Have you made a quilt with a humility block? Do you know what that even is? It is a block that keeps you humble with proof that you are not a perfect quilter. Last month I sent a newsletter with a picture of this block.
It is block 6 of the Celebrate Quilt. Shortly after sending it, I received a few emails from readers asking if I knew that one of the corner blocks was turned. Until then, I hadn’t noticed it. Now this was a block I referenced frequently as I made notes throughout the piecing. I then hung the block in front of me while writing the instructions. I photographed it, edited the pictures; then dropped the photo into the newsletter, proofread it, and hit “send”. Throughout the process, I probably looked at that block at least a hundred times and did not notice the mistake.
I’m sure you, too, have made a block or a quilt only to realize it has a mistake.
Maybe you have heard some of these sayings:
“The Amish intentionally make a mistake in their quilts because only God is perfect.”
This is a myth. Any mistake you find in an Amish quilt is just that–a mistake. This doesn’t even make sense because if it is intentional it is not a mistake!
“It will never be noticed on a galloping horse.”
This is one of my favorites and what I keep in mind with little things like triangle points that are a bit squared off or seams that don’t quite match. Unless you are the quilt police (you aren’t, are you?), then you probably don’t scrutinize these things when you look at a quilt. It is the overall design, colors, or general workmanship that create a beautiful quilt. I never strive for perfection. I quilt purely for fun. Worrying about every little detail would completely suck the joy out of me.
“You aren’t wearing it to church so don’t worry about it.”
This means that our work is only judged with human eyes, not God’s. Anyway, most people probably don’t even know what “Sunday best” means anymore.
“Done is better than perfect.”
This is another one of my favorites. Since I donate so many quilts, my priority is finishing them. Typically, I don’t know where the quilts end up and my hope is simply that they are used to keep someone warm. This doesn’t mean I take shortcuts, don’t care, or do sloppy work. Again, I don’t worry about making things perfect. My other thought on this saying is that time is worth more than perfection. I have seen quilters rip a seam two or three times in an effort to get a perfect point. Is your time worth that effort, especially when nobody but you will ever notice?
“It’s not a mistake, it’s creative license.”
Many new blocks are created by mistake. Who knows what you might come up with when you piece something “not quite right”. Typically people say this when what they mean is, “If it bothers you, then fix it. If it doesn’t, let it go.”
“Shake it when it’s done and all mistakes disappear!”
I love this phrase and wish it was true. The meaning is similar to the galloping horse saying. When the quilt is on a bed, or used to keep someone warm, will little imperfections matter?
What you should NEVER do, is post it in a big group and ask what you should do. You will end up with a hundred different opinions and still not have an answer. So, what should you do when you find a mistake in a quilt? Honestly, the three options are to fix it, let it go, or abandon the project. Only you know your tolerance for mistakes and whether or not the correction is worth your time. If it is troublesome every time you look at the quilt, you should fix it. Admittedly, I have used all three options. If I catch a mistake right away, I always fix it. If I KNOW there is an error, it would bother me to leave it.
This is an example of letting it go. This quilt, which is one of my very favorites, has a whole row flipped. These star points match the stars on the other side of the row. I did not notice it at any time during the piecing or quilting. I saw it as I hand-stitched the binding. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. There really is no good option to fix it so it stands as a glaring reminder that I am not a perfect quilter!!
There have also been times when I pitched a project because the effort to fix a mistake was not worth my time. It is not fun to pick out stitches and seams don’t ever seem to line up as well the second time. If it is a big mistake or one I’ve repeated on many blocks, I would rather start over.
My main message in this post is to give yourself grace as a quilter. Don’t let perfectionism steal your joy for quilting. Strive for excellence but have fun throughout the journey. The very best way I know to become a better quilter is to make more quilts. With each quilt you make, your skills will improve, you will learn a new trick or two, and you will become more creative.
This is no longer a humility block. Is it perfect? Haha! But you will never notice from a galloping horse.