Do you ever get quilter’s block?

Do you ever get quilter’s block?

Two pieces of musical notes fabric fused together with two heats cut out…

Much as I love joining bees and swaps and challenges, it is an extraordinarily rare thing for me ever to make something for someone else or to link up with a challenge without being beset, sometimes immobilised, by doubt at some stage during the making process.

Just to clarify, this isn’t particularly about technical ability or the difficulty of physically constructing a piece – that would probably make more sense! I mean the whole ‘will they like it, won’t they like?’, ‘maybe this isn’t the exact colour someone asked for..’, ‘supposing everyone thinks it’s rubbish?’…

…and the hearts made into a butterfly.

So when I chanced upon the 5″ x 7″ Challenge hosted by Christina Fairley Erickson at Fibre Artist Journey I decided to join as a way of pushing myself to work more on fibre art pieces, which was my
main reason for starting quilting. I mentioned to Christina that the main obstacle I have is the idea that what I create won’t be good enough so, when I decided to join the challenge, I immediately thought one piece a week sounds like a big commitment. But actually literally making one piece a week isn’t really a problem – it’s making one piece a week that’s ‘good enough’! I always spend too much time thinking about what to make even though I know my best work evolves after I’ve plunged in and got started. So I’m committing to one piece a week however bad.

In response, Christina directed me to this post where she speaks about her design teacher who told the story of some students who were told to either:

1) make one piece of art for the semester, but have the quality be their focus


2) don’t worry about quality, the grade the second group was going to be based on quantity… make as much art as they can and show the result at the end of the semester.

Guess which group produced the best art and visit Christina’s post to check the answer!

Rationally, I know this makes sense and that, in any case, there is not a lot riding on this. If I make something that is truly horrible, my family will still eat tonight – and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. If I make something everyone hates or thinks is rubbish it really doesn’t matter.

But, despite all that rationality, it matters to me!

If you ever find yourself in the same boat, I’d really recommend this Ted Talk on genius by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat. Pray. Love.’ She discusses the pressure on modern writers/artists around feeling solely responsible for what they create and contrasts that with pre-renaissance conceptions where the daemon or genius was recognised as part of the creative process. My very favourite part of the talk is where she describes how she felt like abandoning the project and said aloud:

“Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. O.K. But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it. I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”

For the 5″ x 7″ Challenge this week, I made a wall hanging using fused fabric.

fused fabric valentines wall hanging

I didn’t have a lot of time and it’s by no means amazing but I agreed to make a piece a week. I turned up for my part of the deal and this is the result.

butterfly detail

For the rest of the year I’ll be turning up once a week and we’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, it will sometimes be good. No doubt it sometimes won’t be.

But the most important thing is: NO MORE QUILTER’S BLOCK!
Happy Sunday!
Janine @ Rainbow Hare

13 thoughts on “Do you ever get quilter’s block?

  1. nerospost

    Hi Janine! That is so beautiful – I love your idea, the butterfly, hearts and notes! I have just made a small curtain with notes and birds. Your thoughts are so true. I haven't joined any swap or bee because I just couldn't know what to make good enough. x Teje


  2. Patti

    I think you are so creative Janine! I certainly am paralyzed by self doubt most of the time, and only deadlines keep me (almost) moving on. So many times I wish I hadn't joined bees that require imagination!


  3. Celtic Thistle

    In answer to your question Janine -yes! I think it is a rare quilter who doesn't question her/himself when participating in a Bee or a swap. Having just had an email conversation with another quilter who has yet to receive blocks from 7 Bee members, and thinks she never will, I think your attitude of just diving in and making something is definitely the way to go. Worse than getting a block or swap item that isn't to your taste is not getting anything at all!


  4. LynCC

    Oh, this is super cool! I really love how you mounted the butterfly on the fabric piece its hearts were cut out of – seriously enhances the illusion of real fluttery flight. :D


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