You’ve been busy working on your quilt, and as you’re getting closer
and closer to finishing it, you’re starting to lose enthusiasm, you’re looking to be starting something new and you sort of have to “drag” yourself into picking it up and finishing it.
This was not how you started making this quilt...you’d found or decided
on the quilt and the pattern that you’d love to make, or more likely ... “I’ve Got to make this! How amazing is this design, pattern etc.... I’ve got to have it NOW!”
Off you go (or running as fast as you can), as you’re filled with
inspiration, enthusiasm & excitement to the fabric store to purchase more
quilting fabrics, sewing threads, stabilisers, quilting pins, sewing machine needles...and Ohh what else do I need?
You have everything to get you started; you rush back home forgetting to
buy the ingredients to cook your families evening meal.
Out comes the pattern all over the kitchen table and the floor, your fabric
is glowing at you in all its glory, the scissors and rotary cutter are working at full speed, the piles of triangles, squares & rectangles are piling high next to you.
You’re in a beautiful creative flurry, so inspired, time is standing still, in
fact is there even such a thing as time? You don’t have a care in the world, the only thing that matters here right now is what you’re doing.... “Isn’t this what I
was born to do”?
All of a sudden the family starts arriving home at the end of the day and
you barely notice them, you’re so totally buried in what you’re doing, you’ve
barely stopped for a cuppa and something to eat all day....
Then someone says to you.... (what was that? A voice...), “What’s for tea?”
Hmmm.... Tea/dinner, I’m not stopping for that, they’ll have to look after themselves!
Finally, you reluctantly went to bed in the wee small hours of the morning
but you could hardly sleep, as you were so totally excited about this new quilt.
The following days, weeks or maybe months were much the same, you
barely went out, or noticed your family as you were still really “into” this new quilt, but then something happened and you possibly didn’t even realise it was happening...
You started having the families clothes washed again and their meals
ready for them when they arrived home, you even started ironing.
You were feeling a little “flat” and it had become a bit of a drag to work on
your beloved quilt, you had lost “your flow” you thought, you were feeling discontented with the way it was looking, it wasn’t looking as you’d hoped for.
“This little area here would have looked better if I’d just stopped and made a smallish change to it, maybe a different coloured thread would’ve looked better”.
Oh well you think, I’ve paid for the fabric, threads, etc so I had better keep working on it, maybe I’ll donate it for a charity quilt, someone will like it I’m sure. So you begrudgingly keep working on it but you feel flat about it. Will you put it into your UFO pile, no not this one as that’s not what this is about today...
You keep working on it, and eventually you finish it, but you feel sooo disappointed about the finish of it. You look at it in more detail and wonder what would have happened if you’d taken the time to stop and fix the problem that you had waaay back then, what if you’d stopped and spent an extra week or so working on a particular area and you start seeing that you could have made this to be the amazing quilt that you’d visualised it to be, way back when you felt so inspired when purchasing your fabrics & quilting needs.
But you were in such a hurry to get it finished, you were just wanting to
see this quilt come alive, you needed to see it finished in record time, you didn’t take the time to settle in and really feel and see your quilt, to master this quilt, to create it as an artist like Monet would create a painting. This can often be the difference to an amazing quilt or “it’s a nice quilt”.
Do you know the difference so often to creating a quilt that really “pops”, a
quilt that has that huge “Wow” factor is so incredibly simple that many people overlook it?
When teaching classes, I hear the above scenario so often that I’ll stop a
class for a short time and explain this a little more to my lovely students. If I have a large quilt with me, then I have many things that I can show and explain to them.
I like to share my knowledge and expertise as I believe that if I don’t share
it in different forms and ways, then I’m robbing other people of their chance to grow within their own personal creative journey.
So one of the simple secrets to having a quilt that really pops and that feeling you have when you’ve just totally finished your quilt and you’re more excited about it now than you were when you were buying all your quilting fabric, threads, needles etc is to take more time while you’re creating your quilt by really looking at each area “before” you move onto the next part of your quilt.
I never move forward unless I’m totally happy with the result.
When I’m making either a very large exhibition quilt or a class sample,
I always have one rule, although I don’t see it as a rule, it's just something that I do.
I never move forward until I’m 100% happy with what I have just finished.
I always keep the image in my ‘sight’ of how I expect my finished quilt to look.
