Feb 25, 2012

Those Three Little Words.....

I love so many things about quilting.  I love shopping for fabric! I mean, I LOVE shopping for fabric.  I love buying and reading quilt books and patterns and magazines. I love planning out my next quilt~picking the pattern and selecting the fabrics.  I love cutting all the pieces and stacking them, ready for stitching. I love making each block and adding it to my design wall and seeing the quilt evolve from my mind's eye to fruition.  Sewing all the blocks into rows, adding sashing and borders and finally having a finished top~it is all so satisfying to me.  The hum of my sewing machine as I feed the fabric through is as soothing to my soul as my yoga classes are.  

Then all the fun comes to a screeching halt!! And I read those three little words that are at the end of every pattern~quilt as desired! I feel a cold shiver creeping up my spine.  Quilt as desired?  What if I have no desire?  What if what I desire is going to look horrible? What if I ruin my beautiful quilt top?  Oh, I hate those three little words!

I have heard that some quilt tops actually "speak" to their owners. Women will say that this quilt just cried out to be quilted in a Baptist Fan pattern or that this quilt just says "feathers in the border".  My quilts have never said a word to me! They just lay there mocking me. They don't speak~but I swear I have heard them laughing at me. 

This is the reason that I have over a dozen quilt tops hanging in my closet.  I visit them there every now and then and still none of them has said a word to me~not even, "Hey, it's dark in here. When are you ever going to finish me?" I have come to the conclusion that I am fooling myself when I say I am a quilter.  I think I should just tell people that I am a "piecer".  

I refuse to be beaten, so, I have challenged myself.  First I bought a LOT of books on quilting.  I mean the kind of books that discuss the mechanics of machine quilting-pulling your bobbin thread to the top when you begin, taking several stitches in place to make a knot, meandering vs. stippling.  Next I moved to books that have patterns in them.  They show you how to quilt in a continuous pattern in your blocks or border.  I have watched videos online where you take clear vinyl and place it on your top and draw the pattern you want to quilt on it. You can audition lots of patterns that way and decide what will showcase your quilt. I even bought a spiral notebook to doodle and "train my brain". All of this and still I can't do it! I know what I am supposed to do-I just can't do it! It's a mental thing. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I purchased a sit-down long arm machine. If I am going to be a serious quilter I have to have the right equipment, right?  Maybe my whole problem is trying to get that big quilt sandwich under my regular machine.  Ha! Still no luck.  Every time I sit down to quilt I get a huge pit (think Grand Canyon) in my stomach and I think to myself "here goes the ruination of a perfectly good quilt top".  

I am not trying to quilt a quilt that will win a ribbon at Houston or Paducah quilt shows.  I know that practice makes perfect and so I have decided that I need to not be so hard on myself.  I have to remember that the quilts I am making are for my family and friends and that they love them, imperfections and all. They don't care if all of my stitches are the same length or if I quilted myself into a corner and could not get out without crossing over another line of stitching. They just see all the time and love I put into making that quilt for them. They feel the quilted hugs I have for them every time they cuddle up with it and maybe they wrap it just a little tighter. After all, isn't that what quilting is all about? 


  1. I loved reading your blog. I totally understand your feelings. I guess I tend to do more hand quilting; for fear of ruining a quilt top by quilting by machine. By hand I feel more in control. But, I have quilted by machine (just a regular sewing machine, not a long arm)and I haven't ruined anything yet. Besides almost anything can be fixed. lol I never know how I will go about doing the quilting; until I have it all layed out and basted together. I just try putting different stencils down and see how they fit. One usually fits better than the rest; so that makes my choice for me. I do feel like my quilts talk to me. I bet yours talk to you too; you just need to relax. There are no rules; no right way or wrong way. That is why I like quilting more than any other craft. You don't have to start at "1" and go step by step. I just have fun! Hope this makes you feel better. Take those tops out and quilt. I look back and see how I have improved over time. It gets easier with each quilt.

    1. PPQ-Thanks for your words of encouragement. I am trying to relax and enjoy the process more. I have arthritis in my hands which prevents me from hand quilting, so it's machine or nothing at my house. Investing in stencils and books has helped me with ideas for quilting patterns and I am honestly listening to my quilts to see if they have anything to say. :)