Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beware of Peer Pressure in the Quilting World

In my past career as a family and consumer sciences teacher, I saw lots of peer pressure tactics to scare individuals into doing something that they really didn't want to do.  Usually this happened with lots of negative consequences, just think back to your own jr. high/high school life.  So during the 2015 Machine Quilters Showcase (MQS), those same feelings came right back.  I was standing at the International Machine Quilters Association product table examining the items for sale, when my two "friends" standing next to me look at me and say, "We should enter the fabric challenge for next year."  They each immediately grab a fat quarter.  As I hesitated, the taunts began, come on you can do it, it's only a fat quarter, it doesn't have to be a big piece.  (Just a disclaimer, it has been well over a year, and this is what I heard or perceived what was implied)  I mentioned that those really are not colors that I use, I am very busy,  and eventually I ran out of excuses.  So I bought the fat quarter, I mean it was just a fat quarter what could it lead to, right?
The Challenge Fabric

On our way back to Missouri my "friend" Sheri and I did a little retail therapy.  I began to look for coordinating fabrics to add to the challenge fabric, remember these were not colors that I normally used.  I found several pieces, then I let the project ferment, I had till next year, right?

It was like a small nagging reminder in my sewing room.  Every time I moved the pile of fabric over to work on another project, I realized it wasn't going to sew itself.  Then about February, Sheri and I met to discuss our plans for the 2016 Machine Quilters Showcase.  I asked her if she had started her fabric challenge quilt and she proceeded to draw a sketch of what hers would look like.  I had nothing to share, so the pressure was on!

Within the next two weeks, I started playing around in EQ7.  I would design a quilt and then scrap it.  I would look at that challenge fabric, then hate myself for giving in so easily.  Finally I created something I thought that I could live with.  It was a piece that had 5 New York Beauty blocks that varied slightly and I thought it would be ok if I was able to foundation paper pieced them all.  So I printed the  patterns, and they sat.

You  know there is nothing like a deadline to motivate a busy person.  So I got my patterns out and decided to start with the center block.  After ripping out the piece several times, and changing color choices several times, I completed the center.  I then decided that a different plan would be needed to create the remainder of the quilt.  I can also let you know that I will not be teaching this technique anytime soon!
My New York Beauty

I sat and stared at the challenge fabric, and nothing came to me, so once again I set it aside.  I could have walked away, but this feeling that I would be letting the others down kept coming back.  So the next day I pulled it out and stared at the fabric again.  All of a sudden,  I started seeing salted rims on margaritas, I heard mariachi music, and I was motivated.  This piece could be fun, if I just changed my attitude toward it.  (Disclaimer 2, I am not usually motivated by alcohol, but it does help in certain circumstances)  So how could I give this piece a dash of salsa that it was calling for?

It finally hit me, do what you know. During this time period I was teaching a Dresden Plate Block of the Month. Each month we explored a different way to create a Dresden Plate block, so I had variety of options.  Instead of using the three quarters of a New York Beauty Block I substituted a three quarters of a Dresden Plate block.  I also combined different techniques for interest and variety.
Testing out which colors to use.

There were still some decisions to be made.  So like any normal quilter I turned to my friends, and fellow quilters for feed back.  I sent text messages and photos to Sheri.  She being an instigator in this process, was always very positive.  I also took my pieces to a Sewing Club that I attended and got some great feedback from them.  Finally, I asked my husband.  He is not a quilter or to my knowledge has not used a sewing machine for any duration, but I trust his judgement, he chose me, right?  He was also positive in his comments, and helped me finalize my color choices.  So I proceeded to finish the top, just in time to submit the entry application.  The quilt didn't have to be finished at that time.  So I set it aside, I had to get ready for the Quilt Art Show, prep for classes, and of course get ready to teach at MQS.
Getting feedback
Considering different techniques

Before you know it, the deadline for sending in the entry was fast approaching.  So I hunkered down to quilt the piece.  Now I love to machine quilt on my domestic machine, I love it more than all the other parts of creating a quilt.  But once again, I suffered from a creative block, not knowing how to proceed.  Since time was a factor, I decided to start quilting the areas that I had a plan for.  As I proceeded, more ideas came along and I was able to finish the piece.
Checking out the backside

I'm sure that many of the struggles I encountered with this piece stemmed from being "pressured" into participating.  I really never fell in love with the piece or the process.  I was even hesitant about sending it in, I felt that I may not have been my best work.  So after discussing this with my husband, he convinced me that I had nothing to lose, the project was done, and I wouldn't be letting the others down.  I was still hesitant, this would be my first entry into a quilt show after a 24 year hiatus.
Adding the sleeve.

So I proceed to mail the piece in.  As the event neared I became excited to see what the others did with their challenge fabric.  Also getting ready to teach four classes kept me pretty occupied, so it was easy to not give it much consideration.  When we finally did get to go through the quilt show, I noticed that there were 12 entries in the fabric challenge category.  I wondered if others went through the same struggle that I did?

Then the email came, inviting me to attend the awards ceremony for the quilt show.  Could this be?  I showed it to Sheri, she didn't seemed surprised.  I forwarded to my husband, he didn't seem surprised.  I had to wonder, why was I the only one who was truly surprised?  I sometimes think that as quilters/sewists/creatives we often don't perceive  our talents/creations as others do.  This is something that I need to work at.
Margaritas After Midnight at the 2016 Machine Quilters Showcase

I am honored to say that I received a 3rd place ribbon.  Who knew that a little "positive peer pressure" could get me there.  Even though the struggle was real, I learned a tremendous amount about myself during the process.  I also challenge you to exert some "positive peer pressure" on your friends.  Encourage them to learn a new technique, use a different color pallet, or even learn to quilt.  Feel free to share your stories of peer pressure in the quilting world,  I would love to know that I am not alone.

Broadening my view, Linda

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