Thursday, November 28, 2019

Name Your Goliath: My Giant Is Named JINGLE, So I'm Quilting It Anyway

Oh my gosh, you guys -- I'm so glad I went to church last Sunday!  The sermon at Christ Lutheran was PERFECT for helping me get over my fear of "messing up" my Jingle quilt by quilting it poorly!  

If you have ever felt intimidated by something (sewing related or otherwise) that seems too big, too complicated, or too difficult for you, then today's post is for you.

Center Appliqué Medallion for my Big, Scary Jingle Quilt, Erin Russek's Pattern Available here
The text for the sermon was I Samuel 17, the story of the young shepherd boy, David, who defeated the mighty warrior giant Goliath despite being completely outmatched and out of his league by all outward appearances.  Pastor Scott talked about fear, courage, loss, bravery, and faith, and about the difference between how we tend to judge people (by outward appearances) versus how God judges people (by their hearts).  He asked us to visualize and silently name the "giants" in our own lives that may be holding us back, holding us captive: a divorce that makes us feel we will never know love again?  The death of a loved one that has taken all of our joy?  A financial failure, job loss, a terrifying medical diagnosis, or feeling that we can never measure up to the impossible standards of this world?  Seriously, this was a great sermon and if you're interested, you can listen to it online here.  The sermon begins about 23 minutes into the worship service.

David With the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, Ca. 1600 (Photo Courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado)
So, what does this have to do with my Jingle quilt top?  Well, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving  -- and on Sunday, as my pastor was ticking off the different kinds of giants we have to face throughout our lives, I realized that I'm currently "between major giants," so to speak.  Right this minute, I'm not dealing with any life catastrophes, and the first "giant" that popped into my mind that has been paralyzing me with fear and robbing me of joy is this Jingle quilt top that has been languishing in my closet, unfinished, because I'm so afraid to "ruin" by quilting it poorly.  

Behold, the Vicious Giant From Whom I've Cowered In Fear!
SERIOUSLY?!!  When other people have REAL problems?!  I sang at all three services last weekend, so I got to listen to this sermon three times.  What makes it a really great sermon in my opinion, is its universality -- its ability to speak to men, women, and children of all ages, from all walks of life, empowering each of us to apply the power of Scripture to whatever we may be struggling with in that moment in time.  That's why I spend my Sunday mornings at church instead of sleeping in, going out for brunch or reading the Sunday papers in my pajamas.  There is no better antidote to the negative messages we're all bombarded with in the modern world than communal worship and music coupled with a really good sermon.

Stitching the Appliqué By Hand, Thousands of Tiny Stitches, One Piece At a Time
Machine quilting is scarier to me than hand quilting -- or any kind of hand stitching -- because a needle in my hand always lands exactly where I want it to pierce the fabric (provided I'm wearing my glasses, that is!).  If I make an ugly stitch, I can pull just that one stitch out and keep going with a hand needle.  Sewing machines, whether domestic sit-down or longarm machine on a frame like mine, are less forgiving, more difficult to control with precision, and stitches that take 30 seconds to make can take an hour and a half to rip out!  However, the look that I want for this quilt is custom machine quilting over a double batting, with fairly dense background quilting behind the appliqué to give it a three-dimensional "pop."  And I've never attempted a quilt like that before.

One of My Favorite Appliqué Blocks From My Jingle Quilt

Today, in this moment, my giants are Crippling Perfectionism and Fear-of-Failure.  My giant taunts me by holding up the masterpieces of nationally-renowned quilters who have decades of experience behind them -- as though this was a reasonable standard of comparison for a beginner like me.

Yes, I love this quilt top; yes, I spent a very long time making it, and no, I really don't want to mess it up.  -- BUT --

  • This was my first appliqué project.  I love it, but it's not perfect -- despite the hundreds of hours that went into making it, this is likely the WORST hand appliqué quilt I will ever make.
  • If I can't practice custom quilting on my own worst, first appliquéd quilt top, whose quilt am I ever going to practice on?  
  • I wanted to try hand appliqué for at least 10 years before pattern designer Erin Russek's Jingle Block of the Month (as well as her inspirational blog posts and tutorials at One Piece At a Time) encouraged me to give it a try -- not worrying about the whole quilt all at once, just taking it one piece at a time.  Think of what I could have created in the last 10 years if I hadn't been so afraid to try!
  • If I put it back in the closet and wait until I'm "good enough" to quilt it, it will probably NEVER get quilted at all.

