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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Moderating my Craftsy class has been so great! It's more than a class, it's a community. I love how people are sharing pictures of what they are up to, and encouraging each other. I also have the opportunity to answer questions, which I love! A question that comes up often is, "What is your stitch length?" or "What is you stitch regulator set at?" One time, when I replied with my normal answer, "I don't have a stitch regulator" One person asked back...."But, don't you care about your stitch length?". I sat back and thought for a moment...."Nope," I decided, "I don't care"

Let me be clear, I don’t want stitches that are going to fall out or stitches that are so uneven that it’s distracting, but honestly I don’t care if they are all the same length or not.

close up of quilting stitches

I feel that I was kind of fortunate to learn how to machine quilt the way I did, in a bubble. I didn’t know about blogs, or go to any classes. I just learned in my basement at my own pace (which, by the way, takes a lot longer!!). I would spend time quilting, and then go show it my Grandpa. He would, of course, praise everything I did (regardless of how horrendous it looked). I did know enough to know that if you were quilting a show quilt, then you needed it to be “perfect” and since I wasn’t entering shows, I was fine just having fun.

modern quilt

By the time, I discovered blogland and the awesomeness of show quilts, I was confident enough in my “thing” that I (mostly) didn’t try to compare myself to others. My quilting niche, in my opinion, is quilting for fun and enjoying the challenge, but not getting caught up in the “show quilting” mentality.

I just want to be clear, I love show quilts. I admire that many, many hours of work and dedication that goes into each and every masterpiece. I am also very glad that people do it, because I enjoy benefiting from being able to witness it.

During the taping of The Quilt Show, I had the opportunity to hang out with Sue McCarty. She is an award-winning show quilter, and her quilts have won 1st place and best of show, multiple times. She had brought along her newest show quilt, and it was spectacular. I mean…..blow-your-mind spectacular. There was so many beautiful, intricate details that you could look at it for days and still not see everything it had to offer.

But, here’s the kicker, it took her 850 hours to complete. 850 hours!!!! Amazing! I don’t think that I could spend 80 hours on a quilt…let alone 850 hours. I admire the persistence she has to fulfill such an amazing vision. (I think about a quilt like that in my house, with my kids, and am instantly scared!)

As we were on the set, I stared at that quilt. I looked down at my quilts and quilting, and wished that I didn’t have to go on after her. I even felt it necessary to explain to Alex Anderson that I want to make quilting fun and accessible to everyone. Just in case she was wondering how I had even made it on to the show in the first place. Insecurity is not a lovely feeling…..

Jacquie and I discussed this later, and she reminded me what was most important….don’t you just love friends who know the right things to say?? I still don’t care about stitch length and I still believe that my “quilting thing” is having fun and enjoying the process. That’s not to say that I won’t enter a quilt show ever….I probably will. But I will always remember that it isn’t my thing!

You know, I tell you all of this for two reasons. First, be true to yourself and what you do. That is much easier said than done, isn’t it. Secondly, it’s important to know that everyone has self-doubt at one time or another, especially in the a creative industry like this. Use that doubt to clarify what you are doing and why you are doing it!

8 Comments on Comparison is the Thief of Joy

  1. I tell people I don’t do quilting that will win a blue ribbon, but there are other quilters around that can do it for them. Most people know their quilt doesn’t need the fancy quilting and are happy with less than perfect quilting. They are glad when they don’t have to wait so long to get their quilts finished.

  2. Thanks Angela! I have a Mother In Law who is all too ready to point out my inconsistencies, which takes the shine off what would otherwise be a feeling of great accomplishment. I shall just remember your mantra…!

  3. Thanks Angela for those warm-hearted words…it’s words like these that keep me grounded on my quilting journey to what I love most and that is the process of sharing my creativity through thread and fabric.

  4. Your quilts would win an award in an instant – they are so fabulous!

  5. Judy Waddell // December 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm // Reply

    Let me also add my thank you to you. I just finished free handing a small quilt on my Handiquilter for a lady. It was hand embroidered squares that she had been working on for several years. Most of the quilters in our area use the stipling technique. I had so much fun quilting patterns similar to what you do. I just kept thinking, “just have fun”. I am so pleased with the result. Thanks for you influence and inspiration!

  6. Pamela Schenck // December 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm // Reply

    This is such an encouraging blog. I’m always looking at other quilts and wishing I could do this or that and beating myself up with self talk that I’m not an artist, I can’t ever do that, my quilting is average or below. It’s a reminder that the people I quilt for love what I can do on their quilts and I should be happy with that. But it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to stretch my brain and skills day to day.

  7. Oh, Andrea, and here I was intimidated by your quilting style! But, yes, you are right, we all have different niches to fill in the quilting world, don’t we. While Sue McCarty may make an absolutely stunning ‘apple’, you do absolutely fantastic ‘oranges’! And we can’t compare the two, can we. So now I will practice, practice, practice some more and try to make the best ‘blueberries’ I can.

  8. Thank you Angela, for reminding me of this! I can’t be all things to all people in life, and with quilting, I can’t be the best at all types of quilting. You have reminded me to stay focused on the niche I enjoy. Be the best I can be in that area, and let someone else be the best at the quilt the styles they enjoy.

I love comments!