“Good enough is the enemy of excellence.”

That’s a quote on a plaque hung over the door of a choir rehearsal room. As a choir member for almost 14 years I couldn’t miss it from where I sat. I was thinking about it the other day as I was practicing free motion quilting. I suppose this is a great philosophy if you are already accomplished at whatever you are doing, but how defeating it is if you are learning a new skill. Sometimes I have to leave it at “good enough”. It’s the best I can do — for now. I believe the best advice I have received in this relatively new process is from Leah Day. She told us in so many words that we want to learn quilting, not ripping. Consequently, some of my stuff is pretty bad. I keep a few pieces around to remind myself that I am improving. I know I’ll never attain the greatness and proficiency of Diane Gaudynski, Leah Day, Amy Gibson, Amanda Murphy, or Libby Lehman, to name a few who inspire me, but I have learned so much from all of these people and I’m very grateful. It’s fun to work toward the goal of excellence. The most wonderful aspect of all of this is that I can get up in the morning and wander into my sewing room, a place that is my own world where I can move closer to excellence.

I started blogging last year but time constraints got in my way. I began devoting all my spare time to quilting, finishing some projects that made me proud. One was a wedding quilt. It was queen size, the largest undertaking that I had ever attempted. The amazing fact is that it was finished a month before the wedding. That was incredible. So many times I started a gift and when the occasion came and it wasn’t finished, it would go in a pile of UFO’s.

I rescued one of those UFO’s. It started out several years ago as a baby quilt. I had drawn cute little animals to hand quilt in centers of five or six of the larger squares on the quilt top. When the baby went to kindergarten, I decided to try to quilt it on my new embroidery machine. That was a disaster. I found myself picking out all of those stitches and starting over. I finished free motion quilting it in the end of November, following Leah Day’s Craftsy Class, Free Motion Fillers Volume I. You can still see the markings of the cute little animals that won’t come out, but the holes from the machine embroidery disappeared when I washed it. I can use it for a wall hanging or a picnic quilt.

I finished a Block of the Month (2012) quilt offered on Craftsy. Instructor Amy Gibson walked me through piecing all those blocks. I quilted it by following Leah Day in her Craftsy course, Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. That is now all bound and labeled.

I’m beginning 2014 juggling a few projects. I have joined a philanthropy group that makes quilts for a local hospital gift shop and a woman’s shelter. I am working on Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt Along, which concentrates on piecing and free motion quilting. I have also subscribed to Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club, a fun block of the month project, along with a couple other projects that are 2013 leftovers.

My goal is to post every Friday to journal what I’ve done, and the lessons I’ve learned over the previous week. Below is the first block of Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt Along. Even though I have been learning to free motion quilt for a year or so, I found it a little difficult to follow the lines perfectly. As you can see, there were a few hiccups. Oh well. But the dirty little secret is that I am abandoning my BSR and am starting over with just a darning foot, setting my stitch length to zero. It’s surprising how much more juicy the stitching is. The difficult part is getting a consistent, medium stitch throughout.

Happy new beginnings! Happy Quilting!

Block #1: Four Patch Fun Wiggly U Shapes

Block #1: Four Patch Fun
Wiggly U Shapes

Block#1 Stitching

Block#1 Stitching

Back of Block #1

Back of Block #1

Stitching on the back.

Stitching on the back.


17 thoughts on ““Good enough is the enemy of excellence.”

  1. “Good enough” is only the enemy of excellence when it becomes “the end”, the final step, the ‘goal’. It does not really mean to “settle for” a mediocre finish. When “good enough” is the current skill level achieved…it’s time to celebrate and then push forward tomorrow!!! Yay!!!! The old hymn “Give of Your Best to the Savior” is so appropriate…….it is the giving of your “current” best (and that may very well be the final level to be achieved) and tomorrow, we continue to strive for the goal and continue the race that we may FINISH……..and that is a goal that is “good enough” in Paul’s books!!!! Many hugs……… NOTE: I don’t use my expensive BSR foot, either. In fact, a year after purchasing the 440QE I bought a Juki TL2010Q. A free motion/darning foot, dropped feed dogs, ‘0’ stitch length…….works great!!! Even stitch length will come when you become totally tuned in to the “hum-purr” of your machine and your hand movement is in sync with the machine’s speed. It’ll come……in time…..with practice. Keep on keeping on!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for your comments. It would be easier to just use the BSR but I really like the stitches better with the darning foot. Hopefully soon I’ll get the hang of it.

      • I know you will and you will love it!!!!! The problem with the BSR is the split second delay from the moment the laser ‘reads’ the fabric movement to the time that the needle is appropriately moving…..by then I’m on to the next stitch. The human mind moves faster than such a set-up. FMQ without the BSR is so much more relaxing, once you get the “hum-purr” thing mastered…..and you will!!!!!!! Hugs…………….

  2. I think your stitches are looking really good. I’ve never sewn on a Bernina, but I’ve heard a few people talking about not using their stitch regulators. Trying new things is great, and to each their own! What burns me up is when I hear a sales person in a dealer store talk about how you “need” this or that feature in order to free motion quilt. It’s all I can do to not butt in and say, “I quilt all the time without that!”

    • Thank you. The stitch regulator was part of the package with my machine. It has served a purpose in that it has made me comfortable with free motion quilting and allowed me to do a lot of quilting. I just really want to learn how to fmq without it.

  3. I think your FMQ on that block already looks very good. I’m also doing the quiltalong have to admit that I still need to start. If my FMQ looks as good as yours I’m definitely pleased.

  4. Total agreement on the BSR, and your stitches look fabulous, dahling! Even when your stitches aren’t perfectly spaced, it has a look I like so much better than the stitches of the BSR, Great job

  5. Well, I’ll no longer bemoan that I don’t have a stitch regulator on my Featherweight! I do think I am beginning to get some sync between hands and motor. That’s where the four-foot rule comes in–stitch length not so noticeable at that distance.

    I totally agree with the comment about “good enough” is okay for present skill but not as an end goal.

    I have not taken Leah Day’s advice about trying to quilt on the line. I think it an added hindrance. I practice with pencil to learn the line. But I want to learn free-hand free-motion quilting, so I practice that. If my circles are not round, they are not round. In fact i had equated free hand and free motion; only recently realized they were separate concepts.

    • I have discovered that it takes more control to quilt on lines than to free motion quilt without lines. I followed Leah’s free motion quilting project and started my learning process without lines. This has been very interesting. I thought it would be really easy and was surprised when it wasn’t.

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