09 December, 2014
Quilting - K.I.S.S.
In the real world I hover somewhere between planning as much as possible and flying by the seat of my pants. I used to plan everything, research it all, and know what I was doing before I took a step. Then I met my husband, a very, very spontaneous person. And I became a mom, where planning causes more anxiety at times than learning to go with the flow. So now, I occupy a lovely space of chaos somewhere in between.
It is no different with quilting. I adore improv and hand appliqué, I write and make precision pieced patterns, and I will happily straight line quilt as much as I will free motion.
All that being said, I learned a lesson in the past week.
I had a stack of tops and backs ready to go and an appointment on the long arm. I had plans for what I was going to do, or at least ideas. The first quilt went well. Even when I changed my quilting plan as I loaded the quilt top on the long arm. The second quilt was a fast make - I had an idea and made the entire twin sized top in a few days. I thought I knew exactly how I would quilt it. It got loaded up, I checked my tension, and went for it.
And right away I knew it was wrong. But I kept going because, hey, I'm here! Can't waste the time! I finished one pass across the quilt and stopped. Staring at it wasn't going to make it any better. My stitches were fine, but the pattern I went with was totally wrong. The idea surpassed my skills, for sure. It was also too fancy for the quilt.
So I tried something else. And that was just as bad.
I was totally overthinking things. But I was convinced that because I was on the long arm I had to do something MORE than the usual. So after some frantic texts to Andrea and chatting with my friend Phil who watches over the renters I decided to cut my losses and take the quilt off the frame.
Ahead of me looms hours of unpicking my quilting. But that is better than the alternative - giving away a quilt I cringed over. Sure, it is only a gift for a 5 year old boy. But I love that boy as much as I love my own kids, he deserves some quality work.
I will head back to the long arm and not only quilt something closer to my skill level, but also more appropriate for this quilt. This was a painful reminder that simple can be quite good, quite perfectly imperfect.
Don't get me wrong, I do indeed believe in continually pushing ourselves to improve, to be better. And the only way to do that is by doing. But we also need to give ourselves and our quilts perspective. This isn't a show quilt, it doesn't need super dense quilting. It's going on the bed of a thoughtful and funny little boy. It will be jumped on and barfed on. The dog will also find it cozy. It will hopefully last him long enough for me to make him a quilt when he leaves home and has a bigger bed.
I need to take some of my chaotic energy and calm it down with both a clear plan and a sense of adventure when it comes to this quilt. Something all over so the piecing shines and not some awful quilting. I'm going to unpick those stitches and keep it simple, stupid.