Is Perfection YOUR Quilting Goal? Should it Be?


Welsh Leaf--Red on Gray Free Motion QuilitingHappy Friday!  It’s another lovely day in Minnesota. I hope you all are enjoying fair skies and warm weather this week!

Today is Open Line Friday…Any questions out there?  YOU ask– WE ALL answer!


The photos today are from a little practice piece I stitched several years ago.  I was inspired by a whole cloth Welsh quilt I found in a magazine.

The Welsh quilting tradition which reached it’s height before World War II was primarily hand quilted and is gorgeous because it is NOT PERFECT–which gives it character.

Welsh quilting has greatly influenced my quilts…while I prefer machine quilting, I definitely embrace:


Welsh Leaf, Free Motion Quilting


Try The Welsh Leaf Free Motion Quilt Tutorial and see The Quilt I Almost Threw Away-A Welsh inspired quilt for more.

What about YOU?  What style of quilt is YOUR inspiration right now?

Would YOU enjoy quilting a little more if you weren’t always striving for perfection?

I’d love to hear!


PS…Google or perform a Pinterest Search: “Welsh Quilting Images”  for more ideas…

PS…All images, tutorials and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin, share, tweet, etc. with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

50 thoughts on “Is Perfection YOUR Quilting Goal? Should it Be?

  1. My favorite is Free Motion Quilting. It takes longer & requires more attention to detail but I let the quilt talk to me. It takes me a long time to decide on a pattern. I am currently using Blue Line products to trace the stencil ,, most customers do not wash their fabrics so I remove as I go.. it takes longer but I have had problems before of the blue lines not coming off the quilt. I love to learn new fillers but feathers seem to be my favorite.. Pat S

  2. I am completely new to free motion quilting….I have never done it. After finding your website yesterday, I am scared and excited to say, that will be changing soon.
    I just finished piecing a 2-sided quilt for my daughter for her college graduation. She went on Pinterest and picked out the design and went with me to the quilt store to pick out fabrics. I was almost ready to pay to have it machine stitched because it is king sized and I wasn’t sure I should tackle hand quilting it…would I still be working on it 5 years from now? Fortunately, the store was closed, and so we went for coffee next door.
    That’s when it dawned on me that this Janome machine I inherited could do the quilting better if I learned free motion quilting. I have done baby quilts and lap quilts on it in the last 2 years since I got it, but nothing so big.
    Originally, Bekah wanted concentric circles for the quilting, which would be great on the side that has 3 in. squares placed 6 in, apart, but on the back was chevron, and I couldn’t picture it. After discovering your website, I see the many possibilities and so does she.
    I am now getting the supplies to practice. I did find the Getting Started tips…THANK YOU! Can you tell me what kind of batting to get?
    I happen to be in Columbus, OH this weekend for an origami convention and hope to locate some quilt stores here that will have stuff for fmq. I am hopeful I can find a class. I live 2 hours away, and no one did fmq in the stores by me, so I forgot about it.
    Next week, I will be in WI and MN visiting family….do you have a shop in Stillwater, since we will be in St. Paul anyway?
    Any suggestions for me as a beginner would be helpful, I will gather supplies over the next week or 2 and then begin practicing. I am a teacher so my summer free time is about to be ending. Thank goodness for weekends.

    Sorry so lengthy,
    Terry Nelson
    Wapakoneta, OH

    • Terry, Since you brought it up, I think origami would be a great inspiration for a paper piecing project. If you find something that intrigues you at that convention, drop me a picture of it (and the designer’s name) and maybe I will have a go at it. PaperPiecingHeartland—at—
      Thanks, Peggy Aare

      • Peggy, I hope that you can share any potential origami creations that Terry can find for you <3

