Creative Process

Discussion, Quilts

***Strong Language Warning*** In this post, I share a quilt I created that contains a curse word. If that is not your cup of tea, this post may not be for you.

Creative Process

Based on some responses and conversations I had after publishing about Design Inspiration last week, one of the things that came up was the saying, “Fake it till you make it.” I think that can work for some people, but it has never helped me overcome my biggest hurdle in getting started with anything new: my fear of failure. I also stumbled across the graphic above which is a silly, tongue-in-cheek info-graphic about the creative process. What I see when I look at the pie chart is very little inspiration and work, and a whole lot of fear covered by distractions.

So when I say “Show up. Try. Learn. Repeat.” and “You become what you repeatedly do,” I completely understand that the biggest challenge might be overcoming fear about showing up and being different, feeling excluded, or being lost and overwhelmed. Or once you have shown up, there can be great fear in putting pencil to paper / thread to cloth / rotary cutter to fabric. Change / New / Learning can be scary.

I am not a self-help specialist or guru, but when I get stuck, there are tools that I use. I phone a friend. I set a timer and start, giving myself permission to throw everything away that I create during that time. I color in a coloring book to activate the creative side of my brain. I turn off all social media distractions.

And yet, even with structured tools that I have found over the years that help me find my inner courage, I can still be stuck. For instance, I have wanted to practice quilting feather patterns for a while, but I keep coming up with reasons why I never sit down to give it a go.

So I made myself a reminder to not be afraid to try what is in my heart and that the only way to grow is to try. And if I am going to try, I might as well try with gusto.

Quilted Leafy Feather Thingy
Quilted Leafy Feather Thingy

And you know what? I started with a quilted leafy feather thingy – and it was not as terrible as I thought it might be.


In fact, once I got in the groove, I had fun and started to feel like there really is something to the idea of #FlowQuilting. Moving mindfully from one motif to another, and enjoying the meditative sound of my machine and feel of moving the fabric.

Passionately Fuck Up
Passionately Fuck Up

So here is my 8.5-inch by 8-inch mini quilt reminder to go for it. I don’t know if it will help push me off of the next fear ledge I approach, but it helped me work through one.

Passionately Fuck Up
Passionately Fuck Up

And lest you think everything in the mini quilt is perfect… the flourish by the K? I was trying to quilt a nice, straight, horizontal line under Passionately and made a bobble. So I turned it into a swirly marble and continued along my way. Then I quilted the rest of the letters and by random chance I kind of like the way it turned out.


  • This is a great post. And you are not the only one with that fear of failure. It is connected to that unattainable perfect quilt thing that makes some of us crazy when the seams are off ever so slightly. A teacher in a class I took 20 years ago said “a man on a galloping horse will not notice”. Words that I still invoke from time to time but too long to put on a mini quilt! Thanks for sharing.

  • You’ve done it now! I have a fear of free motion quilting–it’s hard for me to relax and try. After reading your post, I am now feeling inspired that i CAN be free to passionately muck it up. After this weekend when my company is gone… free to be!!! I love your mini quilt! I almost spit my coffee through my nose laughing when I saw the complete picture–welcome to my world!
    My 2016 word is COMPLETE. I can see it in your phrase… (still laughing!)

  • You’ve done it again! Inspired me to sit and play, everything doesn’t need to be so serious! My current fear is not being able to create something different, something that knocks my socks off. I love your reminder quilt…words and all. I do swear like a sailor…or a quilter as I like to say!

  • Good Morning Yvonne! Fear is always popping up in my quilting world. Usually, I can stomp it quickly and go forward with whatever I am doing. Yet, there are plenty of times when I can not get rid of it. The chart you presented is a great example of how it can be handled by me at various times. When you actually see the chart of reality, it is an eye opener and I will be trying some other methods. Your free motion feathers are coming along nicely. Mine are still looking like a well they are indescribable! LOL. I really like your mini and it made me smile! Thanks for sharing and have a fantastic creative day!

  • Fantastic! This is a perfect sentiment. I struggle with fear as well, and my goal is to do everything with conviction, without worrying about the final result. If I love everything I attempt, I am probably not growing as an artist. Your mini is awesome, and I wouldn’t have guessed this was an early feather attempt!

  • This so resonates with me. I am getting braver with some things and I’m pretty sure it’s this online quilting community that has helped me mostly with that. I promise I’ll start that designing when this head cold is gone. How’s that for procrastination.

  • One of my resolutions this year is ‘Just do it’. I am so rubbish at FMQ and have a quilt half done because that’s what it’s waiting for, so next week I will make a quilt sandwich, have a practice, and just get on with it. After all it’s just a quilt for me and it’s just fabric. You are a great and inspirational quilter. Well done you.

  • Well done, Yvonne! You definitely hit the nail on the head–fear is frequently nipping at my heels in terms of quilting. I’ll take your suggestions and do my best to Fuck Up Passionately, too! I love what you let flow from your heart. Thank you so very much for this post!

  • You know Yvonne . I swear rarely but occasionally and I love this . The swear us quiet , not leaping out but is heartfelt and profound ! As all good cursing should be .
    And I may be printing off this pie chart

  • Thanks for sharing that Yvonne! Here’s my problem, I am guilty of another F word, I think I just Freeze a lot of times, not knowing what direction to take next or faced with a new challenge. I need to remember your motto! (And, at first, I thought you had a copyright on that F***, until I read about the little bobble!) 🙂

  • I see or hear people not trying something with quilt because they are afraid of messing up, or not being good, or hating the outcome. But how are people going to get better if they never start, never try? How the hell do people think I got as good as I am now?! YEARS of fucking practice and passion for the craft is how! This didn’t come naturally to me over night. I love that you decided to just do it, even it was a total fuck up. And then instead of throwing away this practice piece you framed it and hung it on your wall as a reminder to go do something else with passion, and it’s okay if it gets all fucked up. Because that’s how you get from novice to intermediate to expert. I agree that “fake it till you make it” doesn’t work very well in the quilting, how does one fake a quilt? How does one fake being good at quilting? I think the only thing the phrase does is convince your brain that it’s okay to just do something, so in that sense it is okay. I like your line better–just show up and try it. Learn what works and what doesn’t, learn some tips from someone else. Repeat. Never stop repeating and you’re bound to get better.

  • Just do it. Don’t worry if it matches, if it’s not perfect, if the stitch lengths aren’t even, if you make crazy straw looking straight lines…and I especially like how your little bobble fits exactly after the “k” – that way we can define our own definition of fuck

  • Great post, Yvonne! I have suffered from fear-induced procrastination in different parts of my life for years. In the last…maybe 10 years I’ve recognized it and tried to kick myself in the behind when I realize I’m letting fear hold me back. I’m still not so great at just diving in and ignoring the fear, but at least I’m aware of it and starting to find ways to move past it.

    Your flow quilting looks great!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)