Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Crazy Quilting Temper Tantrum Moments... Do You Have Those?

I usually enjoy quilting, but every now and then I have my moments. Now I can honestly say that these moments are self induced.  I bring it on myself.

I am sure that you are sensing that this is some sort of lesson and it is, but it is a lesson that comes in the form of my crazy story with a twist.  I can't show you the finished product now, but over a year ago I was making a quilt with these lovely fabrics...

Kona Cotton Solids
Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton

I had decided to make the quilt to enter into a show and I only had a short period of time to complete it.  I had been dreaming of this quilt for some time, so I had high expectations of it.  I wanted it to look exactly the way I had it pictured in my head.  There was a lot going on at the time and things got down to the wire and I was staying up until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning trying to get the quilt completed.  It came down to the night before my quilt had to be submitted and I stopped and did a mental calculation of how much more I had to do versus how much time I had left and I came to the conclusion that it was not physically possible for me to get it completed on time.

Now, up until this point my level of frustration was getting higher and higher.  I was like a pressure cooker about to blow it's top.  I put too much pressure on myself to get it completed and I wanted it perfect.  As I was quilting, I was getting more and more frustrated with how it was turning out.  With every stitch I was noticing more flaws.  When I came to the realization that this was not going to get completed... I almost lost it.

I wanted to throw the quilt and possibly a few other things across the room.  I had decided that the quilt was a complete mess and since I wasn't going to reach my deadline, I was going to put it in the closet and it could sit there (in timeout) until I wasn't mad at it anymore.  I really liked the quilt top so I had come to the conclusion that I would wait and in 6 months, I would get it out and pull out EVERY stitch and requilt it.  This is kind of insane because I had quilted three quarters of the quilt and the stitching was very close, but what can I say, I was determined.  I wasn't kidding when I gave it 6 months.  I put it up and let the stress and frustration go.  

Close to 6 months later and after a move to another state, I decided once it was unpacked, I would look at it again.  I was dreading looking at that awful stitching.  With some serious apprehension, I unfolded the quilt and laid it out, examined it closely and decided that I had lost my mind.  There was nothing wrong with the stitching.  It looked perfectly fine.  All those imperfections that I remembered were not even there.  The reality of it was that I got mad and frustrated at 3:00 in the morning and out of complete exhaustion was imagining things.  I got myself worked up over nothing.

Ok, this is the most wordy post I have ever written, but stick with me... one more short story...

The other day I was sewing away and all of a sudden I realized that I was really angry.  Here I was doing something that I love and I should be enjoying myself.  Why then was I so mad all of a sudden?  (I was putting this little beauty in the picture below together and it is very stiff and can be difficult to maneuver around the sewing machine)

Fabric Basket

I came to the conclusion that...

1.  I was getting towards the end of my project and it was getting more and more difficult.  My project wasn't cooperating with me.  

2.  I was hungry.  My mother is a big Jurassic Park fan.  She always says that when I get hungry I go into raptor mode (as in Velociraptor).  Hungry = Cranky

3.  I hadn't stopped and had a break since I started.  I kept telling myself, "I will just complete this part and then take a break"... "well now I can finish this and then take a break" and so on and so on.  A vicious cycle.

4.  I had given myself a steep deadline.  I have a two year old who on that day was having "terrible two" moments all day long.  I decided I was going to finish my project before nap time was over.  Thus the reason why I was hungry, didn't take a break, and was plugging along with my difficult project trying to finish because I knew any minute someone was going to wake up.

Talk about putting some stress on what should have been a fun, relaxing moment.  I should have been joyously enjoying my quiet, "me" time that I could spend watching a Jane Austen movie and sewing.  I should have known better.

I know that some of you are cool as cucumber sewers who take your time and don't stress about a thing.  I on the other hand seem to have a pattern going.  I don't know if any of you put yourself in this position, but honestly until I thought about it, I didn't realize I was setting myself up for this stress and frustration.

(I am inserting a relaxing picture to offset all this talk about stress)

So what can we learn from my crazy moments?  These may seem obvious, but they were not obvious to me until I stopped and realized what I was doing.

1.  Don't set ridiculous deadlines!  Be realistic.
2.  Stop, take a break, eat, drink, be merry!  No raptor mode.
3.  Work for awhile and then stop, give your mind and hands a rest and then come back to it.  That way you can see your work realistically.
4.  Get some sleep!
5.  Don't be too critical of your work.  It's beautiful and creative.  Just take your time and do your best.

Hopefully my crazy moments and the lessons I have learned from them will help you... if any of you have crazy moments.

Here's to less crazy moments!  Cheers!


