The Biggest Mistake Quilters Make

Do you ever get in a rut and think, “I just don’t want to make a __________ quilt again. What else is there?

I think if you lined up all my quilts from first to most recent, you would be able to tell when I got to that point. First there was the flowery, cutesy phase that honestly makes me want to puke now. Then bright colors on black backgrounds, muted colors throughout, rainbow quilts, bright colors on white backgrounds, geometric prints, literally using all the colors, and solids (where I am right now). And then there was the phase where I learned needle-turn appliqué and didn’t piece any quilts for almost a year.

Oh, and we can’t forget my grayscale phase. I’ll never forget the looks I got in an appliqué class when I started creating gray stems for my flowers. I’m pretty sure I heard one classmate ask another if I was color blind!

grayscale floral quilt

Beautiful Botanicals: That one time I combined my grayscale phase with my hand appliqué phase.

As creative as we quilters are, it’s sometimes hard to move on from a look or technique we’re enjoying.

And that the biggest mistake we make!!

It’s Not Creative to Do the Same Things Over & Over Again

Just like an Indiana pot roast, there’s something comforting about finding a groove in a look or technique you like and staying there a while. But that’s not creativity. If you’re like me, you’re using your quilting talent to express yourself. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing that until I finish a project, take a step back, and think, “That’s exactly my mood/life phase/social thinking right now.

You need to work outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You never know what kind of artist you can be until you make yourself really, really uncomfortable.

You never know what kind of artist you can be until you make yourself really, really uncomfortable. Click To Tweet

Doing New Things Makes You Grow & Growth Makes You Better

Even if I am making a quilt I’m going to give away and it’s based on the likes of whom I’m giving it to more than mine, I always try to learn something new with each and every project. Whether it’s a new way to use color or learning a new technique to see if it’s better than the way I’ve done it in the past, learning is what keeps me in the quilting game.

Only when I’ve been willing to admit I’m not an expert on a certain technique or color theory have I been able to push past my current boundary and really grow as a quilter. My use of color gets better and my quilting skills really improve.

Get Uncomfortable Today

Take a look at the projects you’re working on right now. If they all have something in common, make a promise to yourself to get uncomfortable today! Surf the web for inspiration. Take a nature walk. Heck – take an urban walk! Just get out there, see what the world around you has to offer, and take the leap to get uncomfortable.

What’s your rut right now? How have you gotten out of ruts in the past?

Quilt on,


6 Responses to The Biggest Mistake Quilters Make
  1. Roseanne Reply

    Hi Joni,
    Such a valid point! It is SO easy to stay nice and comfy in the known techniques. Trying something new not only allows you to grow but also keeps your mind young and able to solve new problems as they arise.
    ~smile~ Roseanne

    • Joni Reply

      What’s this “young” you speak of?! But seriously, I’m convinced quilting has a way of solving life’s problems. It’s amazing the issues I can solve if I let my mind wander while trimming half-square triangles or cutting for a new project.

  2. Sandra Walker Reply

    So true Joni! What often holds us back is fear, usually of failing. There’s a Japanese proverb in a novel I used to teach my grade 7 English classes: Fall down 7 times get up 8. Pretty powerful. There are so many facets to our craft! Something I love is combining them, for example appliqué on a pieced background!

    • Joni Reply

      Isn’t it crazy just how many valleys life has? I’m definitely good at falling down, but I’ll keep this in mind the next time I think I’m too tired to get back up!

  3. Maga Reply

    I stop myself from doing anything sewing related for 3 weeks and clean the house and do the garden – perhaps a paint job and during that I will come up with something I want to try. In fact I am usually desperate to get back behind the sewing machine even if it is just to tackle the basket with repair jobs. It also helps me to “allow” myself to do something I know somebody has told me is so not done or look at quilt or a sewing pattern somebody else have done and ask myself What If.

    • Joni Reply

      Wow. This really hit home for me. I’m definitely someone who tries to sew for 10 minutes every single day, so I don’t know that a three-week break would be doable. But I definitely see the value of turning creative focus to other activities in order to get my mojo back. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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