28 May 2015

Facing Your Fears and Finding Your Niche

What is a Niche?  And how do you find it?

Researching online led me to this definition in the Urban Dictionary:

1. An activity that particularly suits somebody's talents and personality.
2. An area of the market specializing in one type of product or service.



Okay, so now we have a broad idea of what a niche is.  But how do I find out what my niche is?

From a quilter's perspective, your niche obviously must be related to quilting. Of course, you are well aware that quilting is a broad based term that covers so many styles and techniques. Art quilts. Modern quilts. Hand quilted quilts. Free pieced quilts. Traditional quilts. How do you find your style? What techniques work for you? I can't tell you what your niche is, but I can share with you my experiences and personal story behind my journey to finding my niche.

Ask yourself....
"What quilting style and technique am I passionate about?"



Krazy Katz - my first quilt

When I sketched out that very first quilt for my daughter, and worked through the process of making this quilt, it was obvious to me right from the start that I was passionate about quilting. I started out doing a lot of appliqué work. Partly because appliqué allowed me to make the fabric go where I wanted them to go. And partly because I was intimidated. What? Who me?

Yes.  Me.

This is not easy to admit.
I was intimidated by the PERFECT 1/4" seam.

Let's Bee Honest.




While making my first quilt, I googled everything quilting related. I had no real idea of how to accomplish many of the processes in making a quilt. That googling led me to spend a lot of time reading quilting blogs. I found the answers to all my quilting questions. But I also developed an unreasonable fear of perfecting that 1/4" seam.



When I later started my own blog, I had a strong desire to find my niche. A purpose and a way to fill a need in the quilting community. I set out to provide my readers with quilting tutorials, My hope was to face my fears and help others do the same. This led to my writing the Top 10 Tips for New Quilters.



Gradually, I became less intimidated by the Rules of Quilting. I was up for the challenge. And took on the lessons in practising piecing. I mastered that 1/4" seam. Tackled curved piecing. Thumbed my nose at the Quilt Police. Tamed those triangles. Tried every binding method known to mankind. And shared my experiences with posts about the processes and all kinds of tips and tutorials.



Along the way, I found out what I liked to do and what I did not care much for doing. I like to design my own patterns. I like piecing. I like using solids. I like making picture quilts. I like collecting fabric. I do not care much for doing a lot of repetitive blocks. I do not care much for doing appliqué. Along the way, my passion began to have a focus.



This passion, for fabric in particular, led me to an admiration for the artist, Charley Harper, whose style falls in the category of Minimalism. The simplicity of this art style appeals on so many levels. And lends itself well to designing something that can be pieced. My first instinct was to copy this style. Charley Harper's Birch Bark and Birds could easily be made into a quilt that would fit well in the Modern movement that is so prevalent in quilting today. So tempting. But I don't want to copy. I want to create.



What can I take from Charley Harper's style that can be used to create my own unique style? What is it about his style that appeals to me? Simple design. Simple shapes. Perspective. Point of view. Repetition.



When I was young, I used to spend hours drawing animals. Those sketches were always in a style I would describe as Realism. But I enjoyed those hours. And was proud of my work. Life got in the way of that practice. But now it's back. And it gives me so much joy.



So this is my niche...
Designing patterns for and piecing picture quilts in a modern minimalist style.






My style is still in it's infancy. But I have a focus. And it is likely to evolve as I grow in my quilting experience. And I know I am on the right track. I know this because my friends (Yes, this is YOU...) tell me so. And so does my heart.



Let's Bee Honest!

Are any of you interested in joining a never ending linky party where you share a Let's Bee Honest post?  Maybe about facing your fears?  Or telling us how you really feel about any given subject?  




Are you willing to share?
What intimidates you?
What are you doing to overcome the fear?
Have you found your niche?

Share your thoughts in the comments.  I would love to hear about your experiences!


Keep On Quilting On!






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22 comments:

Christine Feldstein said...

