Begin with Joy

Finding a Pleasing Balance

– Posted in: Quilting

I am making a patchwork Christmas quilt. The pattern is “Piece by Piece”, designed by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr of Modern Quilt Studio located in Oak Park, Illinois.

This project requires that I cut and stitch together 1084 pieces from 47 different printed fabrics. This will take a while – probably 60 hours or so.

These 3 photos show several of the steps of this quilt project: the stacks of cut pieces, fabric pieces in line for sewing and sewn blocks placed on the design board.

quilt blocks

The design board is my favorite part of the process. Here I will combine and recombine the various blocks until I arrive at an arrangement of all these various fabric patterns that I find pleasing.

Essentially, my intention is to create a visual balance out of a vast array of clashing fabric patterns. And I have found that the more differences in color and design, the more interesting the overall patchwork. (Feel free to take a moment to reflect upon that idea.)


While I have not yet finished this arrangement, I’m not worried. I have come to trust my ability to arrive at a desirable outcome. When I was a quilting newbie, I would struggle to find the “perfect” combination. I self-imposed a lot of pressure and I never was completely satisfied with the final product.

And I carried that dissatisfaction with me. Mind you, the quilt was fine – usually pretty good. Yet my misplaced shame of not having made the “perfect” quilt would compel me to say as I gave it away, “It’s not great, but I hope you like it anyway.”

At some point, I began to understand that each quilt is unique. No two are ever exactly alike.

And I began to accept that there is no one absolute “perfect” arrangement. Rather, one can create many different combinations – all with merit.

So when I ditched the belief that I had to be that “perfect “quilter, I actually began to enjoy the process. I began to trust my own ability. I no longer set up that impossible goal of perfection. Now I consider many options and go with what I like best. It’s all about just trusting myself.

Now when I give a quilt away, there are no words of my personal inadequacies. Instead I say, “I enjoyed making this quilt for you.”

So as soon as I finish writing this post, I will return to arranging and rearranging those 1084 pieces of fabric with the intention of finding a pleasing balance – there will be no pressure, just joy.

Less self-imposed stress and more joy: now that’s a pleasing balance for each of us.