Done is better than perfect, and just starting is better than not.

These Accuquilt dies are so magical to me. I’ve always been pretty happy that I could cut a straight line, maybe a little arrogant about it, but I’m terrible at making triangles the correct size or squares exactly square. It’s the math of it all that makes me freak out a bit. And then having to duplicate the cutting the exact same way a hundred million times for a single project and that was it. I’m out. But since I started hoarding collecting dies, I’m finding that there is a lot of fun over here on the quilt-y side of sewing.

For the last few weeks I’ve been practicing some FMQ (free-motion quilting) techniques. These were kind of frustrating in the beginning, until I went to a local quilt shop just to talk about it with someone (this is the part where we diverge from the “crafting is cheaper than therapy” mantra, because I’m pretty sure my therapist is cheaper – and covered by insurance!) My quilt shop compadres asked, did I have gloves (no), did I have the right foot (yes, but I bought a ruler foot too, just so I could fall back on using rulers if I had to) and did I try out the long arms yet? (yes, surprisingly they let me drive one everytime I go in! It’s easier to test drive a long arm than it is a new car, that’s for sure!) Ugh. The longarm seems like it would be so much easier. And faster. But I have this gorgeous new sewing room that I filled up with the things that were overflowing from all over the rest of the house and I don’t really have room for a long arm until at least several more kids move out. (yes, there are a lot of kids here!) So, I go back and take the new gloves and the slippy slidey slider mat home and practice some more.

It’s like an attempt to get inside the mind of the woman who was entranced by the Yellow Wall Paper. Maybe she needed something like quilting to practice, as an outlet for the anxiety she experienced. My stack of practice quilt sandwiches is my yellow wall paper pile, and I’m just keeping them close in case…I don’t know why – maybe to ward off the anxiety.

Somewhere on practice run 5 or 6 something clicked. I wasn’t having to force the curves and loops and they just flowed. like really happened. So I went a little faster and decided I needed to try it out on a real quilt. But I’m still to chicken to do that much so I broke out a new Accuquilt die, the spool block and made a few of those up, thinking they were going to sit horizontally in a row. I am still working out of a box of mask scraps, so there is plenty of raw material there. Enough to get three little spool blocks out. And then white background.

The spool blocks finish up at 6 inches, so I cut some 2.5 inch strips from the white to use as a border, and decided that would work between each block, but it felt better to do the blocks vertically at this point, and then I could hang it on the wall – I need a few more soft things on one side of the room to absorb the sound just a little more.

Of course, then I got distracted by wanting to have a quilt label, not that these are heirlooms or anything, I just feel like it’s important to practice all the other things on even the little things so that I will remember to do them on the bigger things when I get to that point. So I digitized a little quilt label really quick and embroidered it out, then used a few more scraps from one piece of beautiful fabric that I’ve been saving from scraps for the last 15 years to frame it out, and then inset it into the backing so it’s not an afterthought, it’s part of the whole thing. One of my sewing inspiration friends always said “done is better than perfect” so I took her mantra and used it to help me push through this project. But I may have to use this saying on many more of my quilts. It makes me happy to integrate her wisdom into my little sewing quilt.

Thank you, Rowena! Your words are forever part of my process.

Then the quilt sandwich. I love doing this. It’s like a mark that the quilt top is actually going to become an actual quilt. Like a REAL quilt. Like when a tadpole gets his legs and starts to look more like a frog.

What’s for dinner? Quilt sandwiches! Just kidding, Paul offered to cook after I started in with the yellow wall paper thing again.

And then some deep breaths, but I remember that I JUST today made some pretty swirls and swoops and can do it again. Just change the machine foot and get on with it! Swoop, swirl, swish, loop, swoop swoop swoop. It’s easy to get lost in the process, like a rhythm that takes over and you just feel it and no longer have to think. swish-swoop-swish-loop-loopy-loop.

Oh, there’s that feeling again. I should have made the quilt bigger. It’s already over? I think I like this part the best. The QUILTING part of quilting. I like the piecing, and I like the arranging, but I LOVE the quilting. I don’t have a word for it yet, but maybe the word will come in time. Or maybe there’s not a word, just the feeling, but I want to feel that more, because it is just so freeing. Just the rhythm of the swirling, and keeping the stitches consistent. It’s coming, and I can feel it. I didn’t expect to get this part already. If it didn’t turn out, I could just put it in the yellow wall paper pile, but it’s definitely looking good. All swoops and swirls in the background. The spools themselves are just a tight back and forth, to give the idea of thread, made out of thread, on a block that forms the image of a thread holder. It’s all very redundant. But still so satisfying.

I know that I could harness the digitizing of machine embroidery to get a technically perfect quilted pattern, even to accurately fit this block, since everything lined up perfectly, But I still want to do it like this, with this free motion low tech process. It connects me more to myself in the process, removing the computer and the software. It’s just me and the machine.

Quilt as desired is such a big scary sounding proposition. But maybe it’s just the infinite possibilities. I’m getting braver for sure.

Since it came out OK, and actually accurately square (rectangular) it can hang. When I bound it with the same gradient material as the grey spools, I slipped two little triangles in the top corners and asked Paul to hack off the ends of a small dowel to slip in to stabilize it as a hanger. Perfect. And now it’s hanging (appropriately) over one of my thread cabinets.

Done is better than perfect, and practice gets you closer to the done part quicker. But in order to get done, you just have to start.

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