Saturday, November 06, 2010

a process post

I took this quilt to my craft group with the intentions of starting to rip out the stitching. Unquilting this was going to be my winter project. I'm not feeling the quilting. I like the approach, the execution isn't all that fabulous. There is a little bubble in the back and the quilting on some of the circles is wobbly. The quilted circle shown is one of the better ones. Although, if I would rip out the stitching and try to quilt them over, I'm not sure that my results will be that much better. Quilting circles freehand is HARD!

The ladies in my group this morning convinced me that I should leave the quilting as is and finish it up. The quilt police aren't going to get me.

But this begs the question, where is that line between perfectionism (mine is in fine form these days) and lazy/shoddy work? I've heard the phrase "if you can't see the mistake 10 feet away from a galloping horse, leave it." That phrase irritates me, to tell you the truth. I want my quilts to be well made, and while they won't be perfect, I do want to do my best. On the flip side, I also want to finish my quilts! In order to do that, I need to let some of those things go. But finding that happy medium, now that's a trick.

126 comments:

Anita said...

Me feeling is, if it is going to bug me most times I look at the finished project, then I need to change it. If I can live with it, then I leave it. I'll bet it is hard to free hand a spiral quilted circle.

Carol said...

I think the quilting looks good. I agree that is a very strange saying. I too like to have s nicely finished project.

Becky said...

I agree with the first poster about it bugging me. I think those spirals look fantastic. I can't believe you did those freehand. I would have tried to walking foot them and would have been cursing trying to shove the quilt through the machine!

Wendy said...

I only change what I feel like I'll regret enough that I don't use/show/post the finished project. And often I'll set it down for a few weeks to decide if it still bothers me after getting some distance.

Rebecka said...

I'm a perfectionist also. And I have never understood the galloping horse thing, either. For me, if I can see the problem standing about 5 feet away, it needs to be fixed. And by seeing the problem, I mean I try to look at the quilt with "fresh" eyes and look carefully to decide if the area "pops" as a problem. It's hard, because my eyes want to just jump right to the messy spot. But I stand back and try my best to see it as a whole.
It also depends on who the quilt is for. Personal use, I give myself more leeway. A gift must be as close to perfect as I can get it.
Sigh...I don't think I was much help!

DD Lindsey said...

I'm fighting the same thing! My problem is, the quilt I'm working on is a gift for a baby who is already 2 mths old. I absolutely HATE what I've done so far, but I don't have the TIME to rip it all out and start over. Plus, I have too many other projects with Christmas deadlines. This is testing my perfectionistic tendencies. I also don't agree w/the "if you can't see it from the moon" mentality. I don't ever want anyone to say about one of my quilts, "well, it looks good from a distance."
It's so good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with these thoughts. When you find the "happy medium" please share it with the rest of us!
And just for the record, I know you said this is one of the "good" blocks, but the quilting looks quite good...and I'm not on a horse ;)

Matt & Mary said...

Don't doubt yourself- you are so talented! This is actually one of my favorite quilts- I love the circle quilting. Keep with it!

amymcgrady said...

I am a perfectionist as well. I am my own worst critic. That said, I do not personally, in real life, know another quilter. When my friends and family see my quilts, they do not see the mistakes that my eyes are automatically pulled towards. They just see a beautiful finished piece. And I love that quilt up there. It's beautiful and I love the wonky quilting. It gives it character. Let it be and finish it =)It looks perfect to me, a fellow quilter.

pdudgeon said...

by the time you wash that quilt, the mistakes you see now aren't going to be noticeable at all.

Margaret @ Konstant Kaos said...

I'm never 100% happy with the quilts I make, but yes, at one point you have to admit that part of the handmade charm is the imperfections that are in the quilt. So long as it is not going to fall apart in the wash, it should be good. BTW I love the way the green circle quilt has turned out.

Wendy said...

These things are the BEAUTY of handmade! Really! I adore my grandmothers quilts knowing she worked over them with love and sometimes there is a wee booboo that makes her human. Let go and enjoy the beauty of a quilt you just made. I love it. Very inspiring to those of us who read blogs. You are amazing!

traceyjay said...

I borrowed that phrase from my Great Aunt Mary (she said it to me when I was really upset about how something turned out)...

I think it's good to pull out when you need it.

It's all a learning experience I think. You do the "better" circles on the next one.

Besides, when you wash it, that'll help. Unless the quilt is destined for a show or something... I say keep going. :)

Magnolia Bay Quilts said...

If it bothers me, I fix it. If not, it stays in and I move on to the next project and try to do a better job. For what it's worth, though, I think your quilting looks really nice.

Caroline said...

After ripping out quilting on one of my quilts because I decided it just wasn't quite right (for the second time, mind you), my husband told me to leave the quirks. He said it added character, and those quirks could be the receiver's favorite parts. So now I don't sweat the little stuff. And sometimes you have to see the finished product to know if it will really work. You do such a great job with everything, and all of your quilts are so gorgeous, I don't see how or why you'd doubt yourself!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a demo on the Drunkers path block. i think your quiltting looks pretty darn good to me.Wig.

jessica said...

Once I started making my own clothes, I realized there are some things that bug the heck out of you just as you finish the project, but if you wear the item 3 or 4 times you realize you can't be bothered to go back and fix it, but would rather get on with life [and of course, those things that STILL bug you most definitely need to be fixed!]. I'd imagine it works similarly with quilts? Use it for awhile and see if "benign imperfection" doesn't grown on you?

