It is easy to forget for those of us that may have been quilting for years or even decades, that quilting is a learned skill. We do not come into this world with an inherent ability to pick up some needles and start quilting. So like any other learned skill, unless you are the Mozart of quilting you aren’t going to make perfect quilts from your very first stitch. There are those amongst us that strive for only perfection and of course this is fine. If you feel you have to restart your quilt whenever you make a mistake that is ok, but at the same time never think that your quilts have to be perfect in anyone’s eyes but your own. Quilting as a hobby is for the quilters enjoyment, and constantly getting frustrated over asymmetry or crooked lines is apt to make you want to throw the whole thing away.
If you seek advice when you first begin quilting you will be shown “the right way” of doing things by many experienced quilters and online sources. They may point out the flaws in your quilts and tell you ways you can fix them or improve your technique. Don’t get me wrong the sharing of knowledge and ideas can be a great thing and advice from experienced quilters is often welcome, but at the same time these first quilts you make are markers on the path to you becoming an experienced quilter. Some of these quilts may become your favourites over time due to their imperfections instead of in spite of them. Nothing says ‘made with love and effort’ like a gift that clearly has a few imperfections from hand making. Sometimes what some would call imperfections can even add to the overall appeal of the design. All this aside, if you are only going to keep perfect quilts as a beginner, you are going to do a lot of work most likely without a lot to show for it.
History of beautiful, imperfect quilts
In many cultures and design styles throughout the world, the concept of adding intentional imperfections is implemented. From the Japanese Wabi-sabi tradition, to Islamic art it is often considered more visually pleasing or symbolic to have intentional design flaws in a piece. In a few religious cultures imperfect design is used to be respectful to God, as only God can be perfect so designs should be flawed. This design technique can be seen in modern Amish quilting in the form of the humility block/spirit line.
Photos from pinterest: Wabi Sabi on Pinterest,
more examples on Pinterest more examples of Wabi Sabi.
So not only can accidental imperfections be fine to go on with in your quilting, many designers actively create these imperfections to add to the overall appeal to their pieces. This is something to keep in mind next time your triangles don’t line up perfectly on your latest quilt attempt. Simply breathe in deep, breathe out and think about the fact that it isn’t your job to create perfectly symmetrical quilts as the textile industry already has that covered. A beautiful quilt doesn’t have to be perfect, and a perfect quilt isn’t always beautiful.
Important note to take from this post especially if you are currently doing the Medallion quilt. Remember don’t dwell on any tiny mistakes just embrace the quilt as you go and enjoy. As you can see on ours the lines aren’t 100% perfect every time but we still think it looks even better than it would if it was perfect.
Click Here to Purchase the Mystery Medallion Quilt Blocks
P.s don’t forget this advice when sewing any quilt together!
Haha Amazing post! I am going to read it thoroughly and decide on the best way for implementing it.
Yes good to hear others feel the same. Sometimes it’s only the maker that sees the faults because we want it to be perfect.
Loved the article, none of us are perfect and we have to stop beating ourselves up over it, I was just on facebook and in a number of the groups I belong to when people are showing their work, the first thing they point out is the flaws or mistakes, Lets stop doing this, show our work it and be proud of it
Thank you for the article. While I have embraced this philosophy in my knitting, I’ve had a harder time doing the same with this quilt. I believe I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking with doing machine embroidery that it will be easier to be perfect, even though I know better. Still, it would make me happier to be able to get those beautiful satin stitches closer together. In my eyes, my own being off is glaring at this point, though probably wouldn’t be in a completed quilt. I guess that’s something else to consider.
Haha great post.! Can’t believe imperfect quilts can be beautiful. I am going to read it thoroughly and decide on the best way for implementing it.
Thanks for those comments on the need not to be too critical of your own work. I am not a perfectionist, and I will put up with little mistakes, sometimes things will not just fall into line. A great case in point for this is a quilt I made when I was a beginner……….I called it my ‘disaster’ quilt. The colours were garish and the points were most imperfect, but I had a fondness for it because it was a beginner quilt. However, some years down the track a young teenage boy came along and thought it was beautiful. He asked could he have, so I gave it to him knowing that he would love it. That is all I ask when I give away a quilt, that they are loved by the receiver.
This is why I love your site, you girls think along very similar lines to myself. Thank you for what you do! God bless. Lyn Housen, near Taree, NSW.
Hahahaha…. I am an expert Wabi-Sabi quilter! Thank you!
Exactly described. I have also made quilts with mistakes and wanted to throw them away. My hubby has prevented this, because only I see these mistakes. Some I gave away to friends and they love these blankets.
After I either make a quilt or paint a picture ,I always see the mistakes and cringe when some of my work is ood and aard over , Thank you for the story on mistakes and imperfections , it does make me feel a whole lot better