Quiltmaking Skill Levels

This listing is my personal evaluation. It's not intended as an official endorsement or validation. The classes are recommended for different skill levels.

Evaluate your personal skill level, and select classes that are suited to those skills. You may be more knowledgeable than you realize!

Quilting Skilled Beginner
A skilled beginner knows how to:

Although skills are not perfected (because you're new to quilting),  you have heard and understand the following terms and phrases:

  • applique
  • backing
  • basting
  • batting
  • bias
  • binding
  • fat quarter
  • foundation or paper-piecing
  • grainline
  • pieced work
  • scant quarter-inch seam allowance
  • rotary cutter
  • selvage

You can sew simple pieced designs, and simple applique. Blocks may come out different sizes or odd-shaped. You are loving EVERY quilt you see, and aren't sure how to sew the designs you like.

Patterns can be confusing, and classes are REALLY helpful. You don't know if a pattern is easy enough or too challenging for your skill level.

You've attended your first quilt show, but you're hesitant to enter your work for others to see.

Intermediate Quilter

You have been quilting several years, and are participating in most of the following activities:

  • Regularly attend or have taken several quilting classes.
  • Know, understand & have mastered most of the terms above.
  • You're trying more challenging patterns and designs.
  • You're having more success with piecing skills - most blocks and designs coming out similar sizes.
  • You're learning the finer points of pressing, cutting, adjusting seam allowance for better accuracy.

You know and understand following terms or skills:

  • comfortable with your sewing machine
  • competent at paper or foundation piecing
  • controlling bias edges
  • free-motion quilting
  • gaining confidence with fabric selection
  • hand quilting (stab stitching vs. running stitch, etc)
  • machine quilting
  • mitered corners
  • setting-in seams

You have a growing list of designs you want to sew. You are occasionally frustrated that you can't find the exact pattern or design you envision. You are beginning to enter quilts into quilt shows.

Advanced Quilter

All basic skills are mastered. You have attempted or mastered the following skills:

  • dyeing your own fabrics
  • designing quilt blocks
  • designing quilting patterns
  • drafting blocks & patterns
  • combining designs from various sources
  • changing scale of patterns to suit the finished project
  • learning more advanced techniques to enhance your work
  • adding more complex and dense quilting to the finished quilt top
  • know how to control buckling and wrinkling in finished quilt
  • quilt edges are usually straight, right angles are true
  • good use of value and print scale in your designs

You may or may not be regularly entering your work into local and national competitions. You may feel that classes don't have much to offer you, and start noticing that patterns in the magazines are looking familiar (a new look to the same design).

You are ready to attend seminars with multiple-day classes offered by leading top-notch instructors in the quilting field. (There's still much to discover!) 

Professional Quilter

You are actively involved in various quilt-related fields, and are paid for your work. You may be doing any (or all) of the following occupations:

  • quiltmaking for personal, commercial or commission purposes
  • long-arm professional quilting services
  • teaching quilting classes
  • writing books or magazine articles
  • pattern design and publication
  • public speaking
  • traveling to share quilt making
  • producing quilt shows in your local area
  • performing historical research, documentation
  • providing quilt appraisals
  • judging quilt shows
  • involved in television programs which promote quilting
  • designing textiles
  • shop owner, vendor, or mail-order merchant
  • host a quilting related website featuring your work, designs and products
  • a top award-winner at prominent quilt shows
  • featured in magazines and books
  • featured artist of quilt or museum show
  • sponsoring / organizing quilt symposiums or retreats
  • have received public awards and honors for your work

You are still learning and growing, but the focus is all-encompassing, and balancing time is a real challenge. You are sharing yourself, and learning from your students and clients.


Teacher of the year 1998