All sewn up.

Dear friends,


I crossed the finish line earlier this week with my very first quilt stitched from beginning to end.

Strangely, it was both easier and harder than I expected.

Harder in that I made so many mistakes I lost my patience during the home stretch and exclaimed to Mr. Mom “I suck!”

Easier in that a friend’s mother, who is an award-winning quilter, was mightily impressed when she heard I did this on a $65 machine purchased at Wal-Mart without necessary tools like a walking foot and a quilting guide. Hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Still, the results were not spectacular (at least not up close) and I cringed at the many visible mistakes. So I’ve gone in search of a new sewing machine, one specifically made for quilting, which I will purchase as soon as I have time to drive to our state’s capitol for a visit to a recommended dealer.

By the way, wanna see the whole thing?


I bet you’re going to say it looks pretty good. And it does, as long as you don’t look too close. And I suppose the beautiful part is that nobody really examines a quilt up close except the quilter making it. I’ve been told by other quilters that all happy recipients can see is the love and care that went into it.

So I’ve got that going for me.

And the mother of the child — sweet little Audrey who turns 1 soon — now has a perfect “park quilt.” I wrote her a note saying it’s not too precious to lay in the dirt and I hope she’ll use it anywhere it’s needed. I also noted it will be handy if Audrey gets a tummy bug and my friend is worried about her barfing on the good bedding. I mean that with all seriousness.

I am a lot of things, but a perfectionist is not one of them. I prefer finishing imperfectly now over finishing perfectly later. I guess I have trouble deferring gratification, but it’s also reflective of a kind of fearless ambition that compels me to ignore the obstacles that frighten others. A friend once told me “I’ll say one thing about you, Joan. When you make up your mind, you’re all in.”  It made me chuckle at the time but, this week, I smiled knowing it’s the thing that’ll get me through many more challenges, including a second baby quilt I plan to stitch up for another friend very soon.

With gratitude {for the contradiction in character that allows me to be simultaneously assertive and amenable, which just might mean this girl’s found balance, though certainly not the perfect kind},

Joan, who was once told that the worst kind of perfectionist is one who claims she isn’t, a label she steadfastly resists and offers as proof the fact that she promptly mailed the quilt to her friend, flaws and all



  1. Ah…perfectionism. I am a recovering perfectionist and read with awe here about your fearless approach to finishing imperfectly sooner rather than potentially perfectly later (or as likely, never). The problem I have with delayed gratification is that I will defer, and defer…and defer…. So here I am expressing my gratitude to you and for you, for showing another easier way to be. Because I agree – with any such gifts the vision that presents is that of expressed love, not one attempted perfection. To have an adorably utilitarian quilt that is not “too good for” is a true gift of the first order. Dare I even say it? Perfect!

  2. Carolyn Blair says:

    Joan, I couldn’t believe Audrey was the happy recipient of your beautiful first quilt. A first quilt is the perfect gift for a first birthday. I was overwhelmed when I opened the wonderful, lovingly wrapped box. Audrey loves it. She played peek-a-boo for a while before dinner and now that she is a full fledged waver, her little hand sticks out and she waves while waiting the “boo.” It’s simply the best. Thank you, thank you.

  3. I’m totally impressed! I don’t have the patience for sewing on a machine. I’m hoping someday it will find me as I admire these kinds of crafts so much. It looks so lovely!

  4. I think the worst kind of perfectionist is the kind who never does anything because it won’t be done perfectly. I’m with you–do it perfectly or imperfectly, but GET IT DONE.

    P.S. I would never get done a quilt though. Way to go, you.

  5. Dear Fearless With Fabric (and All Else), I love it that you screamed “I suck!” in the home stretch, then locked your “Jalandhara Bandha” (yoga term) and raced to the finish line. Congratulations!

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