Amanda said...

I think one of the things I like most about quilting is that the lines aren't exactly perfect. This holds true also for other crafting or anything handmade. In this age of computer-driven machines, "perfect" often means mass-produced. And I don't mean longarm quilting, I mean mass produced quilts of the type purchased in stores. Do they have perfect circles? Yes, but they're also not hand made.

When I find myself getting frustrated, especially if it's a technique new to me (and I use at least one new technique each time I make a quilt), I think of the Arabic textile produces of the Middle Ages, being an ex-practicing-archaeologist (if you ever get a chance to see their work in museums, it's worth a trip). They would deliberately turn a few stitches the wrong way, because in their eyes, the only perfect thing was Allah. I am not religious, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Long story short, I would leave the circles, since to me that shows it's made by a living, breathing, human being. And this is a lovely quilt.

Vicki said...

The circle quilting looks great! Did you mark it before quilting it? This is the kind of thing I often just avoid; I chose a different quilting design in my recent circle quilt that in my mind, at least, was easier than quilting a smooth circular spiral. I learned a new quilting design, but you learned a new and more difficult design.

I am trying to think of how I want to quilt my 9-patch quilt from your quiltalong... I want to challenge myself but not make it too difficult.

For me, sometimes I will feel strongly about fixing a mistake, sometimes it is ok to leave it. It can be hard to know if you're being too perfectionist, especially if things are kind of middle ground and might be ok if left.

Lisa said...

I am all for leaving it, finishing it up and chalking it up to practice! Onward to new projects!

Lisa said...

I agree that you want it to look like a human being did the quilting and not a machine. I've always thought that the little quirkiness makes it unique. Someone told me once, "Done is better than perfect." That's how I feel about alot of my quilting!

Michele said...

It is hard for me not to rip it out if I don't think it is perfect. I really struggle with that in my quilting. I have trouble with perfectionism in my fabric selections as well. I think your circles look great! I have to say, after a while, I don't even remember why I was worried about a problem, even if I choose not to take it out. I try to think of that when I consider ripping something out. But it does not always work!

Anonymous said...

The comments above say it all. You are only human. Are you trying to make the quilting so perfect that it doesn't look handmade (makes me think of the lovely models in magazines that we all want to look like who don't actually look like that either, they are digitally enhanced).

With my own first quilt I was very hard on myself but then I decided that I needed to congratulate myself (who tackles scollops first go?). Now when I look at it I can see how well I did [for a beginner] and how far I have come.

Remember YOU are not a machine!

Birdie

Karin said...

I absolutely LOVE your quilt and I think you should leave it as is. I am also never 100% happy with any quilt I make, but who is? The minor imperfections just prove it's handmade and none of us are perfect :) Plus, once it's washed and gets krinkly, you can't see the imperfections anyhow :)

kelly lautenbach said...

I'm betting when you wash this quilt you'll think it's just fine. :) Perfection is over-rated... but shoddy work is too often embraced too. In the end you have to do what will make you ok with it!

Pam said...

History tells that when the Persians were making their beautiful rugs that they would make an error on purpose so that they could be differntiated from those machine generated. I have just started quilting and struggle with the look because I don't seem to have the control I want. But I have noticed that when they are bound and washed they are beautiful. All this to say: I think you should finish it.

Amy said...

I am a perfectionist too. Post some more pics of the shoddy spots and I'll give you an honest thought on the matter. I am neverr happy unless my completed projects are at least 95% perfect! I give myself a little leeway :)The 5% is usually things only I notice.

Shawn said...

It looks great to me Amanda and I always believe part of being handmade is not being perfect. It's all about the enjoyment you get from quilting and as my Mom used to say "It's not a contest". Don't be so hard on yourself ~~ have fun!!

Terriaw said...

Sounds like you are being too hard on yourself! I doubt you were lazy in quilting this quilt. You did it freehand, but not shoddy. I think the circles in that circle look fabulous. I am happy to hear your quilt group convinced to you leave the quilting in and keep going. Once you wash and dry this, that crinkly look and feel might help you appreciate all the hard work you put into this project.

Terriaw said...

forget to mention - I can preach, but I certainly know how it feels to be overly critical of my own work! Keep you chin up, my friend!

Nanci said...

I think it's beautiful and agree the next time you do it it will be better but we will never achieve perfection so sometimes you just have to cut yourself a little slack. Unless you are putting it in a show I think it's fine and years from now when you have perfected the circle quilting I think you'll look back at it with fond memories.

QuiltyGirl said...

I'm right there with ya. Quilting is tough! And just today I sold my quilting machine (no room when we move, and I have outgrown it's potential). I'm very nervous to relearn how to quilt on a regular old machine.
I think your quilting loves wonderful, even from very close up. I would definitely tell you to leave it. And hey, a few little back puckers will become invisible after you wash that baby! :)

Emily {Creative Chicks} said...

I've seen stuff hanging in my local QS that looks awesome from afar, but if I was to look a foot away I could see plenty of flaws.

I think you should see if when you are done the quilted circles still bug you. Could it be just one that is "bad" that needs fixing? If they are all "not perfect" but look similar then I think it would look fine. I'm thinking if it all looks like "wonky" quilting or something like that then no one would call it crappy quilting.

