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A Little Off the Wall

Intro Photo


I was sewing the border on the quilt for this year’s Quilters’ Quest the other night while watching the Washington Nationals vs. Baltimore Orioles baseball game on television and I found myself paying more attention to the brick wall behind the batter than the player himself.


Batter with Brick Wall


It took me back to the last Jinny Beyer Club meeting at the shop. One of the women stood up and was showing a quilt that she had hand pieced. It was beautifully done, but she was a bit apologetic, saying that she knew everything was not perfectly straight. I then had to give her my abbreviated speech on symmetry.

Pick up a leaf and look at it. At first glance, the right and left halves appear to be symmetrical but on closer observation you can see little discrepancies. It is those differences that make the leaf more interesting to look at than if was perfectly symmetrical.

Even though the human face looks the same on both sides, once again there are differences that make the face more interesting than if it was perfectly symmetrical. Look at this photo of Abraham Lincoln and the difference in how the face looks when you make the two halves exactly mirror each other. The face has now lost its character.




To me it is the same thing in quilting. Quilts that are made with strips cut and pieced together and then cut up again into blocks or triangles and made into a quilt can be lovely but there is a certain charm in a quilt made with scraps or multiple fabrics where all the blocks are not exactly the same.

The same can be true of the quilting process. Computer-guided longarms have made it much easier to finish a quilt with perfectly completed quilting designs and opened the door to many who do not have the time in their lives to finish certain projects. But if you don’t try the quilting yourself because you feel you can’t be perfect, you may be missing the joy and pride of making the quilt entirely yours.

As I studied that brick wall behind the batter, I loved the fact that bricks were not evenly spaced and perfectly symmetrical. It gave the wall character and charm, making it much more interesting that a pre-fab brick wall. The same should be true of your quilting projects. Celebrate the little idiosyncrasies, and know that is what makes your quilt unique.


Brick walls


9 thoughts on “A Little Off the Wall

  1. Jinny, you once talked about this concept in a class and it changed the way I look at many things, making the visual world even richer and more interesting than I’d known it to be. Thanks!

  2. Well said. I enjoy the whole process of making a quilt. I have made many unique quilts with lots of idiosyncrasies, don’t believe I’ve ever made a perfect one. Reading this gave me the enthusiasm I needed to get back to my current quilt in progress, a Hunter’s Star and a gift for my oldest son. First quilt I’ve done feathers on and I can now think of my feathers as charming rather than in other less flattering terms.

  3. I always say “Perfection is highly over rated”. I strive for imperfection!

  4. Thanks for your baseball quilt tips post. Your observation is helpful, positive and just what I needed. Thank you again for sharing your wealth of experience and refreshing perspective with us.

  5. Oh Jenny my sister Dorothy Dicus would give anything to be able to meet you. She just chairises everything you do and say.I don’t Ave the money to send her there but they broke the mold when my sister was born she is always doing for others if there was just a way she is 68 yrs old and has a bad knee. She loves all your fabric and etc. Are you going to ever be in Missouri? She lives in Salisbury Mo. and I live in Jefferson City Mo. Would love for her to meet you ! Bless you

    1. So sorry, but I don’t have any plans to be in Missouri any time soon.

  6. Such a warm and peaceful store! I bought a full bag of fabrics…not going home to Oregon without Jinny Beyer fabrics to show for my trip to VA! Picked up my patriotic Row by Row, met the calm and joyful Jinny. Everything in the store is beautiful and touchable. Thank you for two nice visits!

  7. Jinny, you’re post reminded me of something Kaffe Fassett said about his enjoyment of finding “those mysterious little corners” in a quilt. I take that to mean finding the humanity in a quilt–a quilt made by a human who by nature is unique creating a quilt that is uniquely theirs.

  8. I want to make my quilts correct, but I’ve always felt that if I stress so much about making “the perfect” quilt (which will never happen), I don’t get to enjoy making the quilt. Furthermore, I think the imperfections in my quilt are what make it me.

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