Advice for the Quilty Inclined

July 31, 2015

Dear Stephanie v2I finally finished up my first cozy rag quilt, made from some hard-to-find flannel Marmalade, by Bonnie & Camille. It was relaxing, thought-free sewing at its best.  My kids and I love cuddling up with it on the couch.  The snapshot of it made the perfect backdrop as a header for my newest project….

I’m starting something new in my blogging life called Dear Stephanie, which ties to my career as a psychologist. Friends frequently ask for my thoughts on tricky situations  because of my background… so I figure, why not just write about my opinions here?

Once a month I will post a question with my  response to it. The topics will be quilting related, with a social bend to them.  We live in a complex world of human interactions cocooned in social media, where subtleties and gray areas  abound.  You may or may not agree with me, but I hope it will be a fun way to start conversations about issues that often concern us all.

 If you have a question you would like me to address and publish, you can email me at I will not use your name, and will change any identifying  information, if need be.

Without further ado, here is the first question that a lovely acquaintance of mine recently invited me to address:

Dear Stephanie,

 I recently published a free pattern on a public, third party website, and  received a few negative and cruel comments.  I was excited about the pattern,  and thought it was really unique.  The commentors called my project odd and  useless.  I felt hurt and embarrassed.  It began with one rude comment, and then others seemed to join in. Although it’s a public site, I can choose to delete the comments if I want to.  Should I erase them and forget it? If not, how should I respond?


Should it Stay or Should it Go Now


Compass Star by Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter

Dear Should it Stay or Should it Go Now,

 There are a host of people who revere the attribute of honesty in interpersonal  relationships.  I would put myself in this camp.  However, there is a subset in our  culture who feel that in the quest for honesty, impertinence is acceptable.

This is where I disagree.  It is possible to be honest, without resorting to  rudeness.  Sometimes it may take awhile to consider how to phrase opinions in  order to avoid  hurting the recipient. Thank goodness for the frontal lobe of the  brain; most people are capable of this if they slow down and try.

Yet the cloak of anonymity and the lure of immediacy in the world of social media make it the perfect scene for the crime of impertinent honesty.

As the recipient of the comments, it’s your right to make the decision to delete.  This is not a government affair that requires ultimate transparency; if you are in control of the comment feed on your post, then make no mistake, you have the power to choose whether to ignore it, comment on it, email the person directly, or delete it.

One variable you should consider when making the decision is whether the commentor in question has a history of leaving you rude comments that fail to add to the collective conversation in a thoughtful, careful way. If this is the case, it’s like an unhealthy relationship that needs to be dealt with quickly and surely.   Click delete and don’t look back.

However, if there is no history, you may need to consider what the potential consequences will be in clicking delete. Depending on the size of your audience, the fallout from deleting the comments could be messier than the problem of withstanding the embarrassment caused by a few rude people whom you will never hear from again.  After deleting the comment, you may find that every quilter on the Internet feels the need to weigh in on the situation.

So if you choose to erase a comment, be prepared to hold strong and maintain that it’s your right to make the decision.

But I have another take on this particular situation.

Give yourself a pat on the back for getting a set of rude comments about how odd your pattern is. Those comments are keepers in my book.   Print them out to put it on your wall as a badge of honor.  When you push the envelope and do something truly unique, you are sure to get negative feedback.  It’s how the world works. The fact that you received these comments is a sure indication that you have done something totally outside of the box. And that to me is a sign of a true design genius.

I say leave the comments, and respond publicly with a comment of your own.  Let people know that you are proud to create things that challenge the norm in the quilting world.  Let them know that you are thrilled that your work causes people to sit up, take notice, and think a little.

Cheers to you! Keep on designing. Keep on challenging. We need more of you in this world.





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  • Reply sandralouise July 31, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Your answer is spot on, Stephanie, not only from a human standpoint but from a PR one. Deleting the comments will do nothing to improve a brand or reputation, but being confident in the response as you suggest, is the smartest thing this blogger can do. It’s a shame that people think it’s ok to be cruel because the Web allows them anonymity, but I prefer to focus on its ability to connect. Who knows? A thoughtful response might even make that person think twice before being so rude again.

  • Reply Summer July 31, 2015 at 7:03 am

    To the maker: If this is a pattern that you love and labored long over, then it has a special sentiment to you. That someone could glance at it for a few seconds then declare it “odd” or “useless” (and I argue here that a quilt could never be useless!) just means that they don’t have that attachment and didn’t take the time to make one. Also, their mama never taught them several things: don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes; if you haven’t anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all; and when all else fails, just say “Aw, bless her heart, at least she tried.” (Hey, I’m Southern here!)
    To the commenters: If you’re trying to establish yourself as an authority of anything on social media, you need to take the time to make thoughtful comments. Otherwise, your throwaway comments (whether good or bad) will be largely ignored or thought of as juvenile. Think about product reviews that you’ve seen. The ones that say “This sucks!” with no other explanation don’t tend to sway you to purchase or not because the comment tells you nothing about the product, just the commenter (lazy, juvenile, not authoritative). Instead, if someone comments, “This product did not work as advertised and fell apart completely after two uses. I contacted customer service, who sent out replacement parts, but they were for a different model. After several calls back and forth, I was finally given a refund after two months,” then you’re likely to rethink buying that particular product.
    So don’t give weight to throwaway comments. Most other people (using their brains) won’t either.
    Which leads us to the lemming commenters: Who’s more foolish – the fool or the fool who follows him?