BTW--I think it looks fine. No one else would probably even notice it's not perfectly perfect. You do great work...

williamsj9 said...

I think every quilt brings a chance to learn and more experience. I, personally, do not get caught up in perfectionism but appreciate each project for what it is. I think quilters really need to keep their ego in check when critizing their finished work. My first impression of your quilt is it looks wonderful. Quilts that are too perfect are like living rooms that were not meant to be used. That really bugs me when you don't feel like you can sit on the couch for fear of messing something up. So just enjoy what you do and continue to improve on what you know. No one is perfect and that perfectly OK!!

Nichole said...

I agree with you about wanting to make quality things that we feel represent our best efforts. however, I do feel that we can also be our own worst critics and get bogged down in perfectionism without getting things finished!

I know exactly how you feel about those spiraling circles - I tried the same FMQ design over some log cabins on a quilt once and they turned out hideous and wobbly. Even after washing I do not like it and always wish I would have had the patience to rip out the quilting. So, there you go. No real advice, but I do love that you posted a process post and show the real life side and dilemmas of quilting.

Tiffany said...

I think this quilt is GORGEOUS and I think the small wonky areas give a quilt its hand-made personality sometimes. If you dont like it tho, I would be happy to give it a loving home here in Delaware ;)

Lanette said...

Don't unpick it. It is beautiful the way that it is.

EmilyP said...

To answer your question: only God can make anything that is perfect. If you look at some antique or vintage quilts, you will see a "mistake". Chances are it's not accidental. (Ex - butterfly quilts where one butterly is flying in the opposite direction.) I'm not saying that if something is truly bothering you to NOT fix it. You have to live with it. If it was a gift, maybe I'd fix it. If it was a quilt for my home, I would just be happy to get some stitches in and binding on.

Anonymous said...

When I look at this block, the word shoddy doesn't enter my mind at all! Granted, I only see one block, but I think this looks really good!
Jeri Cleveland

Marsha said...

If my free motion quilting looked like this, I would be thrilled! Finish the quilt and move on to your next adventure.

Karen said...

Amandajean, from what I see of your quilt, it looks wonderful. So far, I have not mastered free motion quilting and have been unable to hand quilt as before due to my aging hands. So, I have taken up machine quilting straight lines and some machine embroidery. Sometimes, I want to kick myself as I agonize about the quilt being PERFECT, especially if it is a gift for someone else. I'm sure you understand what I mean.

What I'm trying to say is that I think you are being too self critical of your quilting.

Know what? I've found that after my "terrible quilts" are great after they are washed and dried! So, lately, I've been telling myself to go easy on ME!

Hope you will do the same! You really DO such great quilting....enjoy it!

Hugs, Karen

soggybottomflats said...

I feel your pain with the quilting, but I will need to agree with your group, leave it alone and finish it up. Then, move on. Otherwise you may well find yourself in a self imposed OCD hell, ripping the quilting out of other quilts. You really won't get anything done. Love the process, but go to something new, and learn from your prior quilts. I think you're awesome anyway. Elaine

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

It's beautiful - quilt and quilting.

nettie said...

i agree with you, quilting circles is so hard!

my approach is that I never redo, I just don't--except when the integrity of the quilt is at risk. I don't want my quilt to fall apart. I try to look at a quilt as a quilt, I realize it is also art, but I would much rather it be loved and used. if a pucker or a less than perfect quilt job isn't going to affect it in use, I just don't worry about it.

it's hard though, sometimes it does bother me when I see a mess up, and even if it doesn't bother anyone else it still bugs me.

I like what you have done with this one. It's different, and it looks like those circles are really going to stand out.

Amy said...

Everyone has their theory on perfectionism. My take - if it bothers me, then I usually fix it. Maybe I'm a little obsessive but I can't enjoy the finished product if it bugs me. I do make mistakes that I feel I can live with and those get to stay.

carol said...

Here's an idea....give the darn thing away and then you won't see your "not up to standard quilting", and someone else will be thrilled at the beautiful job you did on it. See....kill two birds with one stone! Bingo...solved!

Melissa said...

Your free motion circle is beautiful! I love that it isn't "perfect". If it was you might think it was made by a machine. I aspire to quilt so well some day.

As far as ripping, I make sure I've given myself a little distance and perspective before I start. Trying to be perfect can sometimes be more of a problem than a good thing. You were wise to show your quilt to friends and get advice.

Anonymous said...

Leave it!!!! Enough said.
It's gorgeous.
Brenda C.

Kendra said...

I just spent three month (here and there of course!) picking out the circles I did freehand on a quilt for my son. I so understand. They actually looked great on the top, but on the bottom there were puckers EVERYWHERE. No way I was leaving it. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, if it's going to bother you for the rest of time, pick it out! If you can get over it with time then just move on. I personally love the quilting from the pictures.

Texana said...

Is it a utility quilt or an heirloom that you want to last for generations as a symbol of your fine workmanship? Are you going to enter it in a show, a juried show? Will your guild make fun of you for having a few puckers or stitches that are less than perfect?

Consider these questions and then decide if your time is better spent ripping this quilt, or making more quilts, finishing UFO's and having fun.

Good luck...btw, I think it looks fabulous just the way it is.

LesQuilts said...

