Sunday, 1 March 2015

There is no such thing as a mistake

A remark Bonnie Hunter made in her last Quilt Cam rang a few bells in my head.  She said that she wasn't too precious about points meeting and being perfect and would fudge if she could.  This is my way of thinking too - life is too short to agonise over perfect points and I am not concerned about the Quilt Police!

Many years ago I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by British quilter Dorothy Stapleton.  She has a wonderfully quirky style of quilting, some of them almost cartoons. She uses a lot of free motion machine writing on her quilts and makes scenes using small Log cabin blocks.  I bought her book called "Log Cabin Landscapes" and made the following wallhanging:

A French house set in a garden.
There are some great ideas in her books - I recommend them to you.
One of the things I remember Dorothy saying in her lecture was that "There is no such thing as a mistake - it's just a design opportunity".
I have never forgotten that sentence and have put it into practise so many times over the last few years.
If points don't meet ( for instance in pinwheels) cover "the mistake" with a button or an appliqued heart or flower or whatever fits in with the theme of the quilt.
Back in 1999 I made five single bed quilts for the 5 great nieces and nephews that I had then (lots more since!)
As I was quilting one of them I discovered my seam stitching had come apart in a couple of places. What to do?  The quilt contained various ladybird novelty prints so I fussy cut and fusible webbed a few ladybirds and dotted them around the quilt top, making sure two of them covered my poor seams. Then I hand blanket stitched them and my "mistakes" became attractive "design opportunities"!
The quilt has stood up to years of wear and tear and washing so the appliqued ladybirds did their job.
Another design opportunity came when I made a very colourful Log Cabin quilt for a friend's birthday.  Again, at the last moment I discovered a couple of shonky seams when I was hand quilting.  This time I appliqued hearts made from red fabrics and bound the whole quilt in the same red fabric.  Worked a treat and looked as though that had been my design from the very beginning.
Thinking about quilts I made years ago reminded me of a quilt I made back in June 2004. 
The Patchwork Group I have belonged to since 1997 had a challenge.  We  all made the same block in yellow and green fabrics of our choice (so long ago I can't remember how many blocks we made and swapped) but eventually we put them together with cream sashing.  I chose a cream background with gold Chinese looking writing.  A long time before text prints were invented.
I decided to add appliqued ivy leaves, creating the leaf templates by drawing round ivy leaves from my garden .  I also added large olive green buttons which came from my husband's aunt's sewing box.  She had died two years before so they were a reminder of her.
I called the quilt "Ties that Bind" which I felt was very apt at the time, as the quilt blocks bound together the members of the Patchwork Group along with memories of Aunty. Since then two of the ladies in my Patchwork Group have died, one quite recently, so the quilt is even more poignant.
Here it is:

And a close up of the hand quilting, ivy leaves and buttons:

Quilts are an amazing vehicle for memories and therefore very precious.


  1. I so agree that "mistakes" are just opportunities to be creative, and often make a project more interesting. Your ivy leaves look wonderful as cornerstones. I remember the time when text prints were really rare, That gold chinese fabric is really fun!!

  2. Sadly I used all the gold Chinese writing fabric up. I had a lot left over from this quilt and it appeared in many other quilts over the years. I'll have to trawl through my Flickr photos and see if I can spot any.