I am a perfectionist.
Sometimes people say things to me like “Wow, you’re good at everything!”
This is, of course, not true. There are plenty of things that I’m not good at, drawing for one, I just don’t do them in front of other people. I don’t like not being good at something, so I avoid it.
This can be particularly problematic when I’m learning something new. For most things, it is very difficult to be perfect at them while learning, yet it’s really painful for me to be bad at something. I remember at the age of 5 or 6 when I was learning to play piano and got really mad because I had to play a “stupid” song, CBA. (It was literally composed only of the notes C, B, and A and had 13 notes total.) Somehow in my mind I was going to begin with complex Bach concertos like I had heard my mom and grandmother play. I still can’t play piano, but I remember the CBA song to this day.
So when a friend offered to help me learn to quilt, I warned her. I told her about how I considered taking a class from a now defunct local quilt shop, but decided not to because their sample had corners that didn’t line up. I tried to warn her, but I don’t know that anything really could have prepared her for the reality.
First, we started cutting out the pieces.
This soon became a problem because the fabrics I chose were large jungle animal prints and I really didn’t want any animals to be decapitated. Also, some of the fabrics were printed slightly off-grain, and I was freaking out about the lines being straight. After 4 hours of cutting out just the large blocks, I’m pretty sure my poor friend wanted to kill me.
We started sewing, and she had to witness my worries about whether being off by a width of literally 2 threads was going to ruin the quilt. (It won’t.)
Part of the problem here is that I don’t have a frame of reference for what matters in quilting like I do in knitting. When a customer comes into the LYS where I work for help picking up a dropped stitch, they are often worried about the wonky tension that results. I can tell them not to worry – it will come out in the blocking. If they don’t believe me, I can even help them tug at the stitches with a darning needle to even them out then and there. With quilting I have no idea.
Luckily my friend is very patient! After my finicky and slow sewing, and a lot of help, I finally finished my very first quilt top.
Upon completing I looked at it and said “Well, I think it’s pretty good for a first quilt.” According to my friend, it’s actually good for a quilt in general. I’m still confident that my next one will be better.