Sunshine Quilts

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bird's Eye View of Perfection

Several years ago, while at the Museum of American Quilter's Society in Paducah, I saw the exhibit of 20 years of winning quilts from the AQS Show. This trip to the museum probably changed my quilting more than any one event! If you've ever gone to a huge quilt show, you know that it's very hard to get up close and personal with the winning quilts and if you do get real close, it's really quick and you have to move on. While at the museum, even though I couldn't touch the quilts, I could see them "eyeball to eyeball". While the quilts were all amazing and way, way, way better than anything I will ever do, some weren't really *perfect*. There were some spots where the stitches were a bit uneven, a long stitch here or there. There were some spots where points didn't quite meet perfectly. Don't get me wrong - these quilts are outstanding but from a distance, I had never realized there was anything not totally perfect about them. For the most part, the quilts there were totally perfect but just seeing those few that had just a little bit of imperfection made me realize that I could enter my quilts in big shows. I never had any dream of winning any kind of ribbon but I did feel empowered to enter my imperfect quilts in shows. I entered a few quilts in shows and then in 2004, I wanted to enter something in the AQS Expo in Nashville. I read the rules and it was about a week until the deadline for getting the entry done. One of the categories was "AQS 20th Anniversary" and it had to be something made from an AQS book. I had this black stack & whack but it wasn't quilted yet. I had intended to give it for a teacher gift at Christmas the year before and had never gotten it quilted. I didn't think I had time to get it quilted but my quilting friend, Sally, encouraged me to just get it done. So, I did. The binding was only halfway finished in the picture I submitted with my entry. A month or so before the quilt show, I received notice that it had been accepted so I had to finish the binding. As I began removing the threads and lint, I realized that I had done a very stupid thing! I'm so cheap! I use the leftover bobbins from the longarm for my piecing. There were places where I had used red, orange, yellow, gray . . you name it . . thread on that black fabric. In some spots, the tension wasn't perfect or the stitches were too big and you could see all these little dots of red, orange, yellow or gray thread! Oh, my! This quilt was already entered and accepted. What could I do? I thought of telling them I couldn't enter it . . maybe the dog ate it?? Then I thought . . Sharpie!! I got a black sharpie and touched almost every stitch on that quilt. Off it went to AQS for the show. I had two quilts in the show and I just knew the other one would win a ribbon because it had won ribbons every where else it had been. Found it .. no ribbon! I was just making my way through the show and I got to that quilt and it had WON! Best of Category .. top prize! I couldn't believe it! We're our own worst critics! I will never make a quilt that equals those that win at Paducah but if I had talked myself out of entering the black stack & whack quilt because of its imperfections, it would never have won. So, if you're a quilter and if your points don't always meet or if your stitches are a little uneven, don't worry about it. There are a whole bunch of us quilters who aren't quite perfect and a very few who are nearing perfect. And, the pictures you see, whether it be pictures I share here or pictures you see in magazines -- remember that not every little imperfection shows up in pictures! I think it's important to have fun, enjoy what we do and leave a quilt or two behind for future generations. Now, speaking of imperfections, check this out. This is greatly enlarged but as I began quilting this top, I came across this seam. OOPS! Not much I can do about it now. I thought I was being way more careful and checking all the seams but I was tired when I was putting this final border together. Probably all those award winning quilters stop when they get tired. Not me . . I keep on because I want to get finished NOW! I'm thinking/hoping that once it's quilted, no one will even notice. How's that for optimistic? I use a bunch of painter's tape. When I have a stencil that needs to fit into a certain spot, I mark strategic "landmarks" so I can just lay the stencil down in the correct place each time without having to measure. On this particular stencil, I put the blue painter's tape to line up with the green strip in the border. Pretty simple, huh? Judy L.


  • wow. that really gives one perspective; the guild i just joined last month is having its first ever quilt show - and many ladies belong to another guild also that won first places, etc. This might give me the courage to enter.... now to decide what to enter!! Thanks for giving me the courage to decide to enter!

    Also - an awsome idea about the templates!

    By Blogger computerpeach, at 5/08/2006 07:51:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the tip. I am just starting to draw out stencils on quilts then quilting. I can use all the tips you have to offer. Beautiful.

    By Blogger dot, at 5/08/2006 10:02:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the inspiring post. I am far from perfect but still enjoy quilting and that's the main thing.

    By Blogger joyce, at 5/09/2006 04:21:00 AM  

  • Thanks for your post! You have no idea how much hope that gives a new quilter like me. Sometimes I look at my sewing and think "why do I even bother!" now, I realize I am only human. I have only been sewing for a year and there is still hope for me. Thanks for the tip too!!

    By Blogger Audrey, at 5/09/2006 05:06:00 AM  

  • Cool story... The quilting on that black quilt will draw you eye away from the minute piecing error...

    BTW I finally saw you published heart quilt pattern... Lovely! (Do you get a lot of business - for your long arming - when you publish a pattern? I guess my real question is, so people make the top and then want you to quilt it like you quilted you own? What about whith your other patterns?)

    By Blogger The Calico Cat, at 5/09/2006 05:52:00 AM  

  • Thanks for sharing that story. Maybe someday I'll get brave enough to enter something. But I'll probably at least have to learn how to do bindings correctly first! :)

    By Blogger Laurie Ann, at 5/09/2006 10:49:00 AM  

  • I love your comments on award winning quilts. It is so good to get up close and see at least some small imperfections! It makes me feel a bit better about myself and my quilting! I love the blue painters tape trick!

    By Blogger Dawn, at 5/09/2006 11:35:00 AM  

  • I sure was glad to read that as I have yet to make a perfect quilt top.

    By Blogger Patty, at 5/09/2006 07:46:00 PM  

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