Monday, January 25, 2010

Inspector #5

Do you make things for other people? Do you worry about them being perfect? I do. Though I love working freely without the encumbrances of other people's rules, I'm pretty strict with myself. If I didn't work on it every day I'd be paralyzed by perfection.

As I was packaging my neighborhood quilts to send to their new owners I noticed a flaw in one of the quilts. It was a roofing problem, shoddy construction, and definitely a lax general contractor. I would have been mortified if that quilt had arrived at its destination with a leaky roof. The future owner was gracious as could be, but I was still beside myself. My brain jumped to dark places about other quilts.

I think I've said this before that there is a fine line between wonky and wacked out. I want my quilts, if they are wonky to be that way purposefully. Does that make any sense at all? Cutting with scissors or without a ruler creates wavier seams, but they shouldn't fall apart.

I also know that part of the beauty of the handmade is its imperfection, the touch of the hand.

Where am I going with this?

I don't want to subject myself to the quilt police, maybe a kindly, inspector #5 is what i need?


On a happier note. The first meeting of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild took place on Saturday morning. These are my MQG peeps. 34 of us and growing. It's a good thing! If you'd like to see if there is a group in your city, go here. If not, why not start one.

One more thing for your Monday. Beth, my friend at Modern Jax is auctioning some gorgeous quilts and tree skirts to benefit Haiti. The need in Haiti will be long term. My hope is that this disaster may be the catalyst to development and stability for the people of Haiti. With the help of my blog friends, I donated $1,100 to the American Red Cross today. I know it's just a drop in the bucket, but a bunch of drops adds up to a flood of help.

I forgot to say, thanks for all the kind words about 'feeling blue' and my sew connected quilt. I appreciate each and every comment.

34 comments:

Francy said...

I too am afraid I have boo boos slip by on some of the stuff I make. But we do what we can and move on.

Congrats on the great donation. No amount is too small as every penny helps.

Dorothee said...

I worry about perfection all the time as well. Strangely enough, I am a lazy perfectionist who tends to look for short-cuts and process optimization ...

And when I give away quilts, they come with a life-time warranty (my life, not the quilt's) and the promise that I will mend. That way, I can put my mind to rest.

Jackie said...

As a longarm quilter, I am always concerned about returning my customers quilts to them in a state of perfection. If I think anything is wrong, it gets fixed on the spot. But you also must remember that we are our own worst critics.

True Blue Nana said...

I would have to say if I aimed for perfection I would be frozen with fear. One of the reasons I was attracted to liberated quilting was that you did not have to be perfect. I do try to deal with major mistakes, like tucks where there should not be one and wrinkles on the backs of my quilts. When I go to quilt shows I am sometimes surprised at what others let slip by.

Darlene said...

Interesting that you wrote about perfection today. I just left a comment on another blog about this topic!

I think we all need to give up on the idea of perfection. I'm not saying we should do shoddy work, not at all. But if all the seams don't line up, and a block is sewn in upside down or backwards, will the world end?

Like Blue Nana, I'm attracted to liberated quilting because the focus isn't on perfection. It's about the creative process, about having fun, and not obsessing over whether the finished product is perfect. Trying to be perfect is limiting. Once you lose that idea that everything you do has to be perfect, it really frees up your creativity.

Beth said...

Thanks, Jacquie! I wish I lived in a more populated area -- I would be all over starting a modern quilting guild!

syko kajsa said...

Yes, I know what you mean! I make wonky and whimsical, but I find it so hard not to worry about every detail. And I many times wish that I could make stuff with loose threads hanging here and there.. And get angry with myself for setting up stupid rules. I know that people will not care (most likely) how the binding is sewn on the backside of a an art quilt that will be hanging on the wall. I always stitch it by hand with teeny weeny stitches anyway. Because I have to.

It is very important that you feel proud of your work and can stand behind it. But lets fight the inner quilt police together, ok!

Valerie said...

