So, the Secret Quilt Project is finished.
Well it's finished to the point that the sewing on both
quilt has been completed, both have been tied, and one
has been washed.
And this is where I'm pausing for the moment to breathe.
You see, despite the copious heat setting and prewashing
of the squares, the quilt top ran. Even though the
sample I made was perfectly colorfast, the child-made
item took on a life of its own. The solid backing has
a few blotches, the grey sashing has color on it, and a
few squares bled into their neighbors.
And you know what? It's going to be okay. It really is.
It doesn't need to be perfect. When I spent my time in
the school, having the children create the squares, I told
them that there was a surprise factor in this project.
I said, "This is not going to turn out the way you envision
it, and that is okay. This is the nature of art."
I think there is a trend with women, especially with
quilters, to be hyper critical with their work. So much
gets reduced to minutiae. Is this corner lined up with that?
Is my quarter inch seam 1/16th off? Oh, the horror. (Not.)
Let. It. Go. Honestly, this is a labor of love, or at least
it should be. Sloppy and careless is one thing, but anything
created with passion and love, whether it be paint, or
sculpture, clay, or fabric, should be appreciated with its
flaws intact. Perfection is for machines and things without
love. Ask yourself, would you rather have a gift made with
love and off square, or something made by rote in a factory?
The imperfections are what create beauty. It's the crack
in the ceiling's plaster that makes the bedtime story,
not the smooth blankness of a ceiling tile.
Am I thrilled that the colors ran? No. It hurts.
But, this is not a tragedy. This is not a tornado in
Oklahoma, a factory collapse in Bangladesh, or a gifted
teenager dead long before his time. This quilt is a gift
made by the hands of 625 students and teachers that will
be loved and appreciated despite, or perhaps because, of
it's handmade nature.
Why such a long blog post about a quilt who morphed in
the wash? Because that moment when my chest ceased
as I drew it out of the dryer was followed by a shrug and a
smile. I have loved working on this project. Loved every
portion of its creation. And my refrain through out has
been "Do your best, and let it go." I've said it to children
and teachers unhappy with their ink drawings, to adults
unhappy with their seams, to friends worrying about the
straightness of their rows of knots, and to myself when
need be. There is just no need for stress in this project.
No need for angst or worry. This is a project of thanks,
appreciation and love. The people who are going to get
these quilts have already said they do not want parties
or gifts to mark their retirements. They did not do their
jobs for recognition or for praise or thanks. They did
their work because it needed doing.
They aren't going to turn their noses up at unevenness or
an ill drawn circle. They are going to see the perfectness
of the whole. They will see hundreds of hands at work.
They will know the love and appreciation that powered
those hands. And to be totally honest, a bit of stray color
fits this project. In their careers, everyday wasn't perfect.
There are things that they would do over. It's the whole
that matters. The flaws are what make this project art and
So, be kind to yourself. Yes, you. Be kind. You do your
best, and you let. it. go.