    • Hi Terry,
      So thrilled you are tackling free motion quilting! If you’ve already done a lap quilt, you are well on your way.
      I LOVE wool batting. I made college quilts for my twin daughters.. and the wool stood up well to washing and drying in the dorm machines! The quilts are softer than ever!
      I don’t have a shop in Stillwater. I usually go to Bear Patch Quilt Co in White Bear Lake…a jaunt for you in St. Paul, but if you have time it’s a nice shop.
      Let me know if there’s anything else we can do…

    • Hi Terry, from Lil Koster, a quilter in Wilmington, DE. Small world – a friend of mine, and origami expert, Faye Goldman from Ardmore, PA, is at the Columbus origami convention, too! She specializes in intricate geometric shapes. Enjoy the convention, and good luck with FMQ! They say, “practice, practice, practice!” Wish I could make myself do more of that. 😉 Lori is an inspiration to us all!

  3. Ahhh, perfection….what a word! I truly think that word stops a lot of us in really enjoying and mastering the quilting process. I speak for myself and I think many of my friends. We see others that have been doing it for a long time and it looks so beautiful. Than we try and get frustrated because we can’t seem to get that perfection we think we placed in our minds. Many give up. But I can honestly say from my experience that if one strives for total perfection, you will dry yourself nuts and take the joy and fun out of an amazing thing. When I finally one day did a scrap quilt and quilted it with the loop de loop and decided I am going to just do it. Well, I had mistakes, but you know what, it still looked GREAT! Amazing thing happened that day, it freed my thinking and on I went. I think too much is placed on perfection for the home quilter. Unless you are entering that perfect quilt show, than relax and enjoy it. And the standard rule is you get better with practice. I used to be afraid to try new things, and that prevented me from having fun. Now I just go with it, and still get amazed. I tell all new quilters that it is baby steps. And you will see okay, better and good in the journey. Claudia

  4. I have only been FMQing for a couple of years and thought I could never do it. I had watched long arm machines quilting, other sewers doing it and thought, ‘Wow that is too hard for me’. Then I found your blog and it is now one of my passions. Even my stitch length is getting better. When I started I tried for perfect until you said it wasn’t necessary to be perfect. When my first quilt was done I showed a friend. I also showed her where I had made a big mess and she said if I hadn’t shown it no one would of seen it. She was right and no one did. The imperfections make my quilt me and of the quilts I have completed no one sees any of the mistakes. They are all beautiful imperfections and all, just like I am. Last winter I even got to teach a class to 15 ladies at our guild so they could start doing FMQing.

  5. I live in South Wales GB, and we have a few wonderful Welsh museums displaying those amazing hand quilted whole cloth quilts. They absolutely blow your mind and to think it wasn’t a hobby for them it was a way to earn a few pennies, and i do mean a few. The really sad thing is that wonderful talent hasn’t really been passed down the generation as it was considered a job. I wonder in hindsight would those ladies have passed on their talent if they knew how popular it has become?

    To comment on your question Lori, i trained as a fashion designer and for years only perfection would do, that’s until i got the love bug for patchwork. I found perfection doesn’t and have spent the last decade trying to un-learn perfection. Not an easy thing i found an old school report a few years ago and my sewing teacher back then said i strove for perfection!!

    hope you have a wonderful weekend

    • I’d love to see the Welsh quilts in your hometown! I understand the ladies that stitched them were often widows with no other source of income–yet they still stitched them with love and it shows. They are beautiful!

  6. Rosemary B here
    Happy Friday every one.
    Perfection. I used to be a perfectionist, but that was in my own mind.
    I have been sewing since I was 8. I have sewn everything possible (except a house cozy, I have not made that yet) I started this quilting thing a few years back when I decided Ice Dancing was maybe not a good idea anymore. And it is hard to be perfect with terrible partners haha
    Quilting has shown me I am faaaaar from perfect. I have a long way to go.
    I have not had much time lately taking care of the 91 year old twins (my parents) but they are moving next Monday to an Erickson Community, Ashby Ponds. So, I hope do get down to business making sandwiches and practicing my perfection.
    As with anything (ice dancing included of course) practice makes absolute perfect.
    However, that being said, nothing is really perfect. I think every attempt at trying is perfectly wonderful
    Happy week-end every one.
    I really enjoyed your responses so far
    Lori, I adore you and your wonderful blog.

