If extremism is something you identify with, as we talked about in this blog post ,then you may be familiar with its close relative– perfectionism. This is a series of posts that I want to talk about finding joy in creating and quilting. This is supposed to be a fun and relaxing hobby, right?!?!? I think there are subtle differences between the two words and thinking patterns of extremism and perfectionism. Extremism stops you because you think you don’t have something to quilt or create. Things like time, top of the line materials and fabrics. Perfection is a little different.
Perfection is more of how you view your work as you create or once it is done. It says that it isn’t good enough. You spend so much time doing everything the “right” way. In fact, you may be spending tons of time finding out what the “right” way is that you don’t even get to the making or creating part. Hours spent on the internet scouring tutorials and chatting on groups searching for the right and only way. You may find who is currently the authority on the topic and copy that method of creating.
Once a perfectionist gets started, they are under constant pressure. The seam isn’t straight enough. The colors chosen for the quilt are scrutinized each step and then if you make it to finishing the block every point and seam is examined as if under a microscope. Sometimes the block is ripped apart over and over because of things that are perceived as not being perfect. When you show your quilting friends they may answer that they don’t see what is so offensive. Sometimes perfectionists don’t even finish a block because it cannot be make in the most perfect way.
Next, the perfectionist may post the block online to have it publicly reviewed and even point out everything that is not right about the block and ask how to make it perfect. Many statements of how the colors weren’t right and how the points aren’t sharp may be made and then the ultimate thing is done. This block is compared to someone else’s work or even a computer rendering.
Now, I want to chat about perfection vs wanting to improve. Do you see the difference ? There is noting wrong with wanting to improve your skills as a creative. Practice that 1/4 inch seam allowance and wanting to find a way to make flying geese that you get good results. Where does it all go wrong?
When we lose our joy in creating and focus solely on the outcome. Not being pleased at all with it because it doesn’t achieve a perfect mark and the accolades of perfection from others is another way it can go wrong. We spend much time looking for perfect and comparing to perfect. It can lead to being critical and , ugh , the worst thing…. turning a person in to the Quilt Police. You know those people who say only one way is the way to make something , one look is acceptable, and then point out all those things that are seen as wrong in others quilts as well as their own work.
Don’t be like that at all. Take joy in the whole process. We are working with fabric here and occasionally there will be some wobbly seams and the occasional truncated point. I even have used the wrong fabric in a block and didn’t notice till the quilt was done! Or turned a block 180 degrees the wrong way. Quilting stitches may have issue etc, etc, etc.
Stop, drop and roll. Ok I learned that for encountering a fire when I was in school but it works here. Stop the negative talk to yourself and your best quilting friends. Drop the idea that if it isn’t perfect that it isn’t worthy. And roll with the punches–
sometimes a “mistake” has been some of my best design opportunities. Roll with it , you will be much happier.
Quilt on ,