Quilting, Creativity, and Letting Go of Perfection

Quilting is a precise skill.  We are taught to cut each triangle perfectly right.  If not, your points will not come together and your quilt will be lopsided.  Follow directions to the "T" is what we are taught.

There were a lot of trianges to cut for this quilt.  I cannot recall the size the triangles were supposed to be, but I read that it was best to cut long strips of fabric and then with a rotary cutter, cut the triangles from strips.  Yeah Yeah Yeah.

Not having a large enough table or even surface to cut the proper size strips, and not owning a rotary cutter, I created a triangle using the dimensions given from a paper bag.  Then I cut the triangle by pinning the paper bag pattern to the fabric and cutting one by one.  Realizing that that was going to take a lot of time, I made a few more paper bag triangle patterns, and pinned them all close together on the fabric.  That also took a long time to cut out.  Then I stacked the fabric, first two layers, then three, and definately 4.  Whatever I could cut through at once.

Yikes you say, right?  Especially if you've quilted before.

Well needless to say, I sometimes cut the pattern, so it got smaller, and I had to remember next time using it to make that side of the triangle just slightly bigger.  Why hadn't I made another triangle pattern?  What was I thinking.

This went on for about 6 months in between feeding the baby, playing with the baby, shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, etc.  I finally had all the triangles cut.

Then I had to cut the inner squares, so much easier and quicker than the little triangles.

I then spent the next 6 months, when spare time could be found (even if it meant lost sleep), arranging the triangles into little piles, matching them up so they could be sewn in a particular order.  After 6 months I didn't get very far with that.  So then I randomly matched up the triangles.  Whatever.

Finally I had all these triangles sewn into little groups that were ready to be attached to the white squares.  They didn't exactly fit due to a combination of measuring incorrectly, cutting incorrectly, sewing incorrectly, etc.  Boy, I really should have followed the directions more closely.

But after a year and a half of  using my spare time working on this, and at the point that I was, I was determined to move foreward and make it work.  I forced everything to fit together....oh no!  So there were lots of lumps and bumps, twists and turns in the quilt top that would have made any quilt teacher shreak!

But I didn't have a quilt teacher.  I was learning this all on my own with the help of some photocopied quilt instructions (made for someone who knew what they were doing).

I borrowed my mother-in-law's floor when I was ready to put the sandwiched top, batting and backing together.  I carefully long stitched by hand, 4 inches apart the entire quilt.  Then another 2 years of quilting it by hand.  I wanted it to be an authentic handmade quilt.  To me machine quilting it would be cheating.

That was my first experience with quilting over 25 years ago.  I was pretty proud of myself, but I knew deep down this quilt would not win any awards, ever.  No one could put any value on this quilt.

Then one day I read an article about buying antique quilts and what to look for in terms of value.

Guess what it was:  In order to determine if an antique quilt was commercial or not, handsewn or not, look for the mistakes.  

Oh my gosh....my quilt must be priceless!

Anyway, once I got over myself, I realized it wasn't really priceless, but just personally valuable.  It taught me a huge lesson that has helped be achieve what I have in the business of creativity:

Do not aim for perfection.  Perfection is the killer of creativity.

You can quote me on that.

Now if you have read this to the end, please go to artisticimprint.teachable.com and sign up for my beginner class Zenflower Mandala Level 1. Create a mandala using paper and markers.  Easy Peasy! Mistakes are forgiven...there is no need to be perfect.  We have enough apps and digital programs to create the perfect mandala.  Only you can create a mandala that is uniquely your own.  No one will make the same exact mistakes in yours.....enjoy, and I will see you in the classroom!

Imprintably yours,

Karen Pruzansky
Multi-Media Artist 
Certified Creatively Fit Coach


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