Sunday, January 24, 2016

Celebrating Risk Not Success

So I had an idea that I would incorporate some bare-branch tree shapes in with the improvisational blocks I've been making. I sewed some yellow scraps together to use as a background, and using a rotary cutter, freehand cut a tree shape through the background. My intent was to piece in curved branches. But after stitching the first one, I realized that I was going to get a huge amount of distortion of the background, not to mention that it was now hard to get the pieced fabric to lie flat. By the time I added three more branches, I knew I would be in trouble and have a result with which I was less than happy.
So on to my second attempt. This time I made straight cuts for the branches. There was still a little distortion in the background, but far less than with the first attempt, and with a little trimming it came out to the size I had intended. I made a second one using the same method, and put them up on the design wall along with my improvisationally-pieced blocks and a couple of my windows. They are OK but not great. I liked the effect of the curved trees so much better and think I'll give it a third try, this time using appliqué to add the branches, not piecing. Or maybe I should just carry on with the stick trees and think about adding leaves to them to give them more life. Or maybe they'd look better on a grey background. Or maybe they should be in a straight line rather than staggered. 
The one thing I'm sure of, is that I need to keep trying, until something feels like it's working. This is the part of "process" that we don't always hear about - the part when we try one thing and then another and then another, in the hope that something we try will soon give the look we had in mind when we dreamed about making this particular quilt in the first place. Sometimes this takes quite a bit of time, not to mention courage and fortitude and patience. It would be easy to give up altogether. But it is a rare thing indeed for anything to turn out exactly as I anticipate, and if I give up trying I will never make anything I feel good about. So here's to risk! Celebrating success is wonderful, but here's to the risk-taking that preceded the success, to all the people who get out there and try, who do their very best, and even when their work falls short of their hopes, dust themselves off and give it another try.


  1. You've given me a great idea. You are so right. How often we try it this way. Or that way and the first ones become these little orphans we plan on using in other ways. Those first trials would make a good quilt of the process. Or fabric postcards. Or pot holders. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You're welcome, Suzanne. I'm hoping to write more about the process of creating in coming blogs. Seeing so many photos of beautiful completed works on the internet can be so daunting. To me at least. Knowing you're not alone in struggling to make something work is encouraging. So thanks for your comment.

  2. I've emailed you a photo of a suggested technique to try to create your effect. I always think of you when I see a fascinating tree shape - a legacy of your visit here!