  • Reply Anja @ Anja Quilts July 31, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Wow. There is no excuse for rudeness. Great advice. Now I’m intrigued to see the pattern. Kudos to the designer for putting it out there for the world to see. I hope to get there someday…..

  • Reply Jayne July 31, 2015 at 8:10 am

    I’m not sure how I would respond to that kind of rudeness, especially when I shared something that had my heart & soul put in to it. Your answer Stephanie, is perfect. My gut reaction would be to delete, delete, delete…however I would think twice about it after reading this!

  • Reply Louise July 31, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I love your idea to answer questions and this topic is one I’m particularly interested in. I don’t blog, but I’m fascinated (and a little disturbed) by the way mob mentality can take over on social media. Negative comments can beget negative comments. The reverse is also true. I think your advice is right on the mark. Thanks for sharing your psychological expertise in this context.

  • Reply jifisher July 31, 2015 at 11:10 am

    People can be really disappointing sometimes. I think your response is perfect. A public, classy reply says lots about the maker AND the commenter.

  • Reply Rochelle July 31, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for addressing this issue. Too many times, commenters jump in with a smart aleck remark and represent themselves as an expert. As an individual, I have to remind myself over and over that not everyone has the same tastes I do. If I cannot comment with a positive, I try not to comment at all. Many times, I have had to revisit a site to see if my opinion on the matter (design, photo, etc.) has changed. First impressions are not always the best.

  • Reply akleczyn July 31, 2015 at 11:25 am

    There’s a difference between honesty and word vomit. This, my friend, is word vomit, and no one needs to see that. I say mop it up and throw it out!

    My policy on critical comments – constructive ones stay, ones that tear down (for no good reason) go. The latter kind of comments do nothing of value. They benefit no one, aside from perhaps a mean-spirited onlooker.

    Comments that point out errors in a pattern should stay up, and be responded to publicly, for the benefit of all.

    Lastly, I view my online locations as akin to small extensions of my home and/or business. If you leave a nice note taped to my door, I’ll love you! If you leave a note giving me advice or constructive criticism, I’ll read it, and decide what comments I feel the need to respond to (either with words or changes in what I’m doing), and which ones I’m simply going to let go or take with a grain of salt. But if you graffiti nasty insults and names on my door, well, I’m painting over that shit. I wouldn’t leave it up.

    Great post, Stephanie. Definitely a topic that needs to be addressed!

  • Reply Serena @ Sewgiving July 31, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    It’s a shame that people feel the need to critique in a negative way. It takes courage to put yourself and your work out there … I’d love to see more people giving kudos to that. It was lovely to read your measured point of view and I hope your friend (and others reading this post – like me) get much benefit for doing so 🙂

  • Reply farmhousequilter July 31, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Sounds like a great new venture Stephanie!

  • Reply Carie August 1, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I think that’s a great response, and if you put your own positive confident comment in that could be a reality check to the people who have forgotten that there is a person behind the pattern!

  • Reply Clara Dene August 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I have made the choice to be positive, not to get stuck. My choice is to keep moving forward. If anyone doesn’t like my work, it really doesn’t have anything to do with me. Years ago I read, “What You Think of Me is None of My Business”. With the click of a mouse, negative comments would be gone, never to be thought of again. Onward.

    BTW, I purchased “A Prayer for Owen Meany” after reading your blog. Whew! That was a read. (I did a little research on author, John Irving. John’s life is a book in itself).

    Stephanie, thank you for sharing your training and knowledge.

  • Reply Joanne L Czeiszperger August 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I have a problem trying to make friends in the quilting world . I have joined many quilt groups many of them all have there own little click. I am 79 yrs old my husband retired from the Army so we moved very often. We came back to our home state. I am a professional seamstress taught porcelean doll making for 10 yrs sculpted 5 original dolls designed my own costumes in fact was commissioned by Hamilton collection and sculpted a doll for them. I had a mentor growing up and she taught me how to make custom slip covers and draperies when I was 15 yrs old and still make them only for family. I have a long arm machine and love to quilt would love to get a call from someone and say hey would you like to go quilt shop hopping maybe someday that will happen.

  • Reply Laney August 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I love this idea for a regular feature on your blog. Excellent advice on this question! I say bravo to anyone who is brave enough to put themselves and their work out there.

  • Reply jmnaatz August 2, 2015 at 7:25 am

    You’re doing a great job with your blog. I enjoy it. Kudos to someone who still has the desire to accomplish ANYTHING at 9 p.m. at night after the day you must put in. I look forward to your postings.

  • Reply Helen August 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    This was interesting, it’s good to be outside the box but still hurtful I’d someone is cruel . Sometimes they don’t mean to be cruel , just are a bit tactless and sometimes people are just downright mean . There’s also a whole new etiquette to be learned here

  • Reply cheryljbrickey August 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Great post and some really great discussion points in the comments. I look forward to Dear Stephanie becoming a regular feature.

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