The Pursuit of Perfection

by Mary Beth Krapil

A friend sent me this:

I don’t know where it originated, so I can’t give credit; my apologies. But it really got me to thinking. About perfection and our different attitudes about perfection. I come from my background as a pharmacist, where perfection is pretty important. After all, really bad things can happen if your pharmacist makes a mistake. But as a quilter, I have a much more relaxed attitude about perfection. I sort of follow these rules:

So I guess you could say we can have differing levels of perfectionism in different pursuits. Let’s not talk about housework. Like Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” We will stick to the subject of quilting.

I recently read The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. And this passage just works for me as a quilter: 

“In 99 percent of the stuff we do, perfection is superfluous. It’s not necessary, not expected, and likely won’t be noticed or appreciated. So here we are, devoting extra time and effort to making everything just so – and nobody cares. It’s actually a wonderful realization; because when we stop striving for perfection, we get our stuff done faster, and with greater ease.”

Here’s my suggestion: take pride in your work; put forth your best effort; strive to improve, but don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop you from finishing projects. Be proud of where you are right now. Do the best you can and improve when you can.

Keep learning, take classes, use the tools available to help in your work (like rulers or stencils or Pro-Stitcher, sometimes, even the seam ripper).

Listen to people like Scott Adams, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

If you are happy with it, leave it. If it bothers you, fix it. It’s really that easy. Sometimes I have to get out that seam ripper and I have an assortment to choose from.

It kind of scared me and at the same time amused me when I started to collect them all for the photo. Maybe I’m more a perfectionist than I admit to? Each one of those seam rippers has gotten a workout from time to time. My favorite is the carved wooden one with the bumps. I call him Jack (the ripper). The wood one next to Jack actually belongs to my husband. He won it as a door prize at a quilt show. He rents it out to me. I haven’t seen the bill yet, but I’m sure it has added up over the years. Everytime he sees me using it he says, “Ka-ching!”.

But sometimes, it’s OK. Sometimes I can live with a little imperfection. And Jack gets the day off. Other times, not so much.

That’s the way I look at it. How far do you go in the pursuit of quilting perfection?


2018-05-31T18:20:09+00:00June 8th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|8 Comments


  1. Lana Russel June 11, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I live by the rule, If it bothers you, fix it. Otherwise, finish it. Enjoy your blog, Mary Beth!

    • Mary Beth June 11, 2018 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Thank you, Lana!

  2. Jacque June 13, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Super post…..enjoyed it, and it gave me a fresh reminder to enjoy the process, and stress less about it being a perfect project!

  3. Connie June 29, 2018 at 11:34 am - Reply

    I was just practicing free motion last night and didn’t get even close to perfection. Thanks for the encouragement to keep practicing and striving to improve!

  4. Vivian July 2, 2018 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    The way that I deal with my perfectionism is to set it aside and then make a decision later. Sometimes I really don’t even notice what bothered me in the first place. (I tried that with a block upside down and I just HAD to change it!)

    • Mary Beth July 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Haha, Vivian! Some things are too hard to live with.

  5. Gary July 23, 2018 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Navajos leave a “spirit line” in their rugs, an imperfection said to let out the spirit the weaver puts into the work. “The Navajos also believe that only God is perfect and that humans cannot achieve the same perfect level. So they make sure to leave (a) little imperfection in anything they create.”

    A great post and not just for quilters. Thanks for all your hard work on these blogs.

    • Mary Beth July 23, 2018 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Thanks Gary. Glad to know you are reading! And thanks for sharing the article from Amusing Planet. I love the last line: ” there is beauty in imperfections, and beauty itself is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete “.

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