Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shadow of Doubt

I don't like to talk about this much. But here's the lonely truth. Whenever I make anything, it never fails, there's always a moment in the process when I'm overcome with feelings of doubt about the whole thing. Does it look right? Did I mess it up? Am I making a mistake? Why don't I love it? Should I just scrap the whole thing?

If you've stopped by here within the last week, you probably know that making this quilt left me questioning my decisions at least once. That orange sashing... I don't know... I was SO wobbly about it. And to be truthful, the struggle didn't start with the sashing. This quilt top has been a struggle from the get-go (way back here), and continued to be a struggle to the end.

When I started it, I told myself I wanted to make a quilt top that was beautifully different. I made it as part of a free class so I knew that many people were going to be making a similar one. I decided I was going to push the colour envelope to ensure that my quilt was unique. However, sticking to my weird colour scheme came at a price. All year long as I made my monthly blocks, every time I added a new one to the pile, I was uncertain about the mix of colours, I was uncertain about whether the blocks would complement one another, I was uncertain about whether I could even use them in the same quilt. Month after month I disliked the mix. All that colour!... It wasn't until I had completed the 20th - and last - block that it came together for me. Creating the matrix of blocks (the first photo in this post) was what turned me around. I love that matrix. In that picture, I see the cohesive beauty of these quilt blocks. That matrix makes me glad I stuck to my odd little colour scheme.

And now, since our discussion and since I've attached the purple sashing, I feel better about the whole quilt top. My fears over colour have pretty much evaporated. I have YOU to thank for that.

But all of this uncertainty? It leaves me feeling weary. I wish I was confident for once. Because the truth is, I'm not. I wish I could get through one project without feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. Or should I just accept that if I'm hell bent on taking creative risks (even small colourful ones), then uncertainty will necessarily follow? Is that the key to getting beyond the shadow of this obstinately persistent doubt?


Previous posts about this quilt here, hereherehereherehere, here.


  1. waw es impresionante me encanta esta tecnica !!
    un saludo

    Susi Agujas

  2. You need to make a studio doll for yourself. They're very good to talk to when you're having doubts. Or I'm a nutcase who talks to dolls. Whatever. It works. ;~)

  3. rsrsrsrs... Michele, nada se parece tanto com você como este trabalho! Está vivo, brilhante, alegre e...único! Parabéns!
    Um abraço!


  4. Hi, Michele,

    I think it's the making of choices, we know all the other roads not taken might be good, too. One of the things I did in my Izannah Walker doll class was to instruct people to make three dolls at once. That way, there is no trying to make ONE perfect. One way to give yourself some options of not having to make the perfect quilt is doing virtual quilts so you can see the design. Another way is to make smaller quilts. Then when you get a design you really love you can upsize. But the biggest thing is to see that in everything you do, even if it's not perfect, you are LEARNING. And there is great worth in that!

  5. Hi Michele,

    I'm new to your blog, i think i linked it to my google account only yesterday but can relate totally to your post. I am a creative person and have tried Sooooooo many things over the years but like you i'm a little lacking in the confident part and have always been a bit of a perfectionist especially when i had OCD following PND. So recently (last year i suspect) particularly just before Christmas i deceided i needed something i could do downstairs whilst keeping my hubby company so i went for knitting. I have knitted before but not for a very long time. I deceided this journey was to explore and to accept whatever came my way on that journey, mistakes and all, after all the 'imperfections' are what make most things 'unique' so i have knitted with assistance in the first instance, which mean't initially don't use that pattern, dont' use those needles just do this, under my belt i have a cowl, another followed smaller for my son, ankle warmers, wrist warmers, two hats, boot toppers and some bunting, only three things i followed a pattern for and then i digressed a little along the way. What i'm getting at is this, i've enjoyed the journey, i have a new appreciation for wool, knitting and am comfortable with my creative expression. They may not be 'perfect' but their my equivalent :)

    Sorry i hope i didn't waffle and can't beat colour :)

  6. Isn’t it funny that we want to make a success of every quilt (or other fabric related item) we make? We allow ourselves to make sketches and paintings and water colours paintings and to start over if it’s not working, but when we work with fabric, it needs to be a succes, we can’t just say this was an exercise, on to the next one. (Well I’ve done that often, but then I don’t feel very good about myself).
    I think your quilt top looks great and you learned a lot in the process and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
    Now go and make yourself a quilt sandwich and finish this beauty!

  7. I know the feeling. I am pretty sure, I am deluding myself to think others care about the stuff I make. ;)

    I know about in process doubts in many areas of my life. My poor husband...he gets to hear it.

  8. I think your doubts, oddly enough, are part of what makes you such a talented artist. You keep questioning all the way through a project, and this gives you impetus to keep refining until it has that beautiful level of polish all your work has.

    ...That said, I know the doubts don't feel fun while they're happening. But your internal creative voice speaks really loudly and persistently, because it knows what you're capable of. And, like you pointed out in your post, it also recognizes those moments when things come together perfectly.

    (As opposed to my internal creative voice, which likes the process of making so much, it usually shuts up until I finish something, and then says, "Yeah, I thought that fabric was a bad choice. I guess I shoulda said something at the time, huh?" :-)

    Also, OMG, putting those hexies at the junctures of your sashing is GENIUS!

  9. I'm so glad you went with your color scheme. It has been so enjoyable to watch your quilt come together over the 2012 year. I still have to finish mine but I know I will lament on my sashing color choices. I adore your hexies in junctions. Your quilt is a work of art! How could it not be coming from your creative mind!

