Friday, July 17, 2009


As I've been steadily working through the piecing for this project this week, I've been thinking about the best and worst parts of the process. For me the best part is the ironing.

Wait, wait, stay with me!

It's not that I like ironing. I certainly don't like to iron shirts. But when I've sewn a set of sections or blocks and I take them all to the ironing board and they open up to a stack of perfect points, crisp and flat and smelling of the hot iron, I feel like progress is blossoming right before my eyes. It's the big payoff for the time spent marking, cutting, pinning and sewing.

Except sometimes what appears is not-so-perfect points. Which brings me to the worst part of this sewing business: taking out mistakes. It's a terrible drag, both on progress and on motivation, to take out and redo. And so this time, I didn't. I know that in quilting, precision really does pay off in the end. If things are wrongly sized or crooked, I'm going to have to deal with them sooner or later. When I put them in the larger section, they won't fit if they are off-of-square or wrong in some other way. But on the other hand, getting better at this stuff is as much about practice as precision, and it's not much fun to practice if I'm taking out every less-than-perfect triangle.

I was remembering the machine quilting class I took and one of the other students. She was doing good work - it certainly looked better than mine. It looked better than anyone else's in the class but as the teacher complimented her, she declared that is wasn't good enough and that she was very unhappy with it. Over protests from the class members she insisted, "It has to be absolutely perfect. If it isn't, I can't be happy with it. That's just how I am." I found myself thinking (in possibly too much of a mommy-vernacular), "What a sad choice." Because it is a choice, and if you aren't willing be happy with less than absolute perfection, you'll never be happy.

I decided that I've got plenty of projects on which to insist on precision. This one is going to be about trying and doing and not stressing over the perfect points. I've got 21 blocks done (except for four small stars that need to be appliqued on) and three blocks left to go. They sure aren't perfect, but I like them. After a few more minutes left to sew today, I have to clean up the dining room table to make room for social activities this weekend so I don't know if the last three will happen or not. But hey, I already knew I wasn't so perfect at finishing things.


  1. To further your resolve I'll remind you of something you told me years ago when I was struggling with having to do projects half-hearted at work to keep up the pace demanded of me: "...but what's the business case for perfection?"

  2. This may be my favorite post from you yet. What a nice reminder about the dangers of perfectionism. Thanks for sharing.

  3. AP - thanks so much!! I'm honored, knowing your level of discernment!

    Julie - Ok, that sounds like a alien world now! But, you make a good point.