I've had this UFO on the floor of my sewing room for 6 months. I created the pattern, I printed the large scale drawings out, then proceeded to dump them on the floor and leave them there for months.
And yes, I consider this a UFO! I had intended to make it and I did not. Tripping over something for months on end definitely counts as a project needing to be completed!
I also really, really want this done by the time James is 6. I felt an enormous amount of guilt that he hadn't had a new quilt in years and really wanted one that would capture all the things he loved and obsessed about as a little kid - robots, dinosaurs, and aliens.
So this week full of determination, expectation, tons of super mom power, I plowed through this quilt. I even took a terrific Craftsy course from Carol Ann Waugh to learn a super fast stitch and slash technique for making each block and they came out AWESOME:
Woe to the mother who asks this question with her heart on her sleeve.
James took one look at it and said "I don't like it. I don't want that quilt. I don't want it to look that way."
These words cut me up and shredded my expectations. I'd had so much riding on him loving this quilt, being super excited and happy about it. My guilt over not making it sooner needed relief from knowing he would love it when he finally got it.
But that didn't happen.
Instead this quilt was a catalyst for a huge family melt down. As I said, James has been in school for around 4 weeks now and the teachers are really pushing him in all areas. It's a lot of work for a free spirited kid to sit still, listen, draw, color, sing, and follow directions for a full day, and I had been continuing that process at home with more coloring and skill building activities right off the bus.
Basically, he was getting worked all day with no down time. Overstimulated, overworked, my kid lashed out with a temper and meanness I'd never seen before.
And it was all directed at me and the quilt I was creating for him. Yes, honesty is important, but I could tell from the look on James's face that he knew he was being intentionally hurtful.
But that's the thing about kids. He couldn't tell me: "Mom, I'm fried! Stop asking me to work so hard after school! Let me be a kid and run around and play, okay?!" He doesn't have that kind of communication ability or personal insight yet.
Instead, he found an obvious emotional trigger and he pushed it. It was that response, in addition to a few days of constant belligerence and frustrated tantrums that finally woke Josh and I up to the mistakes we were making. But the damage was done where this quilt was concerned.
And that's the major pitfall about quilting gifts. You never really know how someone, especially a child, will react.
If you have too much riding on a wonderful reaction, chances are you will be disappointed. It's probably not intentional, but think about it - how much time and energy does a quilt take to make? How much did you think about the person it was intended for during all those long hours of cutting, piecing, quilting and binding?
To give a gift like that, and then have it shrugged at, or worse openly snubbed, is like being cut with dull scissors and having salt and whiskey rubbed in the wound. It hurts really bad.
What's worse is it also feels like a huge waste of time. All that time and energy you could have been putting into some other project for yourself or someone who might actually appreciate it.
So are quilts really good to give as gifts?
I think they are, but with a few special rules:
#1. No secrecy - The best way to get a disappointing response is to keep the project a secret. You can really throw some people off with a special handmade gift, and truthfully you can't get more special or more handmade than a quilt. I've had people react with everything from excessive tears to shrugs and entirely because they didn't know HOW to react to such a gift.
The best way to get a great response is to let the person know they are getting a quilt far in advance, and keep them updated about the progress throughout so they know how much time and energy it's taking. No, they are not allowed to provide input or change your design (this is a GIFT, not a commission). They just need to know what is coming, and they need to clue in to the best way to react.
#2. Stockpile Baby Quilts - Making individual baby quilts every time you meet a pregnant person really is the pits, mostly because babies come so erratically. You might end up in the terrible situation of needing 10 baby quilts for all your many grandbabies and great grandbabies and not enough time to make them all.
So the solution? Stockpile. Don't make quilts specifically for that one mother and baby in mind, just make them whenever you feel like. Bind and stick em' on a shelf and one day they will be given away.
Yes, it might feel soulless to make baby quilts for whoever-as-yet-unnamed person, but honestly this is a great way to divorce your emotions from the giving experience. That way whether you get a shrug or super hug, there shouldn't be any resentment.
#3. No Deadlines - Staying up until 3 am every day for a week is awful. Staying up that late and wearing yourself out for a gift that might be badly received is even worse.
Don't put any deadlines on your quilted gifts. Deadlines will just make you crazy, irritable, and feel even more that the quilt is not yours or for you, and make it that much more mired in emotional "stuff" when you get around to giving it.
Quilt for YOU. Quilted gifts are great, the act of giving quilts is great, but make sure the quilt is ultimately for YOU and fulfilling something YOU want and need as well.
Otherwise what is the point?
I spent a lot of time thinking about James's reaction to his quilt. Yes, it made me cry. Yes, I almost dumped the project. Yes, it was hard to return to it after having my excitement and enthusiasm crushed.
But I'm set on my goal to finish ALL my UFOs by the time I turn 30. I'm very serious about this goal and it's very important to me to fulfill it, to the point that the idea of dumping this quilt is too painful. Finally I realized:
I WANT to finish it for ME.
When I realized that, I suddenly stopped feeling so hurt and upset about James's reaction. This isn't his quilt, it's my quilt. I'm making it, I'm enjoying it, so it's my quilt.
So today I put the finishing touches on the border and I have to say, this is one of my most favorite quilt designs ever! It's fun, cheerful, bright, and funky all at the same time!
|Fun, cheerful, and bright, I'm definitely planning on publishing a pattern of this quilt!|
But I no longer need his validation of this quilt to want to make it. I don't need his excitement or approval. I don't need his appreciation or good response. I love it, I want it, so I will make it. Simple as that.
So that is the ultimate lesson: Quilt for YOU. Whatever you make, however you make it, wherever it's going in the end, make sure you're getting something out of it and enjoying the process with every stitch.
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1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog. If you're linking up a photo, first upload it to Flickr or Facebook.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com), but the link to the specific post: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2012/01/quilt-along-2-quilting-in-rows.html
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