You are amazing, $1100 is a HUGE drop, you should be extremely proud of that.

You don't need an inspector 5, you are your own inpector 5 as evidenced by the fact that you caught that loose shingle before sending it out. Don't beat yourself up!

mjb said...

I worry about tucks and puckers in my quilting, and about gaps in sewing the binding or the corners of the binding looking funny. That's why I'm not quite ready to sell quilts yet - still in the practice phase. One quilt that I made recently had a hole in the piecing I discovered after the top was finished. I didn't pick it out, but I did carefully fix it with invisible hand stitches that I'm really hoping will stay.

Anina said...

I don't like making quilts for other people because I do drive myself crazy worrying about every little thing.
The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild is having its first meeting on February 20th! Very exciting!

Sequana said...

Here's what I worry about - laundering.

For specific reasons, I'm not able to launder my quilts before I send them out - either as gifts or charity. The charity ones have sometime been used as auction items.

I always imagine the first time they are laundered, they'll fall apart....:(

I include detailed instructions on how to best launder them with quilts for auctions or gifts. The ones that are given away are just on their own.

kpaints said...

Thanks for doing the quilts for Haiti, it inspired me to auction off one of my totes and I will be donating $92 to Red Cross. It is nothing like the donation you made, but as you said each little drop in the bucket adds up to a fuller bucket in the end. Thanks for inspiring so many!

Exuberant Color said...

No police, just an inspector!!!

There is a difference between liberated and "perfection" for most peope and that is in style (the way it looks). That doesn't mean the construction can be shoddy, just that the look is more relaxed. I think there are a lot of us (you and I included) that take pride in good workmanship even if the style is looser. I have caught little imperfections as I was ready to give things away too. It just reminds me to inspect every inch every time.

Your $1100 is a very big drop in the bucket. Good work!!!!

I Love Baby Quilts! said...

I don't worry about perfection, unless it's a commission quilt. People who are getting a gift should be happy no matter what! That's why I like doing commissions for people who aren't quilters. They'll never notice ;)

Cheryl Arkison said...

We are all our own worst critic.

Angela Walters said...

Aww...I think you are being too hard on yourself. But I totally understand. Like Cheryl said, we are our own worst enemy.

P. Mookie said...

My niece tells me that my "perfect" is a lot different from other people's perfect. I'm too hard on myself and am learning to let go. I totally understand what you are saying and feeling.

Your quilting looks great on the computer!

Diane said...

I think many of us go through the same thing, especially when giving away a piece of work or quilt we have done. I once did a baby quilt for a woman's newborn grandchild.I worked hard on it, and it truned out really well.It went up on the wall instead of wrapping around the baby. When the second baby was due, she asked me to make another one just as perfect as the first. I was struck with fear and I stressed out. Fortunately, the mother of this baby didn't want a quilt. I don't know why---maybe she didn't like the first? But I have to say I was relieved I wasn't making another one. You do good work, and we are all bound to slip up at times---we are human! Less than perfect keeps us humble.

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Oh boy do I know what you mean, that is why I do not join swaps where you need to "make" something for someone. I am a nervous wreck!!
What a fun looking group of gals!
and what a great "drop" in the bucket!!

BUMBLE BEANS said...

oh, i get that way to when I make stuff for others... I never think it's good enough... And I fret a lot about it...

As for the MOD Quilt guild, I am apart of the NYC group, and we have yet to have our first meeting... I am hosting a sewing day at my place to get the 8 kids donation blankets that everyone helped me make, bound. We'll see if it happens!
Haiti, yes indeed. Already donated $$, and I just donated the Pixie Dust Quilt, all my lovely bloggers helped make for me. It will be on crafthope for Haiti very soon.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/crafthope

Every little bit helps. thank you for mentioning and supporting a good cause!

Kathy said...

