Monday, April 21, 2014

Moving forward - another missive and musing (and a flimsy!)



: changing place or position
: having a strong emotional effect : causing feelings of sadness or sympathy
: relating to the activity or process of moving to a different place to live or work

Definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Funny, isn't it, how the word "moving" has so much meaning when it comes to quilting?

We have to MOVE in order to quilt. 

You start with the germ of an idea and it begins to move around in your imagination. You then make the decision to move on and put the idea on paper or the software program of choice.

From there you move on to other decisions: fabrics, techniques, more design changes, and sometimes you are moved to NOT make it at all.

But something inside of you says, "I want to make it!" And you are then moved to proceed.

Sometimes we are moved by someone else's project and it compels us to act, either by making a project (not necessarily the same one) or by commenting on it (and always keeping it kind).

But oftentimes something stops you from moving--most of the time it is fear. Fear is an emotion that can literally freeze you up and stop you from moving at all.

When I owned a quilt shop, I quickly learned that some customers would freeze up when choosing fabrics for a project. Their fear? Making a mistake. They were so worried about the outcome and it not being PERFECT--the first time I heard that I was dumbfounded, but it became a common occurrence. 

To put those customers at ease, I would ask them if they dressed themselves that day. They would look at me funny and tell me that of course they had dressed themselves. And I would tell them that they did a great job in picking out colors that blended or complemented each other well. Sometimes that would be all the ticket they would need and they would make their choices.

Several years ago a friend mentioned a discussion at a guild meeting and the topic was about quilters making their own design and fabric choices and going their own way with their quilting. An area quilt shop owner and published author piped up and said, "But what if she's making a mistake?" My friend was brought to tears because she was so distressed over this person's belief that it was better to change someone else's vision of their quilt to make it perfect (in her eyes) than to allow someone to learn from their own processes. 

Early in my quilting life I took a class at the aforementioned person's quilt shop. She wasn't the teacher, but she came through the classroom while we were in progress. It was a feathered star class. She noted my fabric choices and said, "Interesting--you have this fabric in this part of the star, and that fabric in that part of the star." I said, "Is there something wrong with it?" She said, "Oh, no; just interesting." I guess that was her subtle hint that in her mind it was wrong. I made no changes and I love that feathered star. Even if it is wonky. It'll quilt out. My Girlfriends said so.
Pay no mind to that wonkyness; it's been in the bottom of a Bin for years!
I know other quilters that would have completely frozen up because they wouldn't be able to get past the idea that they may not have made THE RIGHT CHOICE. They would have packed it up and gone home.

I'm not saying I have never asked for ideas on a project, especially when I'm stuck and not loving what I see on the design wall. I have asked for and appreciated the thoughts of my quilting buddies and while I have used some of their suggestions, I haven't always and that's okay! It's MY quilt, not theirs.

Which is what I always told my customers. It's your quilt, and you should please yourself. That one sentence empowered a lot of them and that made me very happy--especially when they would come back into the shop with their completed project. 

My dear friend Sharon taught me how just the act of moving can help you accomplish so much. She pieced 5 quilt tops at our Girl Gang retreat a couple of years ago. Her secret? She kept moving. Even while we were watching a movie in the classroom, she would keep moving--stitch a unit, get up, go to the ironing board, press, repeat. She was not a speed demon, but she kept moving steadily toward completing those quilts. I told her that week that she was my hero!

And now, that's what I do. I keep moving. I will go into the studio and start working on anything. Even though I want completed quilts, I believe as long as I'm working on something, anything, and constantly moving, eventually I'll have something to show for it. And that works for me.

Speaking of fear: I mentioned in my April goals post that I wanted to add a mitered border to a UFO that's been lurking for about 7 years. I did experience fear over this idea because in over 20 years of quilting, I have never mitered a border! But I took my time last weekend and did it--and I couldn't be happier:

When I train staff at work on a new procedure or updated one, I always tell them to ask me any question and that there's no such thing as a dumb question in our line of work. Sometimes it's not a question they ask but a rant about the changes to their daily routine. I always interrupt their soliloquy and say, "MOVING FORWARD..."

Sometimes you don't feel like moving. I know sometimes you feel like you can barely drag yourself into your sewing area and do nothing but sit there because you're too overwhelmed by whatever the distraction du jour may be. Fondle your fabric. Look through a quilting magazine. Check out Pinterest. Just the act of doing will help you get to a place where you can release the fear and move forward.

And remember: it's YOUR quilt and you only have to please yourself. 

So move forward! And go quilt!