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Novice or Seasoned: Mistakes Happen

I remember when I first started quilting years ago that I spent about as much time picking out stitches as I did putting them in. Not always, but some pieces just didn’t go together easily, or I could not wrap my mind around the pattern. Therefore, it happened quite a bit while I learned to follow patterns and make precise blocks with great points. Over time,

this need to unstitch happened less often. This is not to say that I never sew a seam or a block together in the wrong configuration or need to use a seam ripper. I DO–just not as often. I still get distracted or struggle with the wording in a pattern, and consequently, I put things together incorrectly or lose a point or two. It happens to all of us.

Case in point–I recently designed a table runner, wrote the pattern, and taught the class. I made two examples and had a friend test the pattern for me. I wanted to show my participants a scrappier version of the runner because they were mostly new to the process of piecing, and I wanted them to feel comfortable making design choices once they understood a pattern. So, I put together a bright, scrappy, springtime group of fabrics and set about making the pattern one more time. Then things beyond my control happened, and I became distracted. I needed to put the runner together quickly and move on. I did!

Fast forward to this week. I decided to quilt the runner and do some custom ruler work. I quilted the first block. I sent a picture to my friend. Then I sent a picture of the whole runner to my friend.

I noticed that I had made a crazy and obvious mistake in my piecing. I realized that no one had noticed or bothered to tell me if they did, but it was really bad. I was devastated. There was no way I was skinning that partially quilted runner to fix it, so I ripped out the strip that was turned the wrong way and hand-stitched it into the block correctly. It looked so much better. It worked! I was so proud that I even did a TikTok about it!

UNTIL–my husband noticed that three other units in each of the two matching blocks were also turned incorrectly when sewn. Now what? After much grousing and fussing at myself over my mistake, I decided that since both blocks now look the same I am leaving them!

I will keep my disaster of a runner, practice my custom quilting skills to complete it, and set a pretty centerpiece on it when on my table. It is mine after all, and all the mistakes are mine as well. The finished piece won’t be perfect, but I will love seeing the beautiful colors on my table.

So if you are new to quilting, or you get upset about small mistakes you make when sewing, remember that it happens to all of us. You have the power to remove stitches and sew again. You have the power to leave them. Do what works for you. Just be kind to yourself and enjoy your process.

There are a few lessons here for sure:

  • Always keep a sharp seam ripper in your possession and don’t worry if you have to use it.

  • There is no such thing as the perfect quilt, but many come out about as close as possible

  • Every quilt has a story or two.

  • If you enjoyed making it, you win.

May your stitches be straight, and your rippings be few. Happy stitches


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