Frustrated by Perfection

Oct 8, 2018

Dear Deb,

I am so frustrated right now.  I have taken each Ohio Star block apart at least three times. One point is off on each block and I am so upset about it.  What should I do? My friends and family say that the blocks look just fine!- one frustrated quilter


Dear Frustrated,

You sound so upset! I have to say we have all had those days! I am hoping that you find the joy that quilting can offer soon. I want to share a few ideas that will help you on your journey for all of your points to be preserved.

There are several things that will help you in achieving a pretty block with points that aren’t clipped off.  I often overlook basic things that huge factors in my sewing: Am I tired, hungry, sick, and ready for sewing without distractions?

The next thing is something that doesn’t even click with some quilters. How used is your rotary blade? A dull blade makes poor cuts and shifting fabric that doesn’t help in getting those sharp points. I am also here to tell you good lighting is a game changer for accurate cutting and sewing.

You also need to look at your seam allowance, once you know your pieces are cut out correctly. There are many tools on the market to help with accuracy like a quarter inch foot for your machine. I have also marked a quarter inch on my machine before with painter’s tape or a little stack of sticky notes!

I also encourage quilters to take the time to draw sewing lines when making half square triangles or hourglass blocks for stars and square up each unit before block assembly. It really helps keep your points! Plus, there are many ways to make stars, too. Once you rip it out several times, maybe looking for another method to construct the block would be less frustrating.  Use half square triangles and not a flying geese unit, for example.  Foundation paper piecing is a favorite for some for those super sharp points!

Above all, don’t let your joy get stolen because you are comparing your work to someone else’s or even comparing your work to a computer generated drawing! Quilting is an amazing craft made by human hands. Occasional imperfections are going to be present. The issue is looking at the difference between wanting to improve and do your best vs. being so hung up on perfectionism that you cannot make a block without mentally and literally tearing it apart.

So Frustrated, I hope that you try a few of these ideas and get fabulous points! Please don’t become so discouraged and frustrated that you lose heart! Remember some days or even projects, we just won’t have everything perfectly lined up because it is fabric after all!

Until we meet again, may your days be pieceful