I love quilting, I am not an expert, but I love free motion quilting. No matter how hard I try my stitching never turns out "perfect" or at least good enough for entry into a quilt show. I have won ribbons at the state fair but I've never been able to get my quilts into a big show. My stitches are never all the same size. I usually make a mistake or two while turning or stop and starting. I keep trying, and I keep getting better. It is time well spent.

  I teach free motion quilting at our local quilt shop. Mostly I teach my students to have no fear of free motion quilting. Most quilting books will tell you that it takes a minimum of 10 hours of quilting to even start to get good at doing it or at least to gain enough confidence to continue. Practice, practice, practice, should be your chant! So I practice! I practice before I start working on a finished top. I practice on quilts for my friends and family. I practice on challenge quilts for The Quilting Project. I practice while I watch Leah Day's free motion quilting on youtube! I practice but it still is not perfect! Should it be?

  I also do thread painting and it doesn't need to be perfect and I love that. So although thread painting isn't quilting it does give me another chance to practice guiding my needle and thread where I want it. But that brings me back to the question, "Does Free Motion Quilting need to be perfect?" I have a friend who has won ribbons for her perfect quilting and she quilts perfect quilt designs that are all drawn out and she stitches so slow that I would go to sleep if I tried sewing that slow! Her stitches are all the same size and if one stitch gets out of place she fixes it right then and there. I am just not that kind of quilter. My quilting designs are free flowing and although they are planned out they are not drawn out on the quilt, they are not perfect! Should they be? 

  The judges at quilt shows are looking for perfection. Something they can point at and say "that is the best". I was in a quilt show once where I won third place and another wonderful quilt won first place. When I asked where the second place winner was the judge told me that there wasn't one because none of them were second place quality! What does that mean???? 

  I'll keep practicing because it is time well spent and I keep getting better with each new quilting project. Look out judges, here I come!

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Comment by Riana Noyes on July 12, 2013 at 8:52am

Lynn, l'm in the same boat as you. l keep practicing, get to a certain level, and , w/o a stich regulator, that's as good as it gets. l think if we want to really earn those ribbons, that we would have to put in the time/effort of that painstaking work your friend does. lt's that kind of effort that the judges must reward. lt wouldn't be fair to those who take 3 yr. to put together a true masterpiece if anyone plugging away for a week and doing their non-perfect effort could win ribbons. l'm also not interested in spending hours & hours on "perfection", but what we CAN get ribbons for is style/color/imaginative use of stitching and fabric, such as "people's choice". l say, do your best, and enter in the appropriate category. Folks will love looking at your creations. Your work deserves to be seen and admired. Many of the most beautiful quilts l've loved at shows were far from perfect, but had a charmnof their own. lt's not all about the ribbons, it's about your expression and imagination!

Comment by Riana Noyes on July 12, 2013 at 8:42am

Lynn,many yrs. ago, l entered a quilt in a rural fair,and got a "third". Mine was the ONLY entrant in that class ( hand quilted pieced full-sized). Upon my query, the sage judge explained that just because it's the "only " entry, doesn't mean it automatically gets a first. They have standards, even at small rural level. My quilt had been machine bound, and that's why l got knocked back.So maybe your quilt was of "third" quality, but no one was good enough to get the "second".                                                      

Comment by sue brigle on July 4, 2013 at 10:46am

thread painting always looks so beautiful, but it also looks exhausting!!   I can't begin to imagine how to do that.  My "talents" are few and very limited, but I still enjoy quilting and looking at all the lovely things other people are able to do.

Comment by sue brigle on July 2, 2013 at 4:42pm

Ummmmmmmmmm......................how CAN there be a third place w/o a second place??   Sometimes I think the judges are just on a power trip.   But then again, I would never want to try to judge a quilt show.

Comment by Karen Lightman on July 2, 2013 at 6:06am

I'm pretty sure I'll never make it to the big leagues either! I'm not sure it'd be fun if I drew things out and stopped for every mistake. It'd be closer to perfect but not fun. 

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