Hi!
I tried to quilt circles too, it is hard, I wasn't happy with the results.
so, I have a suggestion.
why don't you stipple quilt the cirlces and echo quilt between the circles. I was told a while ago, to make contrast with your quilting. If there was lots of straight lines, do curves. if lots of curvers, try straight lines or grid quilting, etc. then the hard angles of the stitching are softened and/or the soft angles were made more formal. I think the design aspect of the opposition of square to circle and the soft colours is what makes the quilt. So, if you quilt it as I suggest, the quilting further illustrates the contrasting design, but the quilting won't show, the design will.
Also, I suggest making a template of some kind, I have used paper with a drawing, so you can follow it, like the arches in the square sections to echo the shape of the circles. You could decide on a final layout and photocopy for as many sections you have.
Good luck, sorry you have to take out all that thread!
Take care, Leslie

Sandy said...

I am a fellow perfectionist. I want my projects to be perfect too. Unfortunately, I have reach the point where it is interfering with my ability to get moving. If you can live with this mistake, I would guess that you have lots of other projects that you would rather spend your winter completing. You said this was a practice quilt at first anyway, right?

Good luck! I know you will make the right choice for you!

Marci said...

Dear Amandajean,
My vote is leave the quilt. While it disappoints you, it would thrill others. I well understand your desire to do your best, but remember you are human AND humans are not perfect. Let it be an encouragement to you when you do another one--better than this one, of your increased ability. I love the parts you've shown--wobbles and all. It looks great! Move on to something new and be encouraged that you have time to quilt. Love the blog!
Marci

jess said...

I put them away until I don't feel pressured or rushed, then I finish them... if I don't, I'm always disappointed in how I compromise my work for time, and I get all these bunchy bits in the back...
Honestly, your quilt is really nice though... maybe you should reconsider WHY you think it isn't perfect. :D

Peggy said...

A very good question and one I have been asking myself. What's important in a quilt -- the thought behind it, the colour story, the way it works together, the quality of the execution? In my mind, if you don't have the first three, the last one can't stand up on its own. But I argue against myself too, and say that if the workmanship is not so great, it affects the first three. I've made lots of imperfect quilts and I guess their purpose is to make me do better next time. And yes, I have ripped out the quilting on a whole quilt but have also sworn never to do it again! If you find that happy balance, be sure to let the rest of us know!

Liz Smith said...

First of all, the quilting looks marvelous! Second, I can wholeheartedly understand where you are coming from. I'm a type A perfectionist and have a hard time letting go of even the slightest mistake. I usually have to leave the room for 30 minutes and come back...if it still bothers me...I sleep on it...if it still bothers me...I have to fix it.

Naturally Carol said...

I think it depends what you want to do with the item. Giving it away to a charity eg homeless person or hospital...they would be more into how useful it is. For yourself...can you live with it. For someone you love or admire...get the unpicker out! What is the time worth?

Rachel said...

I agree with the sentiment of the saying but not the details. I think it should be more like "if you can't see it when it's in it's designated home without having to lean in and examine it closely, leave it". I.e. is it glaringly obvious or will only you notice it because you know it's there?

Cathy said...

I too am a perfectionist, but when it comes to freemotion quilting, I don't mind a few wobbles. I think it gives the overall quilt a special look...that it has been done with sweat and tears from someones hands and heart, rather than coming from a factory. I do an awful lot of swirly quilting and I think your circles are fantastic. They are set off beautifully by the stipple too. xo

diana said...

I'm more on the perfections side and i find the line quite hard to define too. Here's how I do it:

calculate the cost of fabrics [surface +10-20% (seam allowance and leftovers, depending on design)]and thread.

Put the medium wage/h and calculate my time for the quilt. Including time to think about the design, cutting, pieceing, basting, quilting.

Add another 16% that, in my country in the VAT.

And then i look at the quilt. Could I sell it for this? Would I buy it for this amount? It doesn't matter if it is for my bedroom or for sale. Would i buy it? And if so, would I e happy with what I got?

If -20% still doesn't make me happy, then definitly rip it. If not, well...then it's fine:)

Miss White Wall said...

I've found that most quilters I know have at least a mild case of OCD. So I tend to find someone who isn't a quilter to ask them the important questions. Quilters will always find your mistakes and will know how they happened, why and if it matters. Non-quilters will tell you if the rest of the world will care. If the answer comes back, that it looks great and they don't understand what the fuss is, leave it alone. If they notice it and ask if it should be like that, rip it out. Don't ever be afraid of creating something with flaws because that's how we learn. But also don't be content with obvious fixable issues because then you lose a little piece of who you are.

Thearica said...

If you asked a majority of quilters, they would tell you they love the freehand look in their quilting. Computerized machines are for perfectionism and none of my customers want me to upgrade to a computer.

I think your freehand quilting looks fantastic myself. But, if it bothers you a lot and you don't have a gazillion circles to pick out, take them out and go back in with circular quilting again but do it in wavy lines to compliment your stippling. Then if you are off here and there you will never notice.

Christie, Describe Happy said...

When I have a project that is bugging me I try to put it away for a few days or a week... then when I bring it back out I know in my gut whether I can keep it as is or not. From here that looks amazing!! The other perspective is that it ok to keep nit-picking as long as you are still having fun.

Anonymous said...