Now, I'm not going to go so far as to say that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is up there on His throne, organizing a host of angels specifically to help me defeat this quilt as part of His plan for eternal salvation...  However, I DO believe that our human capacity for creativity is part of what it means to be Imago Dei, created in God's image.  Compared to the awesome complexity and breathtaking beauty of every plant and creature in an ecosystem, the majesty of a crashing waterfall or a mountain skyline, ALL of our human artwork must look like preschool macaroni projects to God Almighty, even the works of a master like Michelangelo.  Yet I don't see dogs, frogs or potatoes out there making art; do you?  Human beings are unique in our capacity to create.  It's a gift from our Creator that we're meant to use and enjoy, and the fear of messing up or not being good enough is just a lie that gets in the way.

Creation of Adam (Detail) by Michelangelo, 1508-1512, Sistine Chapel of the Vatican in Rome
Another interesting point Pastor Scott made in his sermon was that God had already started preparing to help David defeat that giant long before David was even born -- in the creation of the Jordan river alongside the battlefield, putting those rocks in place and washing them smooth through thousands of years of abrasion from the silt, sand, and other rocks in the flowing water.  God always shows up, God is never taken by surprise, and God is always ready to help us by giving us the tools we need and putting people in our lives who can help us defeat our giants.  If we can just strip away the fear that blinds us with lies of inadequacy and weakness, we will find that we have had the strength to move mountains all along. 

One of the Pieced Blocks in my Jingle Quilt
That got me thinking.  I absolutely have the resources, the time, and the equipment I need for this.  I have taken classes with nationally renowned longarm quilters to learn 
the techniques for this project, and I am blessed to have one of the best quilting machines on the market sitting up in my studio, ready to go.  I have the right needles, the right threads, the right battings, all the best marking utensils, quilting rulers and templates.  I have people in my life who can help me if I run into trouble and get stuck, and the skills I lack can only be developed through practice.  If a little shepherd boy named David can take on a nine foot, heavily armored, full-grown warrior with nothing but a slingshot, then I should be able to tackle the quilting of my own appliqué quilt!

Embroidering the Dates on the Birdie Block
I'm planning to load my Jingle quilt on my frame and start quilting it as soon as the Thanksgiving festivities are behind us, and then I'll take it one step at a time, without rushing to meet a December 31st deadline.  I am looking forward to blasting Christmas music in my studio while I'm working on it, too!  

Thanks to all of you who weighed in on this one on both sides.  To those in the United States who are celebrating, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up today's post with:

·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  
·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts


Chris said...

I haven't seen "dogs, frogs or potatoes out there making art" but I get to watch my 6-year-old granddaughter in here creating craft after craft and making and "writing" books every week. I should take her lead and get my own book written instead of whining and fretting over the difficulty of doing it. I took a 2-day workshop with the world-renowned Sue Patten last month and learned a lot of things to help me move forward in my own giant of fear of ruining my hand applique quilts with my mediocre machine quilting skills. I will improve my skills when I practice them. Thank you for the words of encouragement. You really got to hear the sermon 3 times that day? Do you think God was trying to tell you something?

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

good luck that is the right attitude - one stitch at a time and it will get done day by day - and it isn't the worst thing that can happen to you if you aren't perfect!! Have a great Thanksgiving with your family!

Quayquilter said...

Good luck with your beautiful quilt.

Marie said...

A former colleague of mine used to say that the thing to work on first is the thing that keeps you up at night (figuratively and literally). Perfection is the enemy of the good - all you can do is start. I'm thinking that its going to turn out so much better than you fear. Enjoy the process!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Love the little sermon/message summary you gave, and hearing how it struck your heart. You had me chuckling with, our art work probably looks like kindergarten macaroni projects to God!
Thinking about some of the custom quilting I've done, often times I try something different and think it looks terrible. But I leave it cuz I don't want to rip it out. Then someone will point out that area and say how they like that part the best! So don't rip (unless the tension is bad). Great idea to give yourself until the end of the year. That gives you time to just concentrate on one block at a time.

Susan said...

This sermon is perfectly timed for you, providing the nudge you need to get this quilted. I, too, have been in this spot, afraid to quilt, scared that I would mess it up. But one needs to just bite the bullet, take a deep breath, and jump in. Once you get started, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about, and your confidence will soar!

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

I hate to bother you but do you know how to purchase this pattern? the link doesn't work
Thx Nanette