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Looking Too Closely

I made a quilt awhile a go and when I finished I was so disgusted and frustrated with it I put it away somewhere I wouldn’t have to see it. Months later I pulled the quilt out and I couldn’t remember what was wrong with it. I was actually really impressed with my work.

What was my problem?

I find that when I make I spend most of my time inches away from what I’m making. I see my creation up close. Up close is where we see all the flaws and imperfections. Those seams that didn’t nest or the quilting where the stitch length is all over the place. I become to familiar with the imperfections I convince myself the imperfections are all anyone sees. Then when I show people my work and they celebrate it, I have a hard time believing them. Didn’t they notice all the imprecations and mistakes?

I made a discovery that totally changed how I look at my projects.

More than 10 years ago, the community college I was working at as a summer job in college hosted a quilt show. My mom worked at the college too and she and I walked through the show together. She bought me a beautiful purple mini quilt which I have treasured since that day.

As I became a more experienced quilter I approached that mini quilt again from a different perspective. I understood the process of quilting and I was curious. How was the quilt pieced? Was the quilt hand or machine quilted? Was the binding hand or machine sewn?

I made a discovery that shocked me. The maker machine quilted the mini using both staring line and free motion quilting. AND the thread tension on the free motion quilting is a way off.

Guess what? I owned that mini quilt for 10 years and never noticed.

Guess what else? I see that quilt every time I go to make, and I cannot see the tension problem from where I work. I enjoy that mini quilt even though it is not perfect. I enjoy that mini quilt even though it has an obvious mistake.

What is so special about me and what I make that I will not extend the same grace and acceptance to myself that I extend to others?

Nothing.

There is nothing so special about me that excludes me from from the kindness and generosity I extend to other.

Whenever I am tempted to label my work as not good enough, I look at that mini quilt and I remember the purpose of a quilt. To give warmth. To add beauty to the world. To allow myself creative expression.

Then I step back and look at it again.

Yeah, it’s good enough.

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