Think of it as being vintage!!! It's kind of like you try to get a scrappy quilt to have none of the same fabrics touch or be near each other and you flip and move a million times and you go to quilt it and you see that there are a few that seem to have magically moved...the only one who will notice is you and to you it stands out like a sore thumb, but to everyone else it is 'perfect'. The quilting looks great to me!!!
picabo

Jessica Christensen said...

It is SO hard to freehand a spiral circle. Mine do not look as good as yours. I figure the more I use this type of quilting, the steadier my hand will be. But then, I think my APATHY is at an all-time high because I have so many to finish. I'm with you -- I don't want to have shoddy work, but sometimes, imperfect quilts are all I'm capable of. I'll just keep trying and get better. You KNOW I have plenty of them to practice on. (I think your circle looks wonderful!)

Jessica Christensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dara said...

I hear you. I just unpicked about 25 hours of handstitching because I was not satisfied. I want to be proud of my work. It is my work and I want to feel satisfied. This quilt has been almost entirely hand pieced so I weighed out the time and effort factor and since I don't have a timeline for it, i can do it right and be pleased.

ktquilts said...

Sometime over the past year when I was frustrated with a project, my husband said, "I thought you were doing that for enjoyment?". It stuck with me. Now it is my measure. If mistake is stealing my joy, redo. If redoing is stealing my joy, I don't. Everyone differs in their level ov acceptable mistakes, but quilting should bring joy!

Blessings,

KT

Tara said...

We're our own worst critics, without doubt! I like the quilting and "organic" feel.

For me it's like spinning yarn. If I wanted perfection, I'd go to the store and buy it machine spun. There is no way I can achieve what a machine does, I can only hope it doesn't look too "homemade," and improve my skills in the process.

There's no way I'd be ripping out any stitches, but it's your time, lol.

Laritza said...

Perfection is the enemy of Excellence. You learned, it is beautiful, move on to more and better. The time you will spend redoing this one can be invested in making at least two more. It is beautiful as is.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think perfectly made quilts are boring. They don't have any character and aren't really any more interesting than a blanket I can go and buy at any department store that was made on some machine in a factory. As a side note, this is why I am not at all interested in quilt shows and find them boring.

I love the little quirks in a handmade quilt, such as wonky quilted circles! I helps me see that an actual person made it with his or her own hands and that the quilt is truly one of a kind.

Also, the fact is that most non-quilters would never, ever even realize that the quilt wasn't perfect -- regardless of whether they were on a galloping horse 5 meters away.

Sooz said...

For me, it's only "perfect" if I can see the human who made it in the work. Slightly wonky lines says "Joy!" to me. A little bubble here or there reminds me of those curious bumps on leaves or bark. Your quilt is alive! it is filled with the exquisite breath of your imagination and artistry.

Besides, as said a few times above, once it is washed and dried, all "mistakes" will fade from view and many will be clamoring to snuggle under it.

You are an inspiration.

Cheryl Arkison said...

It's kind of like a design being great when you step back, but how does it look when you are snuggling under it.

Once you wash it, any troubles with disappear. Because it will soften any wobbly bits and you will simply relax because it is done. Circles are impossible to quilt perfectly.

Esch House Quilts said...

I agree that we're looking for the happy medium between the galloping horse and perfect.

I also think some imperfections are part of the idea of handmade.

For myself, I usually end up redoing small sections of quilting that went more wrong than the rest. I might pick out six inches or so and do it again, pulling the threads to the back and burying them.

Teodo said...

I don't see any mistake in your quilt. Quilting freehand in circle is very difficult.
If there is any defect you'll be the only one knowing, but the beauty of the work will make you forget them quickly.
ciao ciao

Helen C. said...

First- I think with anything we can never get to perfection, because the more we know, the more we see how much we have to learn! (Would the mistakes in your quilt have bothered you as much in your first year of quilting? As a new freehand quilter, I think it is awesome)
I like the think about the purpose of my quilt. Is it for my hippie awesome laid-back friend who will find a few "mistakes" cool and organic and a way to prove it's homemade? Or is it for my mother-in-law who will show the one flaw to every person who walks in her door? :) It changes the level I hold myself to.

Robyn said...

In my former life I was an engineer. I learned there that whatever you're working on can ALWAYS be made better. No matter what, there is always room for improvement. But there is also "good enough". And though it's not the most inspiring way to describe a completed project, if we didn't have "good enough" we would never finish anything! And especially in quilting, where you are creating essentially functional art, much of the beauty is in the human imperfections. So "good enough" can be perfect! I think your circles look perfect!

Anonymous said...

I agree, freehand circles are challenging to get down. My circle experience was a big Europen pillow cham that I made. It was one of my earlier quilting projects. I traced around different sized plates and bowls for the circles after taking the stitching out several times. I still tore out stitches when I went of the line. I ended up going very slowly as I stitched my circles. Just recently, I have seen a device for my Bernina that will help me get perfect circles. I have it on my wish list.
I like what I see of your quilt. Will you be sharing a picture of the quilt when it is finished?
Janet

Colleen said...

I think you need to ask yourself why you need it to be perfect. Is this for a contest/challenge/person where perfection is required? If not then maybe your need for perfection on this beautiful quilt is overshadowing something else. I always tell my students that a mistake is a beautiful thing waiting to happen. I also tell them that if everything in the world was perfect the world would be a very boring place. I sometmes think our need for perfection comes from the overjudgemental society we are surrounded by. Celebrate you imperfections their what make you unique.

