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Oh, My Gosh! I’m Stuck!

It doesn’t matter if you make large quilts or small, define yourself as a traditionalist or a quilt artist, swear by the machine or make every stitch by hand: If you’ve been quilting for any length of time, there is a good chance that at some point you’ve experienced the dreaded…

QUILTER’S BLOCK comes in many shapes and forms. For example, there’s the BLOCK you feel when you have so many projects you want to make that you can’t decide which one to tackle next. If there is a “good” kind of QUILTER’S BLOCK, this is it. You’ll probably get over it quickly, no real harm done. Temporary burnout is another fairly benign cause. Perhaps you’ve just finished a major quilt and need to do something else for awhile. Don’t worry: you’ll be back.

But then there are the more troublesome “strains” of QUILTER’S BLOCK, the ones that stop you dead in your tracks, that keep you from starting, continuing, or finishing a project … even one for which you previously felt tons of enthusiasm. Know what I’ve learned? Most of these BLOCKS are motivated by FEAR:

  1. FEAR of cutting into that gorgeous fabric because I might make a mistake, or the project might not be worthy of it

  2. FEAR that I may mess up this incredible quilt top I’ve just made with my less-than-perfect a) hand quilting; b) machine quilting; c) choice of quilting motifs; d) fill in your own quilting nightmare/insecurity

  3. FEAR that I’ve just finished the best quilt I’ll ever make, and can never duplicate my success

  4. FEAR that my family, friends, and/or show judges won’t “get” the new ideas or techniques I’d like to try

I guess it’s fair to say that I figured some of this out myself, but the real epiphany came when I first read a concise little book by David Bayles and Ted Orland called Art and Fear. Although not specifically aimed at quilters, the wisdom it offers regarding “what holds us back and how to overcome it” is universal. The writing is clear, engaging, and brims with common sense…you’ll find very little “woo woo” stuff here. Often I’ll brew a pot of tea, pull out my dog-eared, marked-up copy, and read a few pages or a few chapters. Afterward, I always feel I’ve had a session with my very own, personal cheerleader/creative therapist/drill sergeant…whatever it is that I’m needing to get my mojo back this time around.

I find this book so inspiring that I typically keep an extra copy in reserve for sharing. (The last copy went to the talented craftsman who remodeled our bathroom after confiding that his lifelong dream was to be a painter.) As it happens, I have a pristine copy of the latest (23rd!) edition waiting on my shelf for an owner.

So…I hope you’ll post a comment, whether just to say hi, to share what (if anything) puts your creativity on hold, or to pass along a tip or technique that helps you overpower the dreaded QB. Do so by noon (PDT) Friday, April 29, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to receive–you guessed it!–that spanking-new copy of Art & Fear.

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