    • Rosemary, I so understand about parents.. My mom is 91 and refuses to go into a home so looks like I will be forced to move into hers.. Not sure what I will do about the Longarm quilting .. Pat

  7. I bet some of the books brought up earlier had something to say about this!!! Perfection has not kept me from trying but has slowed me down on production! And as an art there’s always a critic! I know we can be our own worst critics sometimes…I’m always exicited to show my girls what I’ve been making and then I can’t help myself but I have to point out all my goofs…they tease me really bad about this. 🙂 So I’ve been practicing not doing that! haha!
    Striving for perfection makes me very tense too…I have been practicing sitting up straight and relaxing my neck and shoulders and just enjoy the process as I tend to get all balled up hunched over my machine when I get to a tricky part or if I want the FMQ to be exact and my nose gets so close to my work the little arm going up and down on my machine has actually plucked an eybrow!!! or a spear of bangs! LOL! Yep…see that lady with half an eyebrow…she’s a FMQuilter! haha!! No wonder I’ve had back issues!
    So…setting back and enjoying more and more…and if I get a project with more “character” than I planned so be it. 🙂

  8. I have been enjoying piecing and quilting (and sewing and knitting) much more since I adopted the following motto to pacify my perfectionism: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be usable, and nobody can use it if it isn’t done, so get it done!

    I just finished a quilt where I got very frustrated when the blocks were not coming out perfectly, but I finished it and FMQ’ed it with simple lines and then put it out of my sight for a week or so. When I looked at it again, it really was quite nice, and the recipient was thrilled to receive it and is going to use it–what more could I ask for? If it had been perfect, the end result would still be the same: a finished work that someone is going to use and enjoy.

  9. I am the stereotypical Virgo…we are all about perfection! It can be a real handicap at times. Right now on my longarm is a quilt I worked on for 7 months and the fear of my quilting choices not being perfect have paralyzed me! I need to pull myself up by my boot straps and enjoy the process. If I think of my quilting as organic and true to reality, then my imperfections will be just as in nature and I might actually get this quilt quilted!

      • my latest piecing definitely qualifies for “organic” ! i wanted the butterflies to be subtly different and not all oriented exactly the same way — i was trying for “natural” and think it ended up being “messy”

        but alas, it is FINISHED, so i’ll take that and move on!

        i’m a perfectionist cancerian… but learning to enjoy the process, a day at a time…

    • If you don’t quilt it.. then who will be able to wrap it around their shoulders and get a hug from you when they need it most? If you sew or quilt because you love will show right through to the ending stitch. Happy Quilting!!!

  10. I feel the same as Granny H. above. I am not always happy with my FMQ while quilting on the frame, Yet, every time, it is a pleasant surprise to remove the project off the frame and it looks good!. As time goes by, I have been trying different designs and it gets better and better.

  11. Once I stopped trying to be perfect, my free motion quilting improved dramatically. I just try to be in the moment and do the best I can. Recently I have been inspired by the younger generation of sewists/quilters. They bring a fresh eye to quilting. Happy Sewing!

  12. Good morning to you all. I just finished a king sized wedding quilt for my daughter using my little old 1960s Bernina 730. I was so nervous and doubtful when I started the FMQ part that I tried the first leaf motif in the middle, stopped and went to bed. I was sure that I couldn’t do it and should take it somewhere to be done by a longarmer. But the next morning, I thought I’d try again and I forged ahead, figuring I could always pick out the first ones if they were that bad. My husband said the best thing: ” Every single stitch will be done by her Mom and she’ll love it.” By the time I finished, the first ones looked just fine. And my dughter and her new husband got tears in their eyes when they opened it up. Yay for imperfection!!!!!!

    • Thanks for sharing that Theresa. My son is getting married Oct 4th. I am planning to make them a quilt too. You have just boosted my confidence.