Wendy said...

I think one trick is to have a friend/relative who's *honest* with you. Ask him/her if she sees the "flaw(s)", and if he/she can't find it without *really* *really* close inspection, then...
Move on! It's All Good!
=-)

Sara said...

You nailed the frustration that all of us quilters feel sometimes and I am glad you did! We are not perfect and so imperfections can make a quilt sing!! Your quilt is like no other and that is what makes it special---BEAUTIFUL!!! WOW--I need to copy this response for myself maybe too-LOL!

Kay H said...

So true, we all struggle with this to some extent, I think. Some days I'm more forgiving than others and I also look at past work that I was not happy with and find that I'm much happier with the work than when I was in "perfection" mode. The quilt looks beautiful to me.

Muddling Through said...

I think it looks great. I am so not a perfectionist, but still. To me it doesn't look unacceptable at all. If you were a machine, I would expect perfection in your work, but you are not a machine. You are a very talented human being.

Anonymous said...

I'm a perfectionist too, and learning to "let go" of some things is one of my constant works in progress. My husband is a great sounding board for me if I'm unsure- if I show him a "mistake" and he says, "Yeah, I can see why that bothers you" I go ahead and fix it- if he says "What mistake?" I (try to) let it go! I've also learned to make a choice one way or the other - to fix or let it be- and then live with it. If a seam doesn't match up perfectly and I decide it's not a big deal, I don't let myself keep fretting over it as I baste and quilt and bind.

Thanks for posting this- I love reading about your projects and the excited and not-so-excited moments you have while making them! Helps to know I'm not alone :)
-Ellen

Sarah said...

i think it looks great - i love the spirals. i do think we are too hard on ourselves. for me, i'm a galloping horse gal or a tim gunn "make it work people" gal. not that i'm a sloppy sewer. sewing time is precious for me, so i can't spend time worrying about perfectionism. i say to myself "i'll do my best. i'll not obsess" often. plus, washing and drying and snuggling on the couch hides a lot of things.

Tracey said...

I'm sorry any mistakes are spoiling this quilt for you (I can't see any). Thing is, we see every little flaw in our own work, things others would never notice, things we wouldn't notice in the work of others. Perhaps you could consider how you would feel about the quilting if someone else had done it, would you think they should rip it out?

Lisa ONeill said...

Why rip when you can simply buy more fabric and try again - it's all a learning experience. And to all the rippers out there - those little needle holes make me crazy - yes - you can see them - especially on solids!

Amanda said...

I hear you. I hand quilt and have been stitching in the ditch on a quilt for my daughter's bed, but I just don't like it. I really don't want to pull it out, it represents a ton of work, but will I hate it more and more over the years? I've nearly decided to add some embrodiery to some of the squares just to spice it up and give it some personality.

Teresa said...

I think you did a great job. Free motion quilting is one thing, doing concentric circles evenly is another thing.
I do believe that there is a fine line between doing your best, and overzealous perfectionism.
After all, what in nature is perfect?
Have you ever seen a perfectly symmetrical tree?

highwaycottage said...

I'm not a perfectionist at all. I can tolerate a very small pucker or 2. Recently I had to unpick a whole quilt of all over stippling as the front was perfect but the back was not. Took 18 hous of unpicking!!!! I was pleased that I had taken the time in the end as it was much better second time around.

Erin said...

I like quilts that have some imperfecions...it shows that it is indeed one of a kind...none of us are perfect, so why should our quilts be!? :) As the wonderful late Bob Ross would say 'we don't have mistakes here, just happy little accidents' Your quilting is beautiful by the way!

Lori said...

Its a fine line. A little offness gives character and a story to tell. Too much and its shoddy, or at the very least bugs yah. I say do what you feel comfortable with, keeping your perfectionism in check as much as possible. Perfectionism certainly has its place. BTW, I totally think they are perfect circles.

Andy said...

You also don't want the quilting to be so perfect it looks like a robot in some factory did it. Honestly that's how I feel about some long arm work. It just looks TOO perfect. I feel that a bit of imperfection also lends personality to the entire quilt. When I look at my grandma's quilts, I don't fault her for imperfections. In fact, I love to see them.

Metanoia said...

Didn't notice it until I read what you'd written. I thin it has wow factor right now. Very simple quilting but it makes those circles pop.

Anonymous said...

forgive & forget
lighten up
say okay & move on
these are good words, ones we need to incorporate in our lives if we're going to enjoy the process. The line comes, I think when you don't try to do well, when you just *throw it together to say done*. Unless the error is glaring or a huge *thorn in your side* I'd say let it go and give yourself *permission* to not be perfect, but to be relaxed and accepting of your less than perfect efforts, next time will be better.

Thimbleanna said...

What an interesting subject CrazyMom! My feeling has already been mentioned -- if it's going to bug me, I re-do it, 'cause I know it will bug me forever. Sometimes I can let things that bug me go, if it's a quilt I don't care that much about. I'm lucky though -- TheManoftheHouse loves to unpick while he's watching tv!

Marziah said...

I struggle with this, too. The quilt I just finished has several areas where I did take out stitches and others where I debated it. But in the in end, I remind myself that it is human-made, and if I wanted "perfect," I could buy a quilt made in a factory for a lot less. Minor imperfections give quilts character, and even quilts in museums have a few.

elizabeth said...