I was struggling with this a lot too ladies. I found some relief when I heard a lecture by Kaffe Fassett. He said, its a wonderful thing to show the work of the hand, otherwise it would look like it came from a machine and who wants that? If you are making mistakes it means that you are not afraid to try new things, to learn and to grow. Don't be ashamed of things you've made that are, as you say, less than perfect. Be proud that you were willing to take the risk and learned something new. The other thing that helped me a lot is that photos of quilts that look perfect are like models on the covers of glamour magazines, all the little imperfections are cleverly disguised. Think of it this way, would you be attracted to an uber perfect guy? Or would you rather luck out on the guy with the quirky smile, that little something thats not quite perfect which makes him that much more endearing?

Princess of The Golden Thread said...

Love the idea of your Modern Quilt Guild! I'm just about 60, and I get so tired of seeing old fashioned quilts, and poorly designed quilts. I love the new freshness of the fabrics and quilts you younger women make.

Love the final design of your white chocolate and aqua quilt too! Well done for perservering until you found something sensational.

sewtakeahike said...

that's AWESOME Jacquie!! I'm so excited for you that you were able to donate so much to the red cross from your quilt auction. you rock!

Sweet Baby Jamie said...

THat is one of my fears, sending off a quilt to a customer and having a mistake I didn't notice. I always kind of hold my breath when I send them off!! No complaines yet, thankfully!!

Donna said...

You may be the type who doesn't get too wound up about stuff you're making that anyone might buy if they like it enough. But commissions become a swirl of uncertainty. Is it exactly what they wanted? Will they love it? Will they love me? Will they discover I'm a complete fraud masquerading as an artist? Yikes. I commend anyone who does commission work. Your clients may not fully appreciate how hard the mental part of it is, but you deserve a medal.

KateKwiltz said...

It is my nightmare that my quilts will automatically start disintegrating right after they leave my house. I do what I can to prevent that, but I guess they're like children, and we have to learn to Let. Go.

I'm getting excited about the Chicago startup of MQG. Maybe you can be our guest speaker! :)

country mouse said...

Oh, I know how you feel about the flaws in a quilt. I am totally the same way. Everyone says I worry too much, but I just want what I've made to give its recipient joy for many years and flaws in construction make me nervous that it won't live up to my expectations of it. But, in all honesty, I think we worry far more about our quilts than those who recieve them, and they will be appreciated and loved perfect or flawed.

Janet said...

I truly identify with your struggle with perfection (competence and pride in workmanship). But I also enjoy your acceptance of what a handmade gift should be.

Stephanie D. said...

If we went back and tried to correct all our mistakes, we'd never learn anything new.

As for early work, that's what dated labels are for, right? So the recipient KNOWS they got an early work. Before you became famous and had your own showing

Elaine Adair said...

It appears we all worry about that same thing! I do my best and KNOW that somewhere along the line there are going to be a boo-boo of some sort. All the quilts I use are never washed, simply because I have so many! So I never know if the gifted ones are used, well-used, thrown to the dogs, etc.

The only real mistake I made that I KNOW of is that one time I sent a quilt to a child, and (my DH smokes) had forgotten to hang it outside for hours to freshen it up, so I wrote a letter of apology - and REALLY felt horrible!!! I know it did not smell good! 8-(((

Rene' said...

I am sure you are your own worst critic and notice "mistakes" that no one else would. Congratulations on your "drop in the bucket" that is "adding up to a flood of help". You are very generous.

Wow...34 members at your first Modern Quilt meeting. That is awesome. Orlando is having their first meeting March 3rd. Can't wait!

idreamofquilts said...

Wow, Jacquie! Look at that great group of ladies! You had as many people as we have regularly in LA! Yay for the Modern Quilt Guilds around the world!

- Latifah

amandajean said...

are you in the photo?

Carla said...

I am a total perfectionist, too, and I just started quilting (which I think is probably the fastest way to either get over it or go crazy.) I began with a quilt for my four year old son. My blocks didn't always line up properly and my binding is wonky, but when he asks me to cuddle up with him under "his blanket", it reminds me of why I sewed it in the first place!