    • Theresa good for, I always say that my quilts are made with blood, sweat and tears. And 9/10 they are. I still get the nervous shakes when I cut fabric for the first time especially if it is expensive, but once the first cut is made I’m fine.
      Keep on fmq’ing it’s the best fun you can have. Xx

    • I’m working on a king size quilt for my daughter in the small throat of my machine and didn’t think it was possible but just finished the quilting and now to the binding. I was determined to do this myself and even though it’s not perfect it’s been fun and hope she loves every little stitch done with loving thoughts and hands.

      • I’m sure she’ll treasure it, its made by her mum.

        And isn’t amazing how big a quilt you can get through a little domestic machine. I’ve managed a 90″ not sure what that equates too in actual bed sizes.

  13. So many people from the “olden” days, still think that hand quilting is the only way to quilt to get uniformity, perfection, whatever. I am so glad I have transcended that mentality. I strive for all of that in my piecing, as I have the control there. But I am at the mercy of not being blessed w/ any artistic talent, plus using a machine that sometimes “has a mind of it’s own”. So I strive for charisma & character, & one of a kind, in my quilting motifs. And w/ that, I am able to be satisfied w/ the finished product!!!

  14. I love to try different fmq designs and don’t like to mark my quilts. SO, that meant getting over the idea of even trying for perfect quilting stitches and just going for it, which was very hard. Now I think of my fmq as the texture that adds character to my quilts and yes, they’re not ribbon winners, but they’re unique and my work from the first cut of fabric to the last stitch. And the more I do the better my stitching will become. Or so they tell me!

  15. I guess I’ve never worried about perfection, knowing it’s not achievable. I try to do my best and if that isn’t good enough, well, guess you’ll never get one of my creations, be it a painting or a quilt. When I coached volleyball, I would tell the players that it was a game of mistakes. You just took the mistake handed to you and tried to make it better. Life’s like that too. Just keep taking the mistakes handed to you and try to make them better.
    Oh, and maybe my philosophy stems from hating to use a seam ripper and being inherently lazy–lol! It sounds better above;-)

  16. My quilting goal has always been to try it all! I have to admit I do have some OCD tendencies when it comes to quilting… perfect points and joints take me to my happy place, :). I laugh to myself when someone tells me, “you’re the pickiest quilter I know”… I don’t think she meant it as a compliment, but having that reputation has never hurt my longarm business… plus that trait is what helps me find the best shortcuts in making and quilting, then teaching what I learn, which is another aim. My quilts aren’t perfect, by any means, but I do love the entire process of dreaming, designing, making, quilting, and living with quilts, and that makes me perfectly happy.

  17. So many good comments about perfectionism. Somehow the quilters around me think they aren’t trying hard enough if they aren’t “perfect”. I prefer the phrase getting better. I love fmq, and I’m better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I’ll be tomorrow.

  18. As a former French teacher and current professional quilter, I can say that numerous studies showed that the people that picked up a language the quickest were not afraid to make mistakes with other speakers and just bowled through their errors. The same can be said for freemotion quilting. I find that a zen state produces the best results: focused but relaxed. I am currently into a relaxation technique called ASMR, especially the videos done by Olivia on Youtube. It’s basically soft, soothing whispering while someone pretends to brush your hair, etc. kind of like when your Mom used to tuck you in at night. I wish I’d had these when I was teaching. As for mistakes, I use my beloved grandmother’s expression: On a galloping horse ( who would notice?)

    • Good morning…what a wonderful discussion thread! I am also new to FMQ. I have several practice squares that I thought were ugly so I put them away. I kept practicing both on my machine and my art pad. Then a week or so later I took out my blocks…lo and behold the quilting didn’t look so bad… I just finished my first baby quilt with FMQ put the binding on and it is finished. It doesn’t look very bad…but I need to now learn to let the fabric speak to me for the design. I used the designs I learned and put them on the blocks…almost like a sampler…in a way I guess it was. 🙂

  19. I am all for honing my skills as a quilter , and a Novice FMQ er! With Practice comes improvement! the more I play (practice) the better my work looks! my work like myself is a work in progress, I never expect perfection. Only the best of my ability at the time.