I have many quilt tops waiting to be quilted for this very reason. I am not a perfectionist, but I do like my work to be worth my time and so I guess I like well done. I can handle a wonky block or a point that isn't perfect but puckers really get to me ; ). Your quilting looks lovely, thanks for a great blog!

Amanda said...

I'm going through this right now- I made a quilt for a friends baby & did free-motion quilting for the very first time. Unfortunately, I ended up with lots of skipped stitches, pulled stitches & thread breaking. So now I'm going through and pulling out what I feel is unacceptable. My husband doesn't understand, but I know I would feel horrible to give a quilt like that!

On the other hand, I think a little bit of "wonky" stitching is ok- I think a little bubble on the back would hardly be noticeable when washed, and some slightly off quilting adds to the uniqueness. :-) Worst-case scenario, it could always be donated to someone that would love it, even with imperfections!

PunkiePie said...

In all honesty, I was a stresser of perfection. If it didn't come out "perfect", I hated it and threw in the towel. I have now convinced myself that it's made with Love and well, it's not going to be perfect but it will be perfect for me. Unless the mistake is SCREAMING out at me then I try to fix it.

I think your quilting looks great. Much better than I could ever do. Free motion scares me.

Natalie said...

I might try to fix the part with a bubble in it but sometimes those things are unavoidable. I wouldn't worry about the circles so much because I think they look good a little wobbly.

Anonymous said...

I think the real thing is to do your best at every given moment, but if you redo on Tuesday what your best was on Monday, , you won;t have really done anything on Monday.I think one of the other commenters had it right when she said her test was if she could live with it....but if the only thing you can live with with what you will be doing as the best...well, maybe the point is made......lol.....
ktj

suz said...

I think perfection is in the eye of the beholder. If you aren't happy with your quilt, it won't matter whether 100 people tell you its wonderul - you know you aren't pleased - and that's all that counts!

JG said...

There is a real fine line with perfectionism. I have high expectations for me, probably because I've knitted, sewed & cooked for many years.

Taking a look outside at nature's works usually puts the perspective back in place for me. Not all leaves are equal in length nor are all flower blossoms equal in size.

BTW your quilt looks beautiful! :)
~JG

Anonymous said...

perfectionism isn't me. some days i wish i was, so that something turned out great!
but i do try my best and that makes me happy, and projects are turning out to my satisfaction.
since you are a perfectionist of sorts, you won't listen when i say leave the spirals. you said so yourself you probaly won't improve in that area. this is your trail quilt, and i think the uneven sprials helps add movement and randomness.
can't wait to see the final project. lets hope we don't have to wait until spring! :)
a

Anonymous said...

I also don't like the 10 ft rule. I am someone who tends to be nit picky. but I think your circles look fine. also what is going to happen when you wash it.... i think it will hide the flaws better then

Cary Wi

Munaiba said...

It's a hard call but my yard stick is this: Have I done the best that I can do. If I have and it's less than perfect then so be it, it is after all handmade. If I haven't and I know for sure I could do it better if I ripped it out then I will. Remember the little quirks show it was made by a human being NOT a machine. If you want machine-like precision buy a machine-made quilt. They may look perfect but they have no soul.

Andrea, the little collector said...

So Miss A-J, I was going to leave a zen comment about each quilt being a learning process, good enough being good enough, etc...but now you have me thinking about ripping out the quilting on the quilt I am working on! So much for acceptance. :)

Here are some questions I will be asking:

- What is the purpose of this quilt?

- Do the problems affect its primary purpose?

- Will I (or who I'm giving it to) get out of it what I will put into it by making the changes?

- Can I do it better with my given skill, knowledge, machine, quilt top, etc?

- If not, am I willing to wait until those things change?

- Do I honestly have the time to do this?

- Will redoing it feed my sense of accomplishment and creativity or deplete them?

Thanks for sharing your process...maybe I'll post mine too. :)

Mary said...

I totally understand your feelings. My dad was an artist and I can remember so well after he would work on something if there was something he didn't like he would go back and correct it. He would say,"it will keep bothering me until it is right". So I think it is a common feeling...I have that problem as well, although, I have lightened up some. Nothing is ever perfect...just as good as we can possibly make it and then just let it go. On a side note...I did the Cog and Wheel and quilted circles in the wheel...I used the Golden Threads (?) quilting paper. Traced out my design on the paper and then stitched right through the paper. Then tear the paper away. It worked well...although I would say stitching circles is not my favorite thing to do! Your quilt looks great - I would just leave it!

Marya L said...

I would leave it - the quilting is beautiful. I would give anything to be able to free motion quilt like you. I love the circle and the stippling. If you look at an antique quilt and it's not "perfect" doesn't that make it more valuable? It does to me. Same think applies here. You are not a machine and you don't want your quilting "perfect". You want it to look "real". :-)

Anonymous said...

I had a great quilting teacher who used to say "finished is better than perfect." To that I would add that I never, ever, ever undo something unless I am 100% certain I can do it better the next time. There were many times I would undo something only to have it turn out worse the second, third and fourth times around!

Brenda Rae said...

As a recovering perfectionist, here is how I look at my work - whatever it is. First, I step away from it for a while putting it out of sight. Then, after several days, if I look at it and still can't live with it, AND I think I have the ability to make it better that day (very important because skill level takes practice) then I redo. If not, then I embrace it for being the best I could do that day. These "humbling" works, for me, are some of my most cherished because they show my work as a process.

