Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Misadventures in Quilting, and Why We Should Admit It

You know, sometimes I forget that people read what I say on here. One should always assume that anything one says online is being read by both familiar and unfamiliar people across the wild, weird Internet. That's a pretty important thing to shove to the back of the brain! Well, I'll be totally honest. I do forget about that point, quite a lot actually. This blog is a lot of fun for me because I am so impassioned by quilting and I truly want to share it with everyone. Just like anyone else with a quilting blog, it's quilting as seen through my eyes in my own voice. As a side point, for those that don't know me, I pretty much write the way I speak, which I'm sure explains for you my tendency to ramble on I'm doing...(I do it in real life too).
But in forgetting that people actually read this, it comes back to me in some funny, strange and touching ways. I was utterly stoked when Craft Gossip mentioned this blog in their supermassive, super awesome blog...actually, come to think, I still can't believe it! They are out of Australia. Someone from allllll the way in Australia read my blog. Holy mackeral! Then I look at my blog stats, just for fun. Someone in Russia reads the heck out of this thing, and someone from allllll the way over in Kenya has been reading too. It makes a girl feel pretty small that someone so far away in this huge world and this immense-yet-tiny Internet is paying attention at least every now and then. Very humbling, and very cool.

Every now and then, a customer will be in the shop and mention that they read my blog, and I know that every single time someone tells me that, I invariably look like a deer in the headlights. It goes something like this: Customer: "Oh, I read your blog!" Me:


The other day I was at work at the register helping a customer (since this is the Internet, I won't be mentioning names, but she will know who she is!), you know, like we do. I was cutting fabric and we were chatting and after we were done with the register dance she told me, basically, that she reads my blog and loves it. Despite my chronic Deer-in-the-Headlights Syndrome, I managed to squeak out what had to be the most awkward "thank you" ever and told her I was glad she enjoyed it...and I am!

But she went on to tell me she really gets a kick out of it and it makes her laugh because I will admit to things that it seems a lot of other people and quilters don't - making mistakes, getting mad about them, the cutting corners in the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do method, etc - and it was nice to hear someone else talk about doing the same thing we know every quilter does. What went from my typical awkward exchange of "wow, people read this...thanks!" went to another level of deer-in-the-headlights...all I knew to say was "Thanks I'm glad you get a kick out of it!" I know, I know, I'm a painfully awkward human being when it comes to recieving what I percieve to be a compliment. Nothing new there!

That customer brought up a really good point and it got me to thinking though.  I didn't realize until she pointed it out that I DO jabber on about how I made some mistake here or there, or how my color choice didnt work like I thought it would. But I do. In real life, it's true - I do get super PO'ed when I make a mistake, especially one I could have avoided had I not been arrogant enough to not read the directions thoroughly, and it's true, I HATE admitting when I'm wrong. But I feel like here, in a community of quilters doing the same thing I do, I can admit to making silly mistakes and be genuine about it; after the fact, it is pretty funny and it does make me laugh and since I seem to write this blog obliviously, I just say it and don't think twice.

But again, little things can get you to thinking about bigger picture ideas. I watch shows like Fons and Porter and Quilting Arts. I meet quilters of all skill levels every day. Sometimes, if it's a very rare day, I'll meet a household name quilter (and be absolutely starstruck). But I notice the same thing she does - as a community, very seldom do we admit to making mistakes and having things not work out like we planned, and when we do it's in a negative context.  Watching quilting shows, mistakes made are either never addressed, or are brushed aside as things only inexperienced quilters do and certainly not the hostess. But then when a mistake is made on-screen it too is brushed aside as being difficult to do on TV, not as an error any skill level quilter can make. What?

I'm going to keep right on admitting that I screw up minorly and majorly on projects all the time. I miscut, iron instead of press, forget to pin, get fusible on my iron, step on pins, lose pattern pieces, lose appliques and redo them only to find the one I lost after sewing to replacement down, sew things in upside down or backwards, accidentally have one piece with wrong side up, sometimes have a wonky quarter inch, break needles, sew over pins, pucker fabric and God knows what else. Sometimes I fix it because it has to be fixed and sometimes because I want it fixed - but then again, sometimes I say, "Forget it, I'll fudge it and make it work," or "Whatever, it'll press/piece/quilt out." And you know? My quilts turn out pretty nicely if I do say so myself. They're not perfect by any means, but then again, show me a quilt that truly is, and I'll eat my hat. And that one messes things up while quilting doesn't mean it's simply inexperience, lack of skill or just "being dumb" (I hear that one a lot...quit saying that! You're anything but dumb), it means that you're using your human brain and human motor skills and, well, those functions are just not 100% accurate 100% of the time when you're doing something as involved as quilting.

By admitting, no matter how experienced or inexperienced we are, that we make mistakes while we're making our quilts (and laughing about it instead of being disparaging about it) is just one more thread that brings this community together. I'm not saying go out and point out your every mistake, that's not it at all. But being honest about having difficulty with something in the process when it comes up can serve as a confidence boost for everyone involved. It levels the playing field for quilters at all skill levels, because if a beginner knows that an advanced quilter sometimes miscuts a square, loses a pattern or miscalculates a measurement, it reminds them that no quilter is perfect and they can be that good too regardless of their mistakes in the process; it's the "well, if they had trouble with that part too, then maybe I'm not as silly as I thought I was" thought process that helps give us confidence. It helps people become more accessable to one another, to open the discussion up to asking for help, tips and suggestions, rather than perpetuating the "I can't do this!" mindset. So our misadventures keep us humble and keep us together in the community no matter how good at this we are. Elitism between skill levels is one of the negative aspects of the quilting community, and by laughing at and talking about the mistakes we know we all make, makes that elitism a non-issue.

So let me hop off my soapbox and get back to work on figuring out what I'm going to substitue for that Layer Cake piece I screwed up.

1 comment:

  1. At work I always have to remind my client that it's ok when things have little mistakes and aren't perfect, because: it's the little mistakes we have that make us special. That's how I look at my quilts, at leat mom and dad know I made this myself and didn't just o out and buy it. Of course we all want everything to be perfect, but then where would all the individuality be?
    I figured that's a more sane approach. At least I'll get to keep some of my sanity...


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