This post is to motivate everyone who just started out quilting or is unsure about their capabilities. Quilting is hard and some blocks and patterns will go badly. Usually, we as humans have a tendency to hide our mistakes and imperfections. However, when I started this blog I vowed not to do that. I do not want to create an image of a perfect quilter with impossible standards. I want to motivate people to try it for themselves. The best way to do that is to share the mistakes I make same as I share the work I’m proud of. This will show you that you can always turn a badly made block into a usable one or into a good laugh. Also, this post will show you that small mistakes are almost always negligible in the bigger project so there’s no reason to worry about them.
I don’t call my badly sewn blocks mistakes, but humble blocks, because they teach us we are not perfect, don’t need to be and that there’s always something left to learn. Feel free to adopt the title ‘humble blocks’ to approach your lesser work with a more generous attitude in the future.
All the blocks in this post are going to be used in my Dear Jane quilt. When I started that quilt I decided to make each Dear Jane quilt block only once so I can see my development as a quilter throughout the quilt.
Dear Jane quilt block M-3: Firewood flower
For a block with such a gorgeous name, it’s nearly impossible to make, or at least for me. The fabrics are really not suitable for sewing. Both fabrics fray like mad and are not the same thickness. This makes it difficult to work neatly, especially with the thin pieces this block has. The end result was supposed to be a square, but you can see that it didn’t turn out like that. This is my worst block so far, which is interesting because it’s actually the 77th block I finished. Also, it is made with Y-seams, which is a technique I usually love. Sometimes even a quilter doesn’t have her day. I like the pattern of the block though and it has a great name. I should make it again one day with better fabrics for a cushion. The pattern would make a nice cushion.
Dear Jane quilt block K-5: Passing through
This one I completely forgive myself for. It was my fourth block and also the first time I did needle turn applique. You can see it’s not a square, but that’s partly because I haven’t trimmed the seams yet. The main problem here is the fabric. The light green one is too thin and flimsy to sew with, especially in my inexperience. It stretches so easy that it makes sewing difficult. The block has a nice look though. It is quite elegant with the four squares and the diamond shapes. Maybe I’ll make this block again sometime, but bigger for a bag or so. I see that would work well.
Dear Jane quilt block D-12: Crossed swords
I’ve avoided working on this one for such a long time! I first wanted to use the Y-seam technique to sew the squares on the outsides but didn’t manage so threw the block in a drawer. Weeks later I pulled it out again and decided to needle turn applique the swords on the block. Not a perfect solution, but at least the block is finished now. The main problem is the messy points of the shapes. Does anybody have any good tips on how to make sharp points with needle turn applique? The only thing I can think of is reverse applique, but that’s avoiding a technique rather than improving my skills in it.
I like the name of the pattern and the look of the block though, so I forgive this block for being tricky. Also, I like this block because it reminds me of one of my best friends who loves knights and stuff.
Where do all these humble blocks leave me?
Well towards a more finished Dear Jane quilt! If you look at the picture on the top of this post you see two of the three humble blocks are sewn into it. And I have to say they don’t look bad at all in the bigger picture. And there is my argument of the introduction proven:
- You can make something good out of everything, even out of humble blocks in a Dear Jane quilt.
- Mistakes are never as big as you think they are put in a bigger context.
- Finished is almost always better than perfect.
I would encourage you to make your own post like this to reflect on your learning process and to stop beating yourself up when things are not going according to plan. Also, feel free to share some of your humble blocks in the comments section so we can all learn to take perfection of our blocks less seriously and have more fun quilting!
Writing all these Dear Jane quilt blog posts make me miss her though. Haven’t worked on her for three months now.
Would you like to know more?
Here are some Dear Jane articles about the techniques I mentioned and other Dear Jane related stuff you should check out.
- Dear Jane quilt introduction
- Dear Jane quilt applique techniques
- Dear Jane quilt Y-seams
- My Dear Jane deflowering: A-1: pinwheel gone awry