While the experience is still fresh and crispy in this wee mind of mine, I wanted to write my future-self a letter to remind her of all the good things I learned from making this “Hexistential” hexagon quilt.
How are you? Well, I hope.
You remember that hexie quilt you made in 2012 and 2013? Remember, before you ever made it, how much you had wanted a hexagon quilt? Remember how you’d thought it was an unrealistic far-flung dream? And then remember how you worked to make it just the same, and how nice it eventually turned out?
Here are some of the secrets to that success. Or 10 things you learned from your hexagon quilt, if you will. Take this letter out whenever you doubt yourself or whenever you think one of your ideas is just too big to handle. Hopefully it knocks some sense into you.
1. Planning is worth every minute. Know what you intend to do before you begin. Draw out a design for the project, and also, draft a plan of daily tasks for yourself. This was probably the biggest lesson to you. You are notoriously spontaneous. But spontaneity can quickly disintegrate into scattered and distracted. With a plan comes direction and clarity – even serenity – things you definitely could use more of.
2. A little goes a long way. Work at your large project bit by bit. Give yourself a task to complete every day and then do it but no more. This will keep boredom and overwork at bay. Remember how you actually looked forward to the little bit you planned to get done every day, and your consistent efforts were rewarded with steady progress? That’s because you set aside about an hour every day to work on the hexie quilt. Every day you made 15 hexagons. But you also did some other small additional task. For example, you cut out several hexie papers, or joined a bunch of hexies, or removed hex papers from the completed sections of the top, or you cut out a bunch of scraps into hexies. This little bit every day kept the project rolling yet utterly doable as well.
3. Challenge yourself. Challenging yourself involves going beyond what you already know even – and especially – in the face of self-doubt. You had never made a hexagon quilt. You had only admired them from afar always feeling that the hand-work would be overwhelming, that the required effort and persistence were not part of who you are. You always thought: “There is no way I could ever make one of those!” But look, you were wrong and now you have proof. In fact, there IS a way. You can do it!… YOU CAN DO IT! Just because you have doubts, doesn’t mean you have to give in to them, and it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t be capable. If you never try, you’ll never find out what your true limits are. Remember this, Future-Michele: fear is not a measure of ability.
4. You CAN take it with you. Make up a travel kit. And take it with you on long car rides, on the bus, or whenever you go anywhere where you’ll be waiting. You lugged your re-vamped ice cream bucket travel kit everywhere: camping, out to dinner, to The Boy’s lessons, to the optometrist’s office, on summer holidays, across borders etc. In a half-hour you easily got through your daily quota, no problemo.
5. Switch it up. Yeah yeah, switch it up. There are so many tasks involved in making anything. When you get bored with one task, do another. If you think basting one more hexagon will make your head explode, then (very carefully) set that task aside, even for a few days, and sew instead, or cut stuff out. Change it up and keep going darn it!
6. Stop in the name of love. Well actually… sometimes you DO need to take a break. So when you’re tired, take a day off. Once you’re rested, resume the work. The world will not end if you have to push back the completion date of a project. Remember you brought the whole kit with you on holidays? And remember you didn’t crack it open for days because you really needed a rest? That didn’t spell the end of you or your quilt, did it? No Future-Michele, you just started up again when you got back home.
7. Make your own rules. Make this project yours. Experiment. When you’re creating something that will require this much effort, a little forethought and playful experimentation could catapult your project from mundane to beautifully unique. Here are a few gorgeous examples of hexagon quilts, scrappy and otherwise, from around the web that kept you inspired to go beyond…
- Namolio’s Flickr Hexagon Quilt
- Hexagon Star by The Sewing Group
- Martha Washington’s Flower Garden by Hannah Wallis
- Malka Dubrawsky’s Hexagon Quilt
- Patricia Cummings’ Hexagon Quilt
- Story of a Dear Prudence Hex Quilt
- Bailey Girl Five Hexagon Quilt
8. There’s gold in that there scrap bin. If you have fabric scraps, then you potentially have a quilt. If you divide your scraps by colour and value, you have a better idea where to begin, what to create. If you lack certain colours, ask friends and fellow crafters for scrappy donations. Do you remember that weekend, when you set aside your natural shyness, and visited a local quilt show? There, you asked around and found an older lady who was getting rid of scraps for free. Needless to say, you were very thankful, weren’t you?
9. Keep track of your progress. Write down your progress to see how much you’ve done. For some reason, it helped you to know that you’d made 45 hexies or 932. It was motivating, you could see movement, and it boosted your self-confidence. It helped you visualize how much you had accomplished, and was concrete proof that you could do it. Remember that, Future-Michele.
10. Share and share alike. It is very motivating to share the journey, the progress, and the setbacks of your project with others. Sharing the making of this hexagon quilt with your reader was so motivating. She encouraged you and was curious to see what you had accomplished. Your reader kept you engaged by expressing a desire to see more. This made you want to give more! You should be extremely thankful to your reader because she helped you, in a very real way, to complete your beloved hexagon quilt!
I hope you’ll remember these things when you’re thinking about what comes next, Future-Michele. Life is full of hope and opportunity. Don’t let fear stop you from reaching beyond what you thought was possible. Not ever.