  20. I have so enjoyed reading this thread this morning. As a newby to FMQ, I’ve doodled, watched videos, tried most of Lori’s tutorials, and needle punched paper for months in my spare time. But I kept practicing and waiting for my designs to become perfect, which of course they never did! Finally I just gave up and “did” a quilt, and it didn’t turn out too bad. I can see the booboo’s, but none of my friends have, and they thought it was beautiful. Yeah me!

    From now on, I’m not going to stress about being perfect, (because it is impossible!) and just do the very best that I can. Seeing that first quilt finished and on my sofa (it’s a throw size), has given me a sense of accomplishment and pride in my efforts. Now, I’m on to making 3 more for Christmas, for my daughter and my two wonderful grand babies. Wish me luck!

  21. I had never heard of Welsh Quilting, have to explore that art. Lori, can’t believe you were going throw that red and white quilt away, thank goodness your daughter rescued it. I’m comparatively new at FM but every time I finish a new quilt I can see I am a little bit better. When I look at your beautiful designs, the first thought is, ” I will never be able to do that.” But then I look at your tuts and see that one step at a time leads to the amazing design. I have been on a starting binge this year, so going into fall there are six flimsies waiting to be quilted. Hopefully by the end of the year my skills will be much improved. Perfectionist? Not by a long shot. I am totally satisfied if it is better than the last one. Sometimes I look at my quilts and am amazed that I did them. No not perfect, but there is just something magical about quilts.

  22. I decided when I made my first quilt that if I tried to make it perfect I would never finish it. I think once it is washed you can’t see where things don’t match anywhy and if anyone makes a big deal about a mistake they are just being mean.

  23. Interesting comments all! Several years I looked up the definition of “perfect” and the verb meaning is “to improve” — nothing there about flawless — of course that means practice is required. I’ve embraced that definition ever since!!

  24. My initial experience of quilting came five years ago when I had the occasion to watch an experienced quilter at work. At a small gathering, a group of women made some little bags, and one quilter quilted them all as they were finished. After studying each piece and deciding what motif would be best for the fabric pattern, she free-motioned it on a treadle sewing machine. I had not yet started my first quiltmaking class and was totally clueless about the actual quilting part, but was IN LOVE with the process I had just witnessed. I have now free-motion treadle-quilted quite a few quilts, first using a standard-size Singer and now with an industrial Singer because of the slightly larger harp space, and when people ask my why I use a treadle, I can only relate that first experience described above. Perfection (whatever that is!) has never been my goal, but I’m happy when I’m quilting and the recipients are happy with my quilts. What more could anybody want?

  25. I have a tendency towards perfection that sometimes leaves me absolutely paralyzed. Recently my sister asked me to quilt six wallhangings she had pieced. I reluctantly agreed, but warned her that my work would not be perfect because I’m still a beginner at free motion quilting.

    She assured me that it didn’t have to be perfect and that she was sure that she would love whatever I did. So I quilted them, and it was such an exhilarating experience! I felt free to attempt things I would not have otherwise.

    I really learned a lot by doing this project. And my sister loved the finished wall hangings even though I had some tension problems on the back. (Although people who are not themselves quilters are easily impressed.)

  26. I usually have several quilts in differing stages of completion. For special quilts, I do strive for perfection, but have specific levels of acceptance for quality for each project. If I don’t strive for perfection, I feel that I don’t improve as much. I also am usually working on a charity quilt or a child’s quilt, and it’s typically an easier design where I don’t work as hard and my standards for perfect stitching are not as high. These are more for fun and experimentation. This works great for me; my skills progress in both quality and I learn new techniques. On any particular day, I may want to work on something more fussy, or not.

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