Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for Quilters

The big question this time of year, is "What are your New Year's resolutions?"  When reading what one quilter said, it was something to the effect that she was going to finish all her unfinished projects. All I can say is:

Stop that kind of thinking right now!

In my first 10 years of being a quilter, I struggled to finish all those little blocks and projects that were learning exercises.  I spent hours finishing a hand stitched stained glass block!  And for what?  Just so I could say it was finished?  I was wasting my time, I could have been doing something else.

If you've been an artist or a quilter for quite a while, and a project isn't working, put it away. A very famous quilter once told me something that helps me when this occurs.  Caryl Bryer Fallert told me that "Not all projects were meant to be finished."  And with that little phrase she was so right.  Sometimes we need to try something, and if we don't like that technique, or it didn't turn out the way we had hoped, put it in an unmarked brown bag and drop it off at Goodwill.  Or put it in a white elephant exchange at your quilt guild.  You have still learned something from that project, even if it is just, "I"ll never do that again." Get it out of your life, and move on to something that makes you feel good. Or at the very least, cut it up, and sew it together in a different way.

Some projects are worth the struggle to completion. Workshop samples are not. Waaaay back at a time when I was making windows of my quilts, I made a yellow pieced background and scattered metallic scraps like confetti thrown up into the air.  The blocks were set in a cream and yellow decorator print that was very pricy, I hated to even cut into the fabric.  The finished top was such a disappointment to me, I brought it to my critique group, they agreed that it needed something, there was quite a discussion about trying this and that.  In the end, it was the above mentioned Caryl who looked at me and said, "You need to cut it up and set it together in a different way."  At the moment, the thought was too horrible to consider, but on my 1.5 hour drive home, I realized she was right.  My plan was formulated by the time I got to my front door; I would set the blocks in black. And wow.  It is a great quilt!  
Confetti Celebration, the finished quilt, (c) 1991
You will have to make your own resolutions, maybe they should be to work on projects that are important to you or to make the best use of your limited time.

In 1976 in America, we experienced a resurgence in the art of quilt making.  People were cleaning out their attics and finding old quilt tops everywhere. All I can say is, if you have your grandmother's flower garden quilt top neatly folded, in a box lined with tissue paper; there was a reason grandma didn't finish it.  She had already learned this lesson.

Throw some confetti up into the air, and don't vacuum it up!

Happy Quilting New Year,

Ann Fahl


Ruth said...

Thank you for yur insight. Your post today is just what I needed. I have been decluttering my sewing room and while I have accomplished much I have been hung up on bags of blocks left over (more truthfully left OUT) of quilts I made 8 to 10 years ago. I had set aside some to keep because there are so many of them that surely I can do something with them. After reading your post I am putting them in the box to pass along.
BTW I love your Confetti Celebration quilt.

annieQ said...

Congratulations to Ruth! Someone else can give them a good home. said...

I have some grandmother's flower garden blocks along with many pieces to be made into blocks from actual 30's fabrics from my great grandmother and I so LOVED your comment. They can age some more as I don't think I WANT to learn that lesson!!!