Anonymous said...

You know those circles almost represent life. Little wiggles here and there where things dont always go just as planned, but not enough to detract from the pattern. Instead it enhances the over all effect.
Quilting tends to tell story about the person creating the quilt. Look at Dear Jane. I know all of that quilt isnt perfect. I wonder about the 'flaws' in her quilting. I'd like to see them sometime. I'd love to see the back of her quilt too , see if there is a pucker or a maybe a little repair spot or two. Would these things make this quilt less than what it is?
Does your 'imperfections' in the quilt you are making really make this quilt less than what it is? No. Is it hard to let some of this stuff go? Oh most certainly yes! I am a beginner at the quilting part of a quilt , I constantly have to remind myself I am still looking for what works for me. When I find what does work for me then I will have the job of reminding myself it isnt always going to turn out as planned. Hugs. You will find your happy medium.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a perfectionist but I do strive for excellence. Your freehand spirals are wonderful. That's what freehand is my dear........it's freehand...it's not following a stencil/pattern and even those may not turn out much better because quilting in those directions are hard to accomplish. You'd have to have super control to make them perfect. I love seeing freehand because each one of use have an unique style of our own. If this quilt is to be used and loved it's just fine.........actually it's better than fine, but you understand. Now if you are talking about entering it in a show for judging then I can understand your questioning the final product. It's wonderful, it's beautiful and you should be proud of your work although we are our own worst critics. diane

Anita said...

Okay, 10 million comments later... (because I have been away from the computer) I have a hard time finding that happy medium too. It is definitely a process of learning. Wishing you less perfection and more excellence. I think it comes with time. Notice I didn't say age. :)

Anonymous said...

Sweetie Pie, the quilt police will NOT come and get you! The phase I like is "finished is better than perfect"! I once made an "ugly" quilt that a little boy with severe health problems fell in LOVE with! If the person you are giving this to is a quilter - she will understand it not being perfect. And if they aren't a quilter they will think you are the best quilter in the world! Plus, I say wash it and see if it doesn't look a whole lot better! You inspire me - not with perfection but with flair!

jmbmommy said...

When I first looked at this photo, I thought "that looks cool, I really like that quilting." Regarding perfectionism, I always ask "What is the purpose for this quilt?" If it is a picnic, or lay around on the floor kinda use quilt, then I leave in some of the things that bug me. If I am entering it in a show (even if it is just for fun) then I fix it.

Lisa said...

When I looked at your photo I thought how nicely the spirals complimented the circles and that the surrounding quilting looks great on the quilt. I didn't notice anything other than that. I *love* handmade and like many quilters I am a perfectionist. How do I reconcile those two? Sometimes it's a struggle. I am learning to let go. Foremost, handmade is lovely, yet it's sometimes not perfect. That's okay. Why is it that piecing that's 'askew' like 'wonky stars' is great but quilting must be perfection? Many posts have noted that if it will bug you then you should fix it. I agree...I would likely put it away for a week or two (four?!) and then take it out and see if things still bother you. You could always donate it!! Taking out the quilting is a big job and you may decide that your time is better spent finishing something else if you find the quilting is acceptable as it is on this lovely quilt. Wishing you well. ~~Lisa

Seamingly Sarah said...

I'm VERY new to free motion quilting and still learning with all other aspects of sewing. So I expect myself to mess up. I just give away the projects that I don't hold dear and have flaws. I guess you have to ask yourself if you really could have done better originally? Or do you just not like the quilt in general? Then give it away. Someone else would love it all the more.
And as a side note this quilt you did inspired the quilt design that I want to make for my sister. So there's some good in everything, even if we never know it.

QuiltieComments said...

I'm constantly having this conversation with myself as well... how perfect is perfect enough to move on and get it done? I guess I've decided it's perfectly ok to draw your line...and then change that line as your skills improve. That's my conclusion anyway. Your line is moving pretty fast, Amandajean!!

Regina said...

I just spent hours ripping out quilting. During the process I cursed myself the entire time for being picky about it but after it was done and re-quilted I was so glad I did it. I did end up with the backing looking worse because I had to re-pin it and wasn't as careful the second time around. By that point I decided it was a minor thing I could live with that probably won't be noticeable after it's washed.

zigomar said...

In France we say "le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" (Best is the ennemy of better).

z said...

So many years studying english, and such a mistake ! Please read above : Better is the ennemy of good. Apologize ...

Anonymous said...

I only wish my machine quilting looked as good!

Kelli said...

Of course, you are a much better quilter than me, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt, but my theory on my work is this...if I'm embarrassed for anyone to see it, then it immediately gets ripped out. But, I keep in mind that I am not a perfect being, therefore my work will not be perfect either. So, if it's a minor thing that I will notice, but I think no one else will, then I decide...can I live with this or not? Usually, I can live with it to have it done and move on to my next project!

Lynn said...

I struggle with the same problem. I do find that I usually like the quilting better after washing.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I just looked at the picture of your quilt after surfing the net for 4 hours trying to find something like this, Do you have a pattern for the cutting and piecing? Where did you get yours from? How do I get one? PLEASE RESPOND!
Roseli Zimmerman
roseli_zimmerman@hotmail.com