This is funny : The Quilting Niche! The first meaning of niche in French is the dog's house and the second one is an economy meaning. What intimidates me is the mathematics in quilting. I don't overcome, I just don't calculate!

Karin said...

Interesting...yes, can relate to your post. Probably not far of you...know my niche, but seem to be pulled all the time in many different directions.

Phantom-Rose said...

I'd have to say my biggest intimidation are foundation and paper piecing and anything involving a sewing machine - I am a 30-year hand-stitched and proud of it! LOL. I overcome these intimidations by avoiding them like the Plague. Eventually I hope to overcome my paper piecing fear but I have too many things I want to try before I go there.
I, too, am passionate about the planning and design phase. Weirdly, I actually enjoy the math aspect as well. I especially enjoy Hexie designing just because I am also passionate about EPP. It has its own unique challenges that I find frustrating yet stimulating.

Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen said...

Funny, my son and I were brainstorming a few days ago about where I wanted to go with my pattern designing and he said "mom, you need to find your niche. You're all over the place". At the time I was a bit insulted but he's right. Sometimes the truth hurts! lol Yes, I'd be interested in linking up.

Shasta Matova said...

You definitely have a great quilting niche, and I love coming to your blog and seeing what you are up to.

Sometimes when I blog, I know that very few people will see my post, and I think a big reason is that I don't have a quilting style. (The other reason is that my lifestyle / job doesn't allow me to post regularly throughout the year, and the fact that I am not nearly as prolific as you are). There are so many things I want to do and they all range in style. I love the variety that quilting offers, and I can't see myself limiting my choices in that way. Maybe eventually I will have a definite quilting style and people will be able to say - that looks like something Shasta made, but it may be a long time before I get there.

Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl said...

I think that the hardest part of defining my "niche" is the fact that I take on commission work that is outside of that "niche". I relate so much with your process of growth and learning and working to find what speaks to me, though, and I love that our blogs document and remind us of just how much we have learned and grown! I personally love the idea of a Let's Bee Honest link up; being "real" and adding to the community are definitely a huge part of why I blog.

Daytona Damsel said...

I haven't quite found my niche yet. I do like learning new things, I lean more towards modern and simple design and I prefer bright colors and soft colors. I have a love hate relationship with sewing machines and therefore have am afraid obsessed with learning free motion quilting, which I just can seem to learn. I would love to build an inspiring blog like yours but am not tech aware at all. My brain leans more towards artistic creative than math and mechanics. I would definite participate in the Let's Be Honest link up. Debbie

Phantom-Rose said...

I'd have to say my biggest intimidation are foundation and paper piecing and anything involving a sewing machine - I am a 30-year hand-stitched and proud of it! LOL. I overcome these intimidations by avoiding them like the Plague. Eventually I hope to overcome my paper piecing fear but I have too many things I want to try before I go there.
I, too, am passionate about the planning and design phase. Weirdly, I actually enjoy the math aspect as well. I especially enjoy Hexie designing just because I am also passionate about EPP. It has its own unique challenges that I find frustrating yet stimulating.

Alycia said...

Its a funny word isn't it. I constantly work with Red White and Blue - but when I go shopping I am drawn to really bright colors - so I feel pulled out of my niche - and it's a wierd feeling. Sometimes I wonder where I fit in , in the quilting world, and sometimes I feel like the outsider looking in. This is though provoking

Jasmine said...

As you know, I really love simple quilts. I am much more likely to use an eight inch square than a one inch square. I sometimes stretch myself, but I always go back to the more simple quilts. They make me happy because I can play with the quilting and finish something. What a great thought provoking post.

Lara B. said...

Hi Lorna! In the eleven months that I have known you it has been inspiring and quite a lot of fun to watch you as you found your niche. You zeroed in on it right before my eyes and your evolution as a quilter seemed almost magical. But then, I have missed all the years of growth before you started making your modern, minimalist picture quilts. On Pinterest, I did once see a paper pieced bee that you made though, and even though you aren't fond of paper piecing, it was Very Good! LOL You could design and sew anything you put your mind to, the whole key is how much you enjoy doing it.
I was intimidated by hand sewing bindings, by the scant 1/4 inch seam (I still don't really ever do that) and by star points. You learn when you dive right in, just like you did.
I'm curious about what you mean by a never ending linky party and how you would keep it active. I know I would like to read the "Let's Bee Honest" posts (Love the button!) I'm not sure if I could write one up like you have here. I tend to lace my confessions and thoughts into regular posts.