  1. great post candace, you're definitely not the only one that has quilting tantrums ��

  2. Hi! I want to see that quilt, please! That could have happened to me 10 or 20 years ago but not anymore. Living in Greece has teached to me that it's better not to make too hard program because usually it doesn't work. Our works has been so that one period there is lots of time and then for while no free time at all. That's why I haven't joined any swaps or hops and the Forest qal was my first. I made the quilt in time but during the last days I started to think if I have time to write a good post for that. I managed this time. I can sew very late at night if I know I don't need to wake up early. If I had children, I couldn't find time to quilt - I don't know how you do it! Take the time to rest - then you sew much better and anjoy it. If I haven't slept enough I get cranky, too.
    Hugs! x Teje

  3. Thank you! You have caused quite a brilliant lightbulb moment here! I am disabled with several medical conditions. As a result I tend to move from one craft to another throughout the day, changing crafts as my symptoms change. I did not realize that these days my crafting produces very little "in the moment stress". Yes, I still worry about handing out IOU's at Christmas...but I am not "at" any one thing long enough to build up stress! Hooray, I found a silver lining in my disability cloud! Thank you!

  4. I completely identify with your story! And I feel so much better now knowing I'm not the only one who does this. Here's to placing fewer demands and less pressure on ourselves. Peaceful quilting :)

  5. IMHO..deadlines are for newspapers and layer filings. perfect is not a human trait, lessons learned are valuable, especially when we take the time to figure them out. Managing our time is the best remedy for stress! Enjoyed your post and I enjoy reading as many words as it takes to get the message across. Have a great weekend!

  6. Well said. We all need to be reminded to keep it fun!

  7. Quilting IS my therapy - I do it to unwind from the stresses of the day, so when it becomes upsetting (like sewing paper piecing fabric on the wrong way, many times over!) I always just walk away. You are learning valuable lessons and will enjoy it so much more. Thanks for the great post - reminding us to HAVE FUN and not stress!

  8. I always put myself under crazy deadlines..I know exactly how you feel. very well said.

  9. Excellent reminder- stop for snacks!! My quilting mistake ratio triples after 10pm so i quit before I get mad. But I had to learn those lessons the hard way :D

  10. Great post. We've all been there and we all need the reminder. I myself never sew except for gifts, so I'm always against a deadline.

  11. Candace, love this post!!! I have a quilt in time out... I hand quilt and it is a wholecloth that came premarked ... but I have more quilting planned for it and am intimidated by all that quilting not being a masterpiece when I am done! lol It is sitting in my bedroom patiently waiting for me with the thread and needles nearby... meanwhile I am working on another quilt! lol Hopefully soon that quilt will see thread and less pin basting! thanks for inspiring me indirectly to get to work on it :) Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you share your time out quilt before you requilt it!

  12. Wonderful words of advise. Also, things you don't really like now you will love in 6 months or vice versa. I learned that when I was scrapbooking. Sometimes I would struggle over a layout and just leave it - now looking back over the pages I couldn't tell you which ones I didn't like. I love them all and they bring back such wonderful memories. Who cares if the right sticker wasn't there. Just like quilting. In 6 months or more, are you going to remember that the stitches should have looked this way or that way? No. (I love the raptor mode - I too am a cranky person without food.)

  13. I love this post and related to every word! I am actually on a "break" at this very moment eating popcorn so a nice wordy post was just what I needed. :)

  14. great post, Candace. you made me giggle with "putting your quilt in timeout." It is so hard sometimes to not impose unrealistic goals on ourselves and keep the joy in sewing.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  15. I totally relate to this! Thanks for being so candid :-)

  16. Loved the post Candace! Some weeks the only quilting time I get is late at night on my weekends. I war with wanting to get more done, and being too tired, thus thrusting me into "raptor" mode. This is a great reminder to go get that sleep I need so when I sew next I can enjoy it!

  17. Beautiful post! I can empathize completely!

  18. Determination can keep us from seeing the big picture sometimes! Great reminders, Candace! My husband always says that food is my medicine!LOL

  19. Wonderful post with super words of wisdom. I sew like you do and realize that I haven't eaten all day and I wonder why my head hurts and I am so grouchy! I need to make sure that I don't set too many goals for myself and that the ones I do set are realistic ones. Thank you for the reminder!

  20. so loved this post :) nice to know im not the only one who does this.

  21. Love your post and the hungry = cranky part reminded me of that candy bar commercial that winds up with the character turning back into 'himself' after he has the candy bar. Know the one I mean?

  22. When i'm quilting late at night or in a hurry, my rule of thumb is that if I mess up once I can stop and fix it. But if I mess up again, it's too late or I'm too tired or rushed and it's time to put it away and come back again later. Continuing past that point usually just makes more mistakes and makes it less fun. hard to remind yourself of those important points though!


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