The anxious stitcher

Another quiet Sunday. A run, a walk with friends, between heavy rain showers.  And fretting. I’m often anxious and lately I seem to be anxious that I’m not doing enough quilting, not focussed, not achieving things quickly enough.  This quilt is a case in point. It’s meant to be a sample for a pattern I’ve half written. I need to make it to make sure the pattern works, to photograph it for the instructions. But if I hand quilt it’ll be weeks before I finish it, even with the big stitches I’m using. As I’m sat enjoying myself quilting away, practicing my rocking stitch, I have a nagging voice in my head “shouldn’t you machine quilt this one, just once, get it done in a reasonable time?  How are you going to have a collection of patterns, start a business if this is how long it takes?”.  It’s hard trying to quieten that voice.  But eventually it falls away and I’m lost in the rhythm of stitching.

Brightly coloured lap quilt being hand quilted draped over a chair. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com


The stitches are bigger than I intended, some of them ‘enormous’, so I rip them out.  I decide to get all the in-the-ditch stitching done first, even though I’ve begun filling in some of the bricks, following curves or outline quilting simple blocks.  I’m not happy with my rocking stitch, it’s taking ages and my fingers need some new callouses, urgently.

Hand quilting in a hoop with a big stitch. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Big stitch quilting

Just give in to it, I tell myself, let go and enjoy the learning process.  My technique’s improving, the stitches on the back are more formed, but I still haven’t got it even. One day, I tell myself, you’ll be accomplished enough to make something exquisite.  I don’t know why, but that’s something I yearn to be able to do.  I remind myself it can only come with practice. Tell myself to stop being so self-critical, tell myself that at the moment my skills lie in using colour and that the stitching will come. Slowly.

Hand quilting stitches on back of Nel Whatmore fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

From the back

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy over at Kathy’s Quilts.

Hope you’re enjoying some slow stitching too.

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8 replies
  1. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    Time and practice….quit beating yourself up over all those stitches. If you look at the beginning stitches and the most recent ones on your quilt, you will already see improvement I am betting!!

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I can certainly see some improvement between this quilt and the last one Deanna (which was the first one I used the rocking stitch on)! I decided to try and switch my stitching technique because it looks to me as though the rocking stitch will actually be much quicker once I get the hang of it. I must remember not compare it to my usual technique though, which I’d finally got reasonable control of!

  2. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    Take a deep breath, look at what you have done already and see how great this is going to look. On a practical note, Audrey at Quilty Folk sometimes uses her machine to stitch in the ditch, just to hold the quilt together and then handquilts where she wants. I’ve thought that would be a good compromise sometimes – without losing the lovely organic look hand-stitching gives. Or maybe cheat a bit – get about 25% quilted and then use that for photos etc in the meantime?

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Kaja! I thought about machining in the ditch and then abandoned the idea because I felt that if I was going to use machine and hand quilting it should be because I want to achieve a particular effect, rather than just finish it more quickly, if that makes sense. Your ‘cheat’ idea is genius though!!! I’m definitely going to give that a go! Also, I wonder how many pattern designers don’t actually show the finished quilt, or give instructions for quilting anyway? And another thing I wondered about was writing the instructions with diagrams and seeing if anyone would test it before I finished up my sample with the photographs… who knows! I’m not thinking straight at the moment!!!

  3. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    It’s awfully difficult to quieten the anxious voice inside but do try to take on board what the other commenters have said.


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