Some will say things like...
“But it’s easy for you, as you know more than us?”
But No-that’s not the case as often when you enter quilts within the show circuit it can be harder, as you’ll often really stretch yourself way past the normal. I often use very simple techniques but take them to the ‘extreme’ to achieve the results I’m looking for, and yes I have many things that I may have to redo.
When I’m doing my exhibition quilts, I will work within a particular area at
a time, and once I’ve finished that area, let’s say its appliqué, then I do not move forward to start another area until I’m completely and totally happy with the result. That could be how I’ve stitched my points, the blend of fabrics, the size of a particular rose bud in comparison the one beside it, etc.
The appliqué technique that I use allows me total freedom to change things
until I’m happy. It’s only then, that I’ll stitch my pieces onto my fabric.Then I’ll move onto the next section of my quilt.
This same rule applies to every part of my quilts, whether it may be my fabric choosing, the creation of my pieces, my appliqué, my trapunto, my quilting, etc.
I always then know that when my quilt is finished I’ll be 100% totally
happy with the finished result. If you’re not quite happy with something that
you’ve done, but move forward any way, that piece will always stand out to you, and you’ll never be fully happy with your finished quilt. Without realising it, every little thing that you’re not quite happy with, even the most trivial thing will start to unconsciously eat away at your creativeness, enthusiasm, enjoyment and before you know it, you’ll have lost interest in the quilt as you know it’s not going to look the way that you envisioned it to be. You’ll also feel that your quilt making is not as good as someone else’s... that’s not the case.
It’s the little things that can make the biggest differences to the finished result.
If it takes me another few days, weeks or months to get the result that
I’m looking for in that particular area, then so be it. It may be colour, it may be design, it may be placement, it may be stitching, but most possibly it’ll be balance. Sometimes something that took me let’s say 10 mins to do, could take me days
Let me show you a couple of things that happened here within two of my
major quilts that then went on to win many awards and be up in the running with the other seven Australian individual State show winners for Best of Australia.
This first one here is an issue that happened after I’d taken my trapunto
work to an absolute extreme, yes, I take many things beyond the normal.
This happened to me after I’d spent approx 2 years making this quilt and I was then somewhere in the middle of quilting this quilt, when because of the extremity of my incredible thick trapunto work, it created this huge bubble of fabric during the quilting stage. Think of it like a big air pocket, but I couldn’t just pop it with a pin and it disappears.
I won’t go into it here how I fixed that, but I tediously worked at that for
many days and many hours. The before and after images, show it all. Almost 3 years after starting this quilt, it was finished and I only work on one quilt at a time.
Then there was when I stitched around my very thick trapunto once again
on these tree trunks and it looked really awful. It was incredibly dense and once again the quilt was so close to being finished. Less than 30 mins to stitch it, but took me two weeks to tediously undo this stitching as it was very thick & dense and I also didn’t know if the fabric would be damaged. I could have ignored it, but I would always not have been happy with the result and it possibly wouldn’t have gone on to win the many awards it did.
I could have easily just said... I’m over this, let’s put it in a corner... forever,
but No, that’s not my nature to do that. If I had done that, these two quilts would not have won the awards they have, plus many people would have missed out on seeing & learning from these quilts.
I know these are rather major things, but have a look at the quilting on the
back of this basket. Yes, every little square was quilted, separately, and every square as with all my quilting, I tie my quilting threads together at the start and finish of every piece and section of quilting... I did that to every little square within the basket, by ditching the inside of the fabric basket weaves that I'd created by using strips of fabric.Four thread tails to each square to be tied, two together at a time, and then threaded into a needle and run into the fabric.
So do spend an extra ten minutes undoing a slightly crooked stitch, or a point that’s not quite pointy, etc so that at the end of making your quilt you’ll be 100% totally happy with your finished result. You’ll become a master just like Monet if you always follow my simple rule of...
I do not move forward unless I’m 100% happy with what I’ve just done.
Remember there is never such a thing as a mistake, everything we do is
always a lesson in learning and this is how we grow within ourselves & our lives.
I’ll leave you all here today,
and as usual I’ll be back again same time, same place next week with
something else to help you grow within your personal creative journey.
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Have the most beautiful, creative & inspiring week
and I’ll be back again before you know it.