I am not a risk-taker.

Not at all, but I am becoming a risk-taker.

Here’s something to remember – risk is easier when you take what you know and put it to use. Let’s use quilting because, well, that’s what I know! I’ve learned over the years that when you are trying something totally new–like a pattern or technique–you follow the teacher’s example exactly. (At least the first time!)  Then once you gain a little confidence, you start to change things up.  Suddenly you’re swapping colors, playing with dimensions, or turning the block on its point! 

Does straying from the instructions scare you? It used to scare me too. 

This last week I pushed myself to take a risk and shade some rocks on an art quilt. 

Shimmery blue fabric was folded and shaped to look like a river. Small pink fabric pieces were cut and laid out like stones in the river.

These pink stones were both so tricky and fun to design.

I was held back for weeks because I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I was completely frozen by the fear of messing up before I even started. I pulled up my big girl panties, took a spare rock, and painted it with two different colors. I saw the one I liked and did more. I absolutely loved it!! 

Then I played with Angelina fibers. I tried something new with weights and a heat gun. It was so freeing!  It filled my cup and gave me energy!  I have got to take risks more often. (At least in the studio – no jumping out of planes for me, buddy!)

Overcoming Fear of Your Projects 

Like most creative types, I have a lot of unfinished projects on my shelves. I mean A LOT!  The adrenaline rush of a new idea gives me so much energy. I’m telling all my family and friends, and showing Instagram my fabric pulls. “Look how great it is going to be!” I say. I can hardly stand to make dinner and get back in the studio. The design process begins. I’m making the pattern, and then it’s time for those first cuts. My hands freeze. 

 Cutting into that precious (often expensive) fabric?!

I know perhaps a few of you have the same thoughts as me…

What if I made a mistake? 

What if I measured wrong?

What if I don’t have enough?

What if it doesn’t work? 

What a waste! 

Then your stomach starts to churn and your once vibrant dream of a beautiful quilt slowly starts to fade. You can’t possibly make a mistake and waste that fabric. If it’s not going to be perfect, why start? Then we go back to the safety of scrolling Pinterest and dreaming of what could have been. 

Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes

Now, what do you do when you take the risk and it doesn’t go well?  

Maybe the seams don’t match, or the colors look awful together, or you glue your finger to your quilt.  Don’t give up! Instead, do this:

  • Breathe
  • Try a different technique
  • Give yourself some space and walk away
  • Ask a friend
  • Box it up for another time
  • Boldly scrap the project and move on

Sometimes the best option is to dump it all in the trash can. That doesn’t mean you failed or wasted time. Lessons were learned along the way. They always are whether you recognize it or not! 

If you have difficulty leaving and going to a different project…the more you practice the better you get at it. I promise.  Maybe the project doesn’t turn out. Or maybe you just don’t know the technique to pull it off yet. Set it aside. One day you may.

Learn what you need to learn and move on! Take notes in your sketchbook for later. You will thank yourself! (Trust me – I’m still learning from my mistakes)

What risks have you taken and are willing to take next?

Blue fabric has been painted and folded to look like a river. Pink stones made of fabric have been cut and laid throughout.

Click the image above to see a full tutorial on how to paint fabric pieces like these small stones.