Susan Arnold said...

Very interesting post, and of course, applies not only to finding your niche in the quilting world, but in life in general. We all go through an evolution, finding what we like and what we don't, narrowing down the field until we hit upon what makes our heart sing. If we're then able to incorporate that talent into what we do in our everyday lives, then we have found true happiness.
Now, as for this idea and how it relates to me and the quilting world, I have to much to say, and will save it for a blog post!

Allison Babcock said...

Yes--I have learned so much from other quilters who shared their fears and mistakes and how they pushed through or how they learned to master them.

Peta - SheQuiltsAlot said...

Brilliant! I've been thinking about this a lot lately in a justifying myself kind of way which I'm not sure is really helpful. I like so many styles but like to participate and engage in the modern quilting community Thanks for your article it's been a light bulb moment for me and I appreciate it. XO

Lisa J. said...

I often think about finding my niche. In the quilt blogging world and in my quilting itself. Sometimes you have to try a lot of things to figure out what you don't like before settling on what you like or where you fit in. I'm leaning more and more towards modern and would like to find more creative expression there. And yes I'll need to take some links and probably more classes. I'm in awe of people who create their own patterns and original quilts.
And then of course there is the back log of WIPs and projects to make for friends and family...and the job and the yard and the pets etc. etc.

SewPsyched! said...

Yes! The hardest part about finding your niche is listening to yourself, and not to what others say is important to do. Everyone is unique, and everyone can achieve!! I'm up for the Lets Bee Honest Linky. I have loved seeing your evolution. I can't wait to see what's next! You go!!!

Patty D from NC said...

Great post. I've been thinking my way through my own version of my niche. Nice to have you as a quilting friend.

Jenny L said...

Another thought provoking post! I'm too new to quilting not to want to try so many things I've seen. But already some clear boundaries are appearing for me such as little hand work as possible. I will adapt a pattern but never feel comfortable with pen in hand to redesign properly. And a dislike of fabrics that to me look just like the stuff I was using in High School!!
Reading blogs such as yours is so refreshing when they come across as real and questioning. So anything such as your new idea to get honest debate going sounds good to me.

Jayne said...

Finding your niche...I do think you have found yours! I wish I knew what the heck mine was. Trying to find it is really a struggle sometimes. Blogging has defined it a little more for me, but its always changing. The hope is that we all find it, people like it and we can grow while fine tuning it. Love your idea of 'Let's Bee Honest'. Keep us posted! You are always an inspiration. Through projects, designs or thoughtful posts. You got this girl!!

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge said...

Love this post, Lorna! It's so interesting to read how you worked through finding your artistic voice, or your niche as you put it. I also love that it speaks to one's fears and potential failures. Sometimes things get a little too rosy out here in blogland and it can be intimidating for new quilters and bloggers alike. I'd be in for Let's Bee Honest!

And can I just say that your first quilt is ridonkulously good! Ack! Appliqué! I was eons before I tackled appliqué!

Beth Strand said...

Count me in. I've gotten braver over the years about realizing that I don't have to try to be everyone's favorite flavor. ..in my quilting and my life. Sounds like a great link up! Beth @ Words & Stitches.

Ruth said...

This one has me thinking. I was very intimidated by combining fabrics particularly in terms of tones and colour and that is probably a big part of what I love about quilting - how the same fabrics in different places can change things completely. I may have overcome that one but I wouldn't say I have a niche. I love to learn and try new techniques so i haven't focused in on any one thing though I am drawn to modern traditionalism more so than art quilts and pictorial over realistic. I love your modern, solids, minimal, animals!

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