking. A gift I’ve been truly thankful for ever since (my bank account on the other hand, not so much, but that’s another story). Since then, I’ve taught many others to quilt and I’ve learned a lot of wisdom from my fellow quilters along the way. If I were to start my journey again, these are some of the rules I wish I’d been taught.

The Rules of Quilt Club

1. Never ever point out your mistakes.

You are the only person who will notice your mistakes, and they are what make your quilt unique. They don’t distract from the overall beauty of the quilt. So, when someone compliments your quilt, no matter how you personally feel about it, simply smile and say ‘Thankyou’. (You made a thing! You’re amazing!)

2. There is no right or wrong way, only the way that works for you.

There are a dozen different ways to make a quilt, from different piecing methods to all the varieties of applique and beyond. There is no ‘Quilt Police’, no one is going to take your quilting privileges away for not pressing to the dark side. Hey, if it works for you, then it’s the right way. Enjoy the process, simples!

3. Be kind to yourself, don’t expect perfection on your first try.

Ok, unless you were one of those weirdly gifted children who mastered riding a bike on their first go, chances are almost everything you now know took time and practice to learn. We forget this as adults, and we get disheartened when we don’t succeed on our first try. Be kind to yourself, it’s ok, you wouldn’t expect to figure skate on your first time out on the ice, so why expect to master free motion quilting in an hour. Youtubers do it for a living, it’s their job to make it look easy. 😉

4. Don’t let your fear of failure curb your ambition, you may just surprise yourself.

I have a confession to make, I didn’t sew a curved seam until two years ago. I was warned off them when I first started quilting, and so I avoided them for twenty years. However, once I’d done one, I realised they are a bit tricky, but not impossible, and not nearly tricky enough to avoid them forever. So, go for it! Don’t be afraid to mess up, it might just turn out alright.

5. There is no limit to how many quilts can be ‘Works in Progress ‘at any given time.

I’ll admit it, I’m a project butterfly! I flit from project to project, and I get distracted easily. Therefore, I decree it’s ok to have as many WIPs (AKA UFOs) as you want!

6. Never ask a quilter how long a quilt took to finish.

Well, you can, but you may not like the look you get. Lols. Rules 5 & 6 are related, plus, life has a tendency of getting in the way. Hey, so long as it’s finished, I call that a win!

7. Always find a kind word to say about other’s quilts.

Let’s be honest, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Each quilt is as different to each other as humans are, and even though you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen that particular lime green, retina burning fabric for that quilt, the points are superb, and the overall pattern is quite pleasing. 😉

8. When in doubt, buy more fabric!

No explanation needed for this one!


  1. Vivienne

    As a newbie to quilting I’m struggling with the very first of these – I felt a compulsion to ‘confess’ to my mistakes on my first (and so far only) completed quilt! My heart knew that the recipient (new Grandaughter) wasn’t bothered but my self-critical brain got in the way.

    However in another moment of confession I have to admit to being a fully paid up member of rule No 8 – this includes the need to periodically give my fabrics an airing where I can caress and stroke them before putting them away again 🙂

    1. Emma Josie Bradford Watling Post author

      Hi Vivienne, welcome to the club! I’d love to see a picture of it, you always remember your first quilt. I’m certain your granddaughter cherishes it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it follows her on her life adventures when she’s grown up too.
      Notice that there is no rule that says you must use all your fabric, so stroke and admire away. 😉 X

  2. Karin Pope

    Thank goodness for number 5. Like you,I am a butterfly project maker. Currently I have about 6 longterm projects that I make progress on slowly but surely when the mood takes me.They are waiting when I need them. Then there are the things I sign up for like BOMs or sew -a-longs,and then the “ooh,I’d love to make that”ones that crop up while net browsing. I love having the choice.Oh and number 10 is always good too