Saturday, February 12, 2011 in I Forgot To Pick A Category

Fear of quilting

So, recently I have figured out some interesting things about the process of quilting. Yes, you’re thinking I have made a lot of quilts, but I want to make a distinction that I have made a lot of quilts *tops*. Now that I have this big pile, I seemed to have stalled at this point.

I noticed the same thing in sewing clothing. I once made Ron a dress shirt in three days. Collar, yoke, placket front, flat felled seams and triangle sleeve plackets. Three! Days!

And it took me two weeks to sew the buttonholes & buttons on.

Hmm, why is that? Well, in the case of shirts, I really dislike sewing buttons on. Especially a long line of them. And making the buttonholes – I have just realized why I always hesitated on them and why I hesitate on the quilting part of quilting.

See, the actual quilt tops I have finished all the way to completion is 5. Four, if you consider I got someone else to do the quilting on our nap quilt. Three, if you discount the quilting I did on Meaghan green & purple quilt.

So. I have sat here looking at my pile of quilt tops and basted quilts ready to go and wondered why I hardly did any sewing this week. part of it is a space issue. One of the waiting quilts is a fair sized – nap or twin, easy. The thought of wrestling it under my machine and knocking off everything else on my table is not something I have looked forward to. Especially on those days where I am cooking supper and waiting for the timer. Ten minutes? While I can sew a fair number of seams in ten minutes, when I get to the actual quilting part, ten minutes means I have the foot changed and the fabric smushed under and figured out where to start. And doing a line of stitching halfway down the quilt and stopping – leaving it in the machine – just seems wrong.

What if someone walks by and it pulls? What if I want to sew something else instead of continue? What if I screw it up?

Ahhhhh… here we get to the crux of the matter.

Every so often, I think of the term ‘perfectionist’ and how it applies to me. It can in some ways, and in others it does not. There are plenty of areas where close is good enough. I can fudge a few seams and not worry too much about it. At least not enough to rip it out and do it over and over if needed.

But, like placing buttonholes on the front of a shirt for everyone to see, the process of quilting those lines and shapes across the front of the final piece is permanent. It is one of those things that is not only painfully visible, but painful to unpick. In a word, if you screw up, you really screw it up.

And dang it, I wish I had an image of that Far Side cartoon, the one that says “Ray screw up” He’s in an orchestra with only one cymbal. That’s what I think about.

Lest we end on that note (I got distracted searching for the cartoon) I decided a shift in my thinking was needed, and now I look at it this way: every quilt in the pile is *practice*. And if it’s not good enough to my liking, I can just finish it off, give it away, and make another one.


About andrea

City kid turned country wife, obsessive crafter.


  1. Right. Practice. This is an excellent approach.

    It’s a bit like me and my design paralysis. Deciding to just mess with colours and experiment led to a finished twin quilt in what, a couple of weeks?

    After all, this is a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. So maybe the trick is to find the fun part.

    And to remember that whatever money we spent on the fabric and materials gave us x hours of entertainment.

    It is too easy to compare the materials + labour to what we would have paid for an equivalent object (a quilt, a blanket …) and think that for that price, it should be “perfect”. Much better to compare it to how much it would have cost to go to the movies for that many hours. And then realize that not only did we get that many hours entertainment but we also get this lasting piece of art that keeps us warm.

    • Well, considering I didn’t even buy the fabric or it was really cheap, I can’t always use that as an excuse. 😀 Sometimes I start to think of it as time wasted if it doesn’t work out the way I wanted it to, or ow I pictured it, but yeah. working on it.

  2. I feel your pain on this. I have probably 6 completed quilt tops (I was given 2), a few even basted, that I have yet to finish. It’s the quilting that I am not looking forward to. One will take me no time, but the other 5 are twin size or larger, and I will be quilting them on my domestic sewing machine (DSM). Ugh. I’m wrestling with one tonight, actually, knocking everything off my sewing table in the process. But it will be DONE soon.

  3. Every thing handmade has a mistake in it somewhere, that’s what makes it unique. Even your grandmother made mistakes!

Speak Your Mind