Let me start off by saying I have never been more compelled to share my thoughts than I am right now.
Yesterday, thanks to Google, I was informed of the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube. Fundamentally a simple thing, it’s brought enjoyment and frustration to thousands of people. Just like that, as it has so often done of late, inspiration struck. All I could think of was making a Rubik’s mini quilt. Like the cube, the quilt would be simple, comprising of six 3 x 3 grids made with coloured and black solids. What could be easier?
Today I woke ready to tackle what, in my mind, was a straightforward project. I could never have imagined the profound effect this session of patchwork who have on me. At first, things went to plan. I chain pieced some pieces, then pieced them to each other. The grid lines were a little off in places but I soldiered on, wanting to have the top ready for quilting this afternoon. After a while it became increasingly difficult to ignore the wailing voice of the perfection that lives inside my head.
“It’s suppose to be a Rubik’s Cube,” it said mockingly, “you can’t have anything less that perfection!”
I realised then that neither he nor I would be happy with what we currently had. I needed a change of plan. I grabbed some graph paper and began scribbling with a pencil and ruler. I’d paper piece it! The lines would be parallel and even my OCD would be pacified. No chance! Something wasn’t right, things were going wrong. I’d paper pieced quilt blocks a hundred times over before this. Why were so many things telling me this block shouldn’t not be made?
I didn’t listen. I was riled, angry at myself. Why couldn’t I do this? I thought, without any sense of ego, that I was an good quilter. Why was this seemingly simple thing proving so much of a challenge? I was embarrassed thinking myself undeserving of blog followers of the title of tutor. “Applique!” a voice yelled in my head. “Applique the coloured squares onto the black background.” That wasn’t a bad idea. I just needed to reach for my temporary fabric spray to secure the pieces. Oh no, I ran out of that didn’t I. Fusible web? Used the last of that ages ago! A dab of glue stick seemed to do the trick, until it came to stitching them down, when they started to move around like a embarrassing uncle at a wedding. Then, in a moment of utter frustration, I snapped, reaching for the rotary cutter and hacking into the two blocks I’d made. I wanted to cry, scream from the roof and banish my sewing machine to the bottom of the ocean in a chain-clad chest. “Such beautiful fabric shouldn’t belong to somebody who can’t even sew a simple block!” I yelled, feeling ashamed of my stash.
I’ve since calmed down, aided by coffee and a cathartic outpouring on Instagram. I really did question myself today about whether I was good enough. People’s words have been all together moving and inspiring. The creative community is always at hand to talk you down and offer reassurance. It’s a place where everyone can sympathise, empathise and despise collectively. We are there to remind each other that we are good, brilliant in fact, and that perfection is not what we strive for. Everything we do is flawed, and as one of my followers said, it’s that which makes it perfect.
I’ve learnt so much in the last few hours. I took the dog out, distancing myself from all things sewing. He ran in the grass while I touched trees and looked closer at nature. My mind began to clear like clouds in the sky until, just like that, the answer to my problem came to me. That quilter this morning was not me, and nor where those blocks. I’ve been quite vocal about my love for all things wonky and improvisational. I was going about it the wrong way. Trying to fit a square block into a triangular hole. What I make is a reflection of me and my personality. Just because Rubik’s cube is straight and even, it doesn’t mean mine has to be! Just like that, the weight of embarrassment and disappointment was lifted by acceptance of the type of quilter I am. Much like the solution to cube that started it, all I needed was patience and time.
I hope you can all take something from this very raw outpouring. When I began my journey here I never imagined I’d be sharing my failures. I thought the idea was to show, your successes, and hide all the bad stuff under the bed. We all make mistakes, and for me, not sharing this with you all would have been quite a big one. If you have a project that you’re struggling with, step away from it, take a day or two, and accept the fact that some projects just aren’t meant to be. You’ll be a better quilter for it. Rethink and rummage through your stash, because your next great project it waiting for you there.
Thanks for staying with me.