I love quilting, I am not an expert, but I love free motion quilting. No matter how hard I try my stitching never turns out "perfect" or at least good enough for entry into a quilt show. I have won ribbons at the state fair but I've never been able to get my quilts into a big show. My stitches are never all the same size. I usually make a mistake or two while turning or stop and starting. I keep trying, and I keep getting better. It is time well spent.
I teach free motion quilting at our local quilt shop. Mostly I teach my students to have no fear of free motion quilting. Most quilting books will tell you that it takes a minimum of 10 hours of quilting to even start to get good at doing it or at least to gain enough confidence to continue. Practice, practice, practice, should be your chant! So I practice! I practice before I start working on a finished top. I practice on quilts for my friends and family. I practice on challenge quilts for The Quilting Project. I practice while I watch Leah Day's free motion quilting on youtube! I practice but it still is not perfect! Should it be?
I also do thread painting and it doesn't need to be perfect and I love that. So although thread painting isn't quilting it does give me another chance to practice guiding my needle and thread where I want it. But that brings me back to the question, "Does Free Motion Quilting need to be perfect?" I have a friend who has won ribbons for her perfect quilting and she quilts perfect quilt designs that are all drawn out and she stitches so slow that I would go to sleep if I tried sewing that slow! Her stitches are all the same size and if one stitch gets out of place she fixes it right then and there. I am just not that kind of quilter. My quilting designs are free flowing and although they are planned out they are not drawn out on the quilt, they are not perfect! Should they be?
The judges at quilt shows are looking for perfection. Something they can point at and say "that is the best". I was in a quilt show once where I won third place and another wonderful quilt won first place. When I asked where the second place winner was the judge told me that there wasn't one because none of them were second place quality! What does that mean????
I'll keep practicing because it is time well spent and I keep getting better with each new quilting project. Look out judges, here I come!