  10. I totally know the feeling. I think it is part of the creative process, but it is no fun at all! Your quilt is absolutely adorable!

  11. We all have them, those moments of doubt. I don't know if it's a woman thing, or a creative thing, but it's real either way. The more I push, the more I become comfortable with MY creativity, MY voice and MY style. And even though I do wish at times it came easier- it is in the struggle that we find the greatest satisfaction. (but only when it turns out right. ;) )

  12. I would say get use to the uncertainty and at the same time appreciate how creative you are! The quilt is beautiful. I think it looked great with the orange and it looks great with the purple. Anything you make is uniquely you!

  13. As others have said here, I think it is part of the process to question our work. I know that in every new project there's a point where I hate what I am making and wonder why I bother. But soldiering through, I am often pleased with my creation at the end. I'm glad you went with the purple.

    Heather M.

  14. Yes! I love the sashing! And the hexies write "Michele Made Me" all over that quilt!

    It would have been so easy to use coordinating fabrics to make this quilt, but just think how much more interesting it is the way you did it. Every time you look at it, you will be able to appreciate the mix of colors that much more. And it is beautiful and unique, and shows what kind of an artist you are. If you don't doubt yourself, and question yourself as you go along, you miss out on the opportunity to learn and grow, and sometimes the end product ends up being even better than you had imagined.

    Just like this quilt.

  15. A very thought provoking post Michele that I think many will relate too. I think you are right in thinking that it comes mostly from pushing the creative process within us. I think if we didn't challenge ourselves and everything fell into place on every project then we wouldn't be growing creatively. Also getting feedback from everyone is what this community is all about. The purple sashing looks great, love it!! I think those blocks needed a strong sashing to pull them together. The little hexies are lovely little "michele" touch too :-)

  16. I can't believe it, purple does look good :)) Congratulations on it! And now you can relax - have a good cup of coffee/tee/hotchocolate and some cookies. Should help you come down. You've done it! Now please be happy about it :) Big hug from Germany - Sigi

  17. It came out beautifully!
    When creating, there are so many choices, it is difficult to know which way to go. But I suppose that is just trial and error. Ultimately, whatever you make will be incredible, because it came from your heart.

  18. Hey Michele, I love how this is turning out, and your little hexis add just the right sparks of color and interest in those intersections! You are quite the maestro with the hexis. I must say, I have been curious to see how it all turned out, as we all were. I agree with many of the wise words people said above...without questioning, or changing direction now and then, our art is not as good. We suffer through the doubts so our art doesn't have to suffer from the doldrums and be commonplace.
    My blocks are all over the map colorwise too and I'm letting each one have its own flavor. To me, the different shapes and styles almost ASKedto be a different color palette. I'll just have to see which ones end up playing well together when I'm all done...

  19. Ah, Grasshopper, you must embrace Wabi Sabi. To quote Wikipedia, "[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect." I, too, I used to suffer as you, nothing was ever perfect, I ripped out until I bled. I had loads of unfinished projects, all started with great ideas. Now I have learned that done is better than perfect and I embrace the imperfections. Your quilt turned out beautifully in spite of all your worries.

    1. Here here! What a great comment!

      I need me some wabi-sabi too . . .

  20. doubting....I think this i the right approach that push you to try different things!!!
    xxx ale

  21. Love the wabi sabi quote.........it seems a perfect qoute for us Creatives that.
    Even the Great Masters had doubts about their work and kept on trying to paint that elusive painting that captured whatever they were chasing to recreate.
    Guess all mediums bring the desire for perfection out in us, but accepting that we can allow ourselves doubt and even, mistakes...is perhaps all part of accepting who we are and what we do.
    Even failing at something is part of our journey and how we deal with it is the real point?
    Do we shove it in a bag and it becomes a UFO or do we stick at it and re establish its being!
    Love the sashing fabric choice, the additional coloured applique bits set it off beautifully.
    And just think.........this quilt of yours has its very own provenance and personal story!!

  22. Oh I love it!!! It turned out beautifully. The sashing color is definitely the right choice. I am glad you decided to stick with your color scheme throughout. It's very unique and very you.

  23. Hi, I always doubt the quilt I am making about halfway through. I read on the internet somewhere that is normal and it will pass and that you will love it again. That happens every time! So now when it hits I just say to myself I will like it again.

  24. Late to the party again I see!!!

    I have to admit I had my doubts about going purple - but you chose your sashing fabric well and I totally adore the hexies! Well done you! (Especially that tearing apart and re-stitching part - don't think I would have gone that far!:-)

    Now about that doubt! Yes, Michele, doubt will be with you always. Because you are a dabbler. Because you are thrilled by the idea of trying new things, excited by the prospect of learning a new technique or experimenting with a new idea. And like me, it doesn't really matter one bit that you don't have a clue about how to proceed! You jump in the deep end - always the deep end - with joy and expectation and yikes doubt and uncertainty appear! Good for you you have learned that they will be arriving, say hello when they do and move on anyway.

    I can't imagine having it any other way! Can you?

  25. Your quilt looks beautiful and I love that dresden block. I have the same sort of problems as you do. Then I just though if I don't like it someone else will. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most of the time though it's not until the quilting is finished that I see it's true beauty. Quilting it makes all the difference to the final look and I'm sure you'll be glad you finished it and be really pleased with your choices.


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