Today we’re examining six mindset mistakes that will kill your quilting mojo… and ways we can conquer them to develop a mindful making perspective. These tips can be applied to quilting, crafting, or even your holiday cooking!
Do any of these mindsets sound familiar?
- Perfectionism: The desire to get everything right
- Comparison-itis: A habit of thinking our work is less than others’
- Fear of the unknown: A closed mindset that stops us from trying new things
- Decision paralysis: The experience of not being able to decide the next step
- Productivity focus: The idea that we must always be efficient at all costs
- Guilt: An emotion that fools us into thinking we owe others something
Woof, what a list! As a wellness coach for makers, I know that all of my coaching clients experience at least one of these mindset challenges. I’ve lived through them all at some point, too! Read on for tips to conquer each mindset mistake.
Above is the Sugar POP pillow. Get the pattern here!
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Step 1: Acceptance is Key to Mindful Making
If you’re creating a masterpiece with the goal of earning first place at a quilt show, be a perfectionistic – it helps win awards.
For the rest of us, it’s time to choose acceptance over perfection. I’m not saying don’t do the best work possible. One of the most rewarding aspects of quilting is that there’s always something new to master! I am encouraging you to accept imperfections as part of the process.
Practicing acceptance in quilting includes:
- Embracing an always-learning mindset that recognizes we all make mistakes as we grow.
- Loving how handmade items show the “hand of the maker” (a.k.a. “imperfections”).
- Recognizing we’re human – not machines or corporations – so our work won’t be uniform like quilts at a retail store.
- Speaking to ourselves about mistakes as we would to a child (we would never shame them for trying).
- Accepting that perfection can rarely be achieved.
Above is a Gather quilt. Get the quilt pattern here!
Step 2: Instead of Comparing Yourself to Others, Look Within
While social media is fun, it’s also given rise to a plague of comparison-itis. With a click we can examine the quilts of master artisans…and wonder why our stitches aren’t as consistent, precise, or perfect.
When we seek external validation, we neglect the most important person we should be comparing ourselves to: Us! The next time you notice comparison-itis, try these:
- Imagine you’re a non-quilter. Look at your quilt through their eyes. Will they notice wonky-mitered corners, or will they rejoice in bold colors and patterns?
- Recall what it felt like to make your first quilt. How are you more confident and capable today? What have you learned that seemed impossible back then?
- Pull out one of your first quilts and admire your earliest attempts. Pat yourself on the back for not giving up.
Above is Suzy sewing on her dining room table years before having a sewing studio. Click here to get a free Sawtooth Star quilt pattern.
Step 3: Curiosity Conquers Fear of the Unknown
It can be scary to not know how to do something. The first time I used a rotary cutter, I was scared I would cut my fingertip off! Imagine if I had let fear stop me? Suzy didn’t let that fear stop her from quilting after she cut part of her finger off when making her first quilt — she persevered and made her second quilt as soon as she healed!
Curiosity is a necessary part of a healthy making mindset. It’s what moves us past fear. When we approach new learning opportunities with a curious mindset, our energy moves toward what could be.
When you’re afraid to make a mistake, consider:
- Reminding yourself it’s just fabric and thread. A worst-case scenario will yield lovely scraps to be used in a future project.
- Replacing the unknown with knowledge, by way of asking a friend (or family member, the supportive Suzy Quilts Patterns Facebook group, or Google) for help. Get curious about the many ways you can learn.
- Imagining positive outcomes. When you’re tempted to catastrophize (what if I ruin my favorite fabric?) challenge yourself to get curious about an alternative (what if I mix patterns together and it’s visually stunning?).
Step 4: Prioritize Decisions to Give Yourself Freedom
Viewing each choice you make as being equal in value leads to decision paralysis. Quilting requires us to make dozens, if not hundreds, of decisions as we create a project. If we labor too much over every decision, we’ll never finish a project. (Heck, we might not even start one!)
When you find yourself agonizing over decisions, try this process:
- Step into the mindset of your most relaxed quilter friend. How would they approach these decisions?
- Rank your decisions on a 1 to 5 scale (1 being “barely matters” to 5 being “makes or breaks the quilt”).
- Be realistic. If every decision is ranked a 5, you’re taking it too seriously. Go back to step 1 and try again from the mindset of that super-chill friend.
- Give each of your ranked decisions the appropriate amount of time and effort. For example, if choosing a piecing thread is a 1, grab a spool and move on.
- Repeat as many times as necessary. With time, your prioritizing will become automatic.
Get the Adventureland quilt pattern here!
Step 5: Choose Joy and Mindfulness Over Productivity
We live in a capitalistic society and are conditioned to approach our hobbies like work. (Raise your hand if someone has ever said “you could sell those!” when they see your quilts.) We might think (or be persuaded) that we should finish an entire quilt each month, or that we must make a baby quilt for every kiddo we know.
This can lead us to focus on productivity and efficiency to the detriment of our pleasure. But a healthy quilting mindset values mindfulness and joy! Try these:
- Remember: You’re a human, not a machine. Your value comes not from efficiency but from your humanity.
- Stay mindful of the task at hand (and the way we want to feel as we perform it), and you’ll naturally slow down to a healthy pace. If we believe we are worthy of feeling joyful as we create, we’ll take our time.
- Mindfulness applies to our thoughts and our physical sensations. Checking in with our bodies periodically might lead to taking more breaks, and that’s essential if we want to enjoy quilting over a lifetime.
Above is the Hexie Stripe pattern. Get it here! Miss Maddie, the sweet little quilt model is 3 here, but now in 2023 she's 10!
Step 6: Healthy Mindful Making Focuses on Self-Respect
Guilt is perhaps the most common negative mindset among my coaching clients and quilter friends. Maybe you’re a parent, so it feels like you should meet all your family’s needs before your own. Or maybe you grew up in a family that taught cleanliness as a key value, so you feel guilty sewing when you could be tidying the house.
Whatever the reason, I’m guessing you sometimes feel guilty when you sew. It’s time to start respecting your needs and desires! Try these:
- Imagine your bestie is feeling guilty. What would you tell them, and how would you encourage them to get back to quilting? What’s good for them is good for you, too.
- Consider how you would feel if someone said aloud the guilty thoughts you’re having. Would you feel disrespected? How would you respond?
- Practice saying this to yourself: “Just as I respect my spouse’s desire to pursue their interests, I respect my desire to quilt.” Practice with a variety of people, including friends, family members, guildmates, and work colleagues. Just as you respect their desires, respect your own.
Get the Fly Away quilt pattern here!
What Mindful Making Technique Will You Try First?
Now that you’re familiar with these challenges to mindful making and quilting, which one will you tackle first? Jump in the comments and let us know! If you’ve found other techniques that work, please share those, too – we all help each other when we share our expertise.