Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Mistakes

“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down.”     - Mary Pickford


I'm like everyone else.  I hate mistakes!  I hate them when I make them, when my son makes them, when my husband makes them, heck, I hate them when anyone makes them!

Mistakes are a real pain and it's easy enough to get really upset with yourself when you make one.  Perfection is impossible to maintain, and frankly it's not very open to creativity.  So, if you want to be a creative quilter then you have to be able to deal with the dark side of creativity....mistakes!

While I was working on my Tufted Tweets quilt I made 3 different mistakes in the piecing and cutting;

1) I cut one of the sides of a block at the seamline not the cutting line. So, I had to recut all the pieces and remake the block.
2)  I stitched one piece to another with its' right side out.  Duh!
3) I used a long strip where I should have used a shorter one, and ended up having to cut another piece Double Duh!

These are the more major of the many minor boo boos I made, and that's just in putting together a 24" x 16" quilt top.  Can you imagine how many I would make on a full sized quilt?  Now you know why I don't make them anymore.  Frankly, just the thought of it gives me a massive headache!

My point is that I've been quilting since the early 70s and I made that many mistakes on a simple piecing project.  I'm very cautious and try very hard to make sure that I'm doing things correctly, but even I screw up, and on a fairly regular basis.

However, just because I made a mistake it doesn't mean that I failed.  It also doesn't mean that I'm an idiot.  It just means that whenever you do anything the risk is there that you won't do it perfectly.  Big Whoop!

All I can say is that if I quit quilting based on my mistakes I wouldn't have finished one piece.  I probably would have given up in 1975.

That's what I love about the quote from Mary Pickford shown above.  Failure isn't based on your mistakes, it's based on your inability to rise above them.  So what, you made a mistake, fix it and move on.  If you give up because something's too hard then you'll never conquer it, and in so doing prove to yourself that you really can do it after all.

I grew up in a house where there was a lot of music.  My brother played piano and would practice for hours, the same piece, over and over again.  In the beginning there were tons of mistakes, with lots of cringeing from the rest of the family.  But then, as he worked through the piece, he conquered the mistakes, one by one, and after hours and hours of practice he could play the piece perfectly, (until he made a mistake).

It's the same with quilting, we spend years practicing and honing our skills.  We figure out how to fix our mistakes and avoid them in the future.  We read books, attend classes, and talk to other quilters.  We amass tips and techniques, and all the while on a steady basis, we continue to make mistakes.  I would bet you that if you asked any highly regarded celebrity quilter, (who was honest), if they still made simple mistakes, they'd laugh and say, "everyday!" 

I love the old saying that if you aren't making mistakes then you aren't trying hard enough.  So, go out there and make some quilting mistakes today, fix them, move on, and make some more! 

Feel the fear, but don't pay any attention to it...it stinks!

Susan




 

3 comments:

Stray Stitches said...

I try to learn from my mistakes and a lot of those times it's my fingers telling me that I a) not paying attention b) that I didn't follow the instructions correctly or c) that I was too tired to be working. I try to listen and learn.

Nana B said...

And of course the sooner I need something to be done the more mistakes I make! But things get done and no one but me and everyone I complain to know about the trials & tribulations involved in making that quilt.

Nana B said...

And of course the sooner I need something to be done the more mistakes I make! But things get done and no one but me and everyone I complain to know about the trials & tribulations involved in making that quilt.