Sunday, April 10, 2016

Retreat hangover

I'm back again! After a month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand, I almost immediately packed up my bag and sewing machine for a quilting retreat. This is the third year in the row I've gone with my mom, a sewing and quilting pro and it's a great time filled with sewing and kindred spirits who are just has hooked on quilting.

Now a little warning: I'm gonna go a bit off course here and post some thoughts and no pictures. Cuz frankly I am so comfortable on the couch, my two kitties sitting next to me, that I just wanna type what's rolling around in my head and not bother with photos. Also, this is gonna be pretty honest. I'm not at all fishing for compliments or reassurances, I just want to share my feelings and thoughts because surely I'm not alone.

So back to my retreat ...

The timing probably wasn't the best since I went into it feeling pretty tired, but I started out pretty productive and feeling good. I finished the binding on two languishing WIPs and then dusted off my Tula Pink City Sampler book. I started those blocks back in spring 2014 and in about half a year got up to 70, but then didn't touch it for more than a year. In no time, I had them all done. What a great feeling! I don't know about you, but I always seem to be adding projects to my list and rarely crossing them off.

Then it was time for something fun and new. I ordered Alison Glass' new collection before heading off on my trip and it arrived at my doorstep before me. In love with the saturated colours, I knew I wanted to make another quilt as you go pillow - this one for me! I picked out the fabrics I wanted to use - predominantly pink, purple and teal - and jumped in, cutting strips and starting to quilt. Then I kept quilting. And quilting. The batting seemed immense, and I was getting seemingly nowhere covering it. I got really frustrated, but I forged ahead. I took a break for a dip in the pool and came back refreshed, for a bit. Then trudged off to bed and got back at it right away in the morning, soon hitting my frustration threshold. Ever have that feeling where you're doing something and it's not going like you planned and you get a sick feeling? Like you must be doing something wrong or missing something? Like maybe what you're doing is crazy, not admirable for sticking with it?

Long story short, it's not yet done. I was close. So close. But it was time to pack up the machine and head home, and I had to rip off a couple strips because one spot wasn't covered properly and I didn't like the placement of another. Thankfully the frustration and sick feeling subsided, but it got me to thinking. I couldn't come up with one thing I've made that I was 100 per cent satisfied with in the end. There is always something I'd change. There's a bunch of stuff I have been really happy with, but usually that pesky little phrase pops into my head "if only I'd ..."

I dunno. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it keeps us trying new things, pushing ourselves. Or maybe, as they say, we're our own worst critics. One lady at the retreat said to me in passing: "I never realized how insecure I was until I started quilting." So very true.

Chatting with the two women sewing at the table across from me (maybe they sensed my frustration), we agreed nobody looks as closely at what we make as we do. We agonize over fabrics, colours and placement while we're putting a quilt together, and when it's done focus in on the stuff we would have done differently. Other people, on the other hand, see the overall effect. They see the care and time and love that went into making it.

So I guess we all need to start looking at what we make with that perspective. And cut ourselves some sewing slack.


  1. This weekend I was working on something that I had put off because I wanted it to be perfect for the person I was giving it to. Often this need slows me down. Around the third time I ripped out a seam I thought hope this spot is not looked at closely. I keep hoping that the longer I sew the more I will be able to embrace the not so perfect nature of the result and be satisfied with what I have made. It is about the love.

    1. You're so right. Maybe some day I can look at this QAYG pillow and not see everything I'd do differently.