Mistakes Happen: Done is better than perfect

Are you a perfectionist? This is something I fight a lot, but it’s funny. In some ways, I don’t really care how things turn out as long as they do. But in other things, I am so much a perfectionist that it paralyzes me. After all, if it’s not perfect, why do it? Quilting has taught me to be less a perfectionist because we all make mistakes. If a quilter tells you they have never made a mistake, don’t believe them. Whether it’s sewing a piece of fabric down the wrong way, cutting a wrong size, or miscalculating a measurement, mistakes happen. It’s what we do with these mistakes that counts.

we all make mistakes
The corners missed their marks, but when you look at the whole quilt, you don’t see the mistakes.

Several years ago, I heard the expression “done is better than perfect.” At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around that. But over time, I learned that this is so true. If you will only expect perfect quilts, you won’t make any. You may be afraid to even start a quilt. You won’t be satisfied with your attempts. You’ll find fault with every tiny error. And that’s be a shame because you will be deprived of the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes with a completed quilt.

I’m not saying chuck all your rules and feelings about creating out the window. I’m not saying don’t try to avoid mistakes. Of course we should. I measure and remeasure before cutting. And I still cut wrong sometimes. I reread patterns several times, and I still may misunderstand a step. I stitch fabric upside down or wrong side up and then have to rip the stitches out and start over. But if we do make a mistake, does it need to be fixed?

I make mistakes too!

Once I sewed a piece of fabric, wrong size facing out. I left it, because it actually blended in decently and only I knew it was wrong. Another time, I poked myself with a pin and didn’t notice blood drying on white fabric until the whole quilt top was just about finished. How did I fix it? I appliqued something over it and then added a few other appliques randomly along the top. No one ever knew.

I’m often told how some groups intentionally add mistakes to their work because only God is perfect. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I hate that thought. No one can make a perfect quilt. Surely they make at least one mistake unintentionally – it happens. To me, putting in an intentional mistake says that they believe they can make a perfect quilt and they must deliberately screw up. But, it’s an unpopular opinion. When I mentioned my thoughts to others, they got quite defensive on their behalf, saying that I misunderstood the approach. They may be right. This is definitely not something I’m an expert in. 

The best quilt is a finished quilt. You do your best, you create, and you finish it. You probable won’t make the same mistakes you made in one quilt again. That’s how this all works.

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