An archive of sewing tutorials and inspiration


Purpose of Skill Building

In my quilting journey I have learned a lot of amazing things in a short period of time. It all started in Pottery Barn Kids, I saw a beautiful quilt and said to myself I could make that! At the time I had experience with sewing clothing and accessories, but had never made a quilt and I hadn't sewn in years.

My First Quilt
My First Quilt

I approached the making of my first quilt without any fear or apprehension, no thoughts of fear even cross my mind. I wanted to make a quilt so I made one. I wasn't worried about whether my points would match up or if I would ruin my fabric by cutting wrong. I just jumped in head first. I scoured the web for tutorials "How to Make a Quilt" and came across Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter. After only making one quilt I was addicted.

Coming from a graphic design background I immediately started to dream up ideas of quilts in my head. Only problem was I had know clue how to piece them. That was when my obsession of the "how-to" of quilting was born.

For months and months I read book after book, watched tutorial after tutorial. I bought the majority of Rodale's Successful Quilting Library, Quilters Academy and had read them cover to cover multiple times. I learned from many online bloggers, professional quilters and teachers. I quickly realized that there are a gazillion different ways to make a quilt and everyone seems to have their opinion on what ways are right and wrong. 

At that point in my quilting journey the most important lesson I had learned was this…

The best way to learn is to do and do and do and do until you find what does best for you. Experiment, play, make mistakes, continue to learn, and never stop. However, there is one important key…you must not approach your doing with fear. As soon as you began to let fear in, your learning will hault. The whole thought seems so cliche, right? But, I found it to be so true.

After realizing this lesson I decided to spend and entire year doing exactly that, experimenting, learning, playing, making mistakes and that is what gave birth to the Skill Builder Block of the Month. I designed the first Skill Builder quilt at the end of 2012 and challenged my readers to join me. 

Over the span of 2013 we tried a bunch of different techniques and really challenged ourselves. It was my hope that whatever skill level everyone was at when they started, whether beginner or seasoned quilter they would all walk away a little more experienced.

Over that year I watched brand new quilters go from quilting for the very first time to professionally quilting for clients in a matter of months! I will tell you their growth and success was not from me sharing some tutorials and lessons. Oh no definitely not, their growth and success came from their choice to challenge themselves, to try new things, and to approach this craft with no fear.

Sure, we all have to learn from somewhere right? I am indebted to those quilters who have taught me what I know, I could sit here an list out every single book, video and person who has inspired me, but that is not my point of this post. Everyone has a teacher, usually a bunch of teachers. Students learn, grow up, some even become teachers themselves and the cycle goes on and on. But, no matter how good the teacher I feel so strongly that a student cannot grow or succeed if they do not make the choice themselves to grow and succeed. 

In 2014 I continued the Skill Builder BOM and just as the year before I have learned so very much. Throughout this year I have actually began to learn even more about how fear can stunt our growth. I had let my desire for perfection and precision take control of me. That control turned into fear, especially in regards to machine quilting. There is so much inspiration all over, Pinterest alone is inspiration overload. The more and more I looked at the machine quilting of other quilters the more and more I obsessed over the problems with my own. Soon I was approaching machine quilting with an apprehension I had never experienced before. Up until this point I was so carefree, the point of making quilts was to enjoy myself and be a blessing to others. Right? I was complaining about my machine quilting to a friend when I realized, I had fallen into the fear trap! The moment I had fallen was the moment I stopped growing. 

Here we are approaching 2015 and the Skill Block of the Month has become something really special to me. It's more than just a class I sell on my site, so very much more. 

Technicolor Galaxy

Over the last week since I announced next years Skill Builder BOM quilt "Technicolor Galaxy", I have had a lot of people tell me that "only in their dreams they could make that quilt". 

So I write to you today to tell you that if you want to make the Technicolor Galaxy Quilt, or perhaps there is some really awesome pattern you have had in your "I wish" pile for years and years, do it. Now is the time, make that choice to challenge yourself! Be ready to make mistakes and be ready to have fun in the process of doing. Most importantly don't come with any fear! Are you in? 


p.s. Next week I will be posting a little more detail about the techniques we will be learning in next years block of the month that way you can get a little better idea of how the quilt will come together, stay tuned.

Alyssa Lichner

Alyssa Lichner

Creator of Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.