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In generations past, the time-honored methods of quilting were passed down from mother to daughter. These days, a would-be quilter doesn't have to look for an old fashioned quilting bee to sharpen her skills. The resources available to learn the art of quilting today are nearly endless.
In the quest to become a better quilter, an amateur can look to many resources. One low tech resource is the local library or bookstore, where there are hundreds of titles with step-by-step instructions and patterns. There are magazines devoted solely to the art of quilting, packed with all the latest techniques, tools and materials available. If you find that you need more one-on-one in-person instruction, large craft stores such as Joann have low-cost classes available on a regular basis. These stores offer one-stop quilting shopping, complete with instruction and training, tools and materials.
For "cutting-edge" modern quilters, there are many resources available on the Internet: how-to sites, blogs, quilting groups, and so on. Most of these sites offer free, up-to-date tips and advice on quilting, as well as reviews of quilting tools and machines. These sites are invaluable for an amateur quilter looking for practical advice and opinions to help her improve her craft.
For the computer savvy quilter, there are software programs to help improve one's quilting. These programs have patterns, auto layouts, templates, foundation patterns, cutting charts and fabric yardage estimates. They allow quilters to use virtual quilt drawing tools, view fabrics in a pattern, and print out a completed "virtual" quilt. Although quilting will always be a very creative, labor intensive craft, the power of the computer allows quilters to speed up certain laborious steps. Also available are different types of inkjet paper especially designed for use in quilting, such as peel and stick fabric sheets and appliqué tracing sheets.
Once the quilter educates herself in the art of quilting, she must make sure that she is equipped with the proper tools of the trade. Obviously, needles are an important tool in quilting, and they must be selected for either hand or machine quilting. Thread is another consideration, and many quilters prefer a cotton/poly blend. Another important tool the quilter must have in her arsenal is a good pair of scissors -- first and foremost, they must be sharp and comfortable. The rotary cutter, cutting mat and transparent ruler have become the trifecta of quilt preparation, and no self-respecting quilter is without them. As most quilters will agree, a quality sewing machine -- old fashioned or computerized -- can help any beginning quilter turn out a work of art -- although a steady hand with an old fashioned needle can create an equally beautiful quilt.
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