Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Laws of the Land
I keep hearing about the "quilting police." I'm not sure who they are, but apparently they are very scary. I envision hooded figures in dark robes (quilted, of course) swooping in and torturing me for violating 1/4" seam rules and creating misshapen blocks. I was watching a quilting show and the women who seem so kind and grandmotherly said they "don't believe in" trimming blocks, that quilters should get their seams right to begin with so that the blocks are the correct size. I thought I detected the flash of a tin badge, but maybe it was just my guilt (or should that be skewed quilt?) clouding my vision.
I've been messing with these blocks for a couple of weeks now. Even though I said I wasn't really into traditional quilting patterns--that I preferred freeform quilts like the first one I did, so that's what I would go back to--there is something comforting about cutting strips of a certain size, seaming them, recutting, and fashioning blocks. I don't have to make design decisions beyond which fabric to use, and I know, with just a little thought, what the next step will be.
The problem is that I keep having to compensate for something--bad cutting? bad seams? and the more I try to compensate, the more my sizes are off. I now have 6 blocks that are each sized differently. I think they are supposed to be 12" square; most of them run between 11 & 11-3/4" (and not necessarily square). So the question is, what do I do with them? My intention was to piece 12" squares of black and the floral fabric in between these, but in order to do that I need to know how large to cut those squares. Which means I need to have consistently-sized blocks. Which means (gasp!) trimming my blocks to some consistent size.
I've put too much time and fabric into sewing up these blocks, and I can't bring myself to just toss them aside and not use them because they're flawed. What would the quilting police have me do with them, I wonder? Give them a proper burial and then punish myself with not only a feeling of failure, but guilt about wasting time and money? Sentence them to solitary confinement for eternity? Rip them apart and redo them until I get them right?
I fully expected that, as a beginner, I would have a lot of skills to acquire and that my work--especially pieced blocks like these, regardless of how simple they are--would leave a lot to be desired. But I think that hearing from experienced and highly-respected quilters that they don't "believe in" trimming blocks, that quilters should be better than that, may stifle beginners who are often too worried about perfection-- and failure-- to jump in and give something a try.
I'm going to trim my blocks, and they'll probably look a little wonky for it, but that's the price of being a beginner. I don't know whether that's thumbing my nose at the quilting police, since I haven't figured out the laws of the land yet. But I'm going to sleep with a light on, just in case.