Each week throughout the summer we’ll hear from a designer about a pattern or book that caused them to head in a new direction and helped form their career. This is the seventh post in the series. You can read all of them right here.
Vanessa Vargas Wilson is truly a one-of-a-kind person. She lives with her husband and two young children on a 5-acre homestead in Florida where she homeschools and has an organic garden. Vanessa originally trained as a lawyer, but now has a wonderful YouTube channel with 141,000+ subscribers called The Crafty Gemini where she posts weekly videos about sewing, quilting, cooking, and organic gardening. She’s entertaining and informative and just really fun to watch. I was thrilled when Vanessa accepted my invitation to share the pattern that changed her life.
For as long as I can remember I have been a perfectionist. I don’t like making mistakes. While in law school I needed to find a creative outlet because I hated it and never wanted to be a lawyer, but I knew I had to finish. (What else could I do with a BA in Anthropology?) So, I had to find something I enjoyed to help keep me sane. I picked up sewing and a month later began to work on my first quilt. The instructor of my first quilting class was an award-winning quilter whose work was perfection! I wanted to do that, too.
My first quilt was a simple nine-patch quilt. I remember making almost twice as many quilt blocks as I needed. I brought them all to my instructor so we could pick out the perfect blocks worthy of being included in the quilt. Who does that?
Soon after, I ventured into the world of quilt magazines and gave a pattern a try. I started off with a pattern called Square Dancing that was featured in the May 2008 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. I loved the geometric nature and how it didn’t look like a traditional quilt.
As I made this quilt I was striving for perfection, but was having a little trouble getting all the intersecting points to match flawlessly. I was frustrated and annoyed, but had invested so much money in fabric that I decided to go ahead and complete it anyway. After I had it quilted it was a beauty! You couldn’t even really make out where my mistakes were. When I saw that quilt top go from a mess of mistakes to a gorgeous work of functional art I knew I could ease up on my perfectionist tendencies and cut out some unnecessary stress and anxiety in my life.
Quilting is about having fun and making gifts for loved ones to enjoy. Once I came to this realization I enjoyed the quiltmaking process more. I would remind myself that it was okay to make mistakes. The quilt did not have to be perfectly made to be beautiful.
This Square Dancing pattern was so simple it gave me the confidence to design and make my own patterns, too. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Today my imperfect projects help me feed my kids. I can live with that.
The Square Dancing pattern from McCall’s Quick Quilts magazine was the pattern that changed Vanessa’s Vargas Wilson’s life. Is there a pattern that changed yours?