keep at it, you will succeed- Part Two

(part one HERE)

one of the comments left on my first perseverance post asked simply:

“Isn’t it difficult to force yourself to live with less-than-perfection?”

my answer is no. i never looked at it as ‘less that perfect’. I saw it as part of my learning curve and looked forward to growing it into my own style. it’a as good as I am right at that particular moment, not some fantasy moment in the future. Aspiring to perfection right out of the gate would not be fair to myself. the frustration and disappointment would make me my own worst enemy. I would never have anything to aspire to and would never allow myself to make mistakes and use them to grow and become better.

when I first started LAing, I ‘looked up’ to Karen mctavish. I envied her success and talent. i drooled over the pictures of her quilts. i wanted to quilt feathers just like hers. she had years worth of a head start on me to practice and hone her skills, I knew I could quilt like that, but I had to master the mundane everyday motifs first. I couldn’t quilt ribbon worthy feathers, but by golly, I would quilt the darndest prettiest meander you ever laid eyes on. then I got brave (who-hoo) and tried a loop meander, then swirls, then whirls. all that time I felt more and more comfortable with the machine. I started to feel like the preverbal duck to water. After all, I had people paying for my quilting, so it couldn’t be all that bad, right?

I went to a quilt show where a lady was demo quilting on a long arm. she made it look so easy! moving from one design to another so effortlessly. I was excited to get home and pin on some muslin and try quilting like that too! my excitement was a bit misleading as it wasn’t as easy as she made it look. i took a breath and told myself, “not right now, but soon.” I doodled on anything that would sit still long enough. feathers filled every empty space on scratch notes…I grabbed a dry erase board and drew the same design over and over and over until I could do it in my sleep. that was my ticket- perseverance.

don’t get me wrong- that little black rain cloud voice got to me. “you can’t do that” “oh, what were you thinking” “that’s ugly” “that doesn’t look like So and So’s quilting” I would doubt myself and doubt my abilities, but I would look at my first practice pieces with the squared top loops and half-inch long stitches and realize that I was growing and getting better, and I would be happily quilting along again. just like in life- the ‘ugly’ beginning is needed to make the glorious part easier and fun. ‘less than perfect’ is just the first step in a long journey to ‘close to perfect’ my quilting shouldn’t look like anybody else’s quilting but mine.

remember, that anything worth doing is worth doing badly for as long as it takes. it is just fabric and thread- they make more of it everyday! if it really that bad, there’s always frogging. (rip it, rip it, rip it) if you’re like me, you have a room full of fabric! stop beating yourself up for ‘less than perfection’ stop comparing yourself to others. quilters are their own worst enemies…there are no ‘rules’ it’s not wrong if it makes sense or looks good to you. not to sound snarky- I do not quilt for others, I quilt for me. I see a quilt and immediately have a ‘vision’ of where I want to take the quilting….

quilting, like art, is subjective. put 50 quilters in a room with one quilt and you will get 50 different reactions to it. so are you going to pout in a corner because 50 people didn’t agree with your vision? or will you shrug your shoulders and move on because you are happy with your quilt? I went to school for art and the most difficult part was the critique days. I HATED them. everyone in a room pointing out what was wrong with your work. such a harsh and fierce environment for an aspiring artist. i always made a point of discussing my classmates’ growth in a certain area: how well they were expressing the subject or how they were seeming to grasp the medium…I tried to give some positive reinforcement…we all need an ‘atta boy’ every once in a while, even if we only give it to ourselves. nobody wants someone to point out all our mistakes, so why do we so easily do it to ourselves? my favorite motto is from one of my favorite artists, Bob Ross. “there are no mistakes, only happy accidents” I think that an artist's most difficult job is recognizing their own voice/style and being comfortable with it.


  1. Great post! I like to tell students to think of it as a child first learning to write their name. It never looks readable but you know that eventually with practice it will look great! Why do we berate our beginning quilting stitches so much?

  2. Excellent! Every beginning quilter should read this.

  3. Well, thank you. You gave me hope. I am not an artist but I do want to do more in the quilting dept. So thank you. This is great.

  4. Wonderfully put and so true. I may make all my beginning quilmaking students read it. I love the Bob Ross quote. Another great one is from Alex Anderson on Simply Quilts "If you do it once it's a mistake.. do it 3 more times and it's a design decision"

  5. Love this post! I struggle w/ trying to be a perfectionist and it only hurts me! I talk to myself all of the time about just doing the best I can and before long I won't believe how far I've come. Thank you for sharing where you have been!


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