I’m no expert (we’ve established that), and I’m certainly not a perfectionist.
Okay, well, I am a little obsessive/compulsive about some things, but I don’t set my standards so high that I can’t accomplish anything. Quilting is one of those hobbies that people can enjoy at their own level. Some quilters do such exquisite work that they earn purple “best of show” ribbons wherever they are displayed; I mean, museum quality pieces. Their hand stitching is perfect (16 stitches per inch!), their I was at a quilt show recently where they actually had an “ugly quilt” category. Now that’s a confidence builder!points meet exactly and their colors are so pure and blend so beautifully that you think you’re looking at a photograph or painting. I truly admire that kind of work but it is mostly intimidating. I could say to myself, “I might as well give up quilting if I have to compete with that!” But then I see the amateur quilters’ work: not-so-perfect stitches, a few visible puckers and corners cut off, colors that really don’t go well together or the contrast between lights and darks is not strong enough and you kind of lose the design. You know what I mean? Then I say to myself, “that looks like some of MY first quilts!” You’ve probably seen some like that. I was at a quilt show recently where they actually had an “ugly quilt” category. Now that’s a confidence builder! Honestly, most of them were NOT ugly (well, maybe a couple), but I think that’s a matter of opinion. I started out that way.
I’ve been quilting long enough that I’ve learned some lessons along the way.
I’m still just an ordinary quilter, though. I don’t have a degree in art or graphic design or textiles. I don’t have a TV show nor have I written a book.I always say, “if you couldn’t notice it from a galloping horse, it’s probably fine”. Strive for perfection but settle for “good enough”. Many times I’ve had to rip out a seam that doesn’t come together well but often I have left it as is. I always say, “if you couldn’t notice it from a galloping horse, it’s probably fine”. Someone in my small group of quilters (the QTs) came up with that one and it kind of became my motto. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one will notice or care (except you).
The early Amish quilters were said to have made an intentional mistake in all their quilts because “only God is perfect”. That works for me. I still strive for perfection, but I don’t ever have to make a mistake intentionally. It just happens naturally. The last quilt I made taught me a great lesson. I was sewing along nicely and I realized when I was close to finishing that I had not had to rip out a single seam. That was a first. I became a little excited, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I would finish a quilt without making a single mistake! No ripping at all. Well, you probably have already guessed that my joy was short lived because almost as soon as the thought entered my head I looked down and realized that I had sewn a piece on backwards. The wrong side of the fabric was facing up. Aaaghhh!! No way!! Are you kidding?!! I can’t believe this!!
Yup. I have actually USED the wrong side of the fabric!
Let it be said that I am so NOT a perfectionist that I have actually USED the wrong side of the fabric (because I sewed it on backwards) and I was too lazy to rip it out! Have you done that? Well, needless to say, I grabbed the seam ripper and “hmmphed” my way through the correction. It would have been a very noticeable mistake…even from a galloping horse. So my streak still stands. Not once have I made a quilt with no mistakes. My quilts may never be in a museum or used in a “how to” book, or win “best of show” but they make me happy. They are a reflection of me, not quite perfect. It’s a sense of accomplishment. And finished is ALWAYS better than perfect.
If you’d like to receive a gentle reminder when a new blog is posted, I would be more than grateful if you signed up for my Quil-Tips newsletter. I will include a link to the latest blog there and tips and shortcuts I’ve learned along the way that have helped me in my quilting career. And, as always, I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below and share with me your quilting experiences.