8 Ways to Challenge Your Quilting Perfectionism

Monday, July 28, 2014

Last week, I shared my struggles with perfectionism in my post, How Heather Ross Made Me the Quilter I Am. I was touched by all the warm responses! More importantly, the comments further showed me that perfectionism is a struggle many creative people share.

When I started doing improv quilting as a means to escape my perfectionism, I gave myself small goals to prevent backsliding. Here are eight fun ways to help you challenge your own perfectionist tendencies!

  1. Ban your seam ripper. There’s no going back. Do not undo any stitches. If you make a mistake, find a way to fix it by adding, not subtracting.
  2. Blindfolded scrappy. Throw all the scraps you want to use into a bin without too much pre-selecting. Pull a scrap out without looking at the bin, and attach it. No sneaky swapping.
  3. No measuring. Put your ruler away or only use it as a straight edge for trimming. Don’t square things up!
  4. Build it up. Only use pieces of fabric that are 5” square or smaller. Force yourself to find new ways to build up your piece.
  5. Hack and Slash. Make some traditional blocks like patchwork stars, churn dashes, HSTs, etc. Now slice them apart and reattach them in a new way.
  6. Pick a muse. Pick a subject that you can find in many fabric prints, like a cat for example. Make a project using only cat-related fabric, regardless of color, scale, or substrate.
  7. Sew the rainbow. Use every basic color family in your project. I organize my fabric scraps in bins by color, and I like to make an effort to pull pieces from each bin.
  8. No new cuts. Use only existing scraps. Do not cut into yardage or fresh fat quarters.


  1. Great ideas! I've been doing improv like tou describe lately, and the results always please me. You're doing other sewists a service with these posts. Good for you!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! I'm always learning so much from other quilters both online and IRL, so I want to do my best to pay it forward. :)

  2. I will enjoy this. You inspire!