Being Detail Oriented…is a bad thing?

Well. No. Of course not. But it does contribute nastily to my squirrel syndrome. When I first put tiny swag trim on my show quilt Gilding the Arbor back in 2012 I had no idea I was standing on the edge of a rabbit hole. My next show quilt, Shell Collector had the first version of large beaded knife edges…and then it bled…and I had to make it again from scratch. And it bled again…and to hide that, I made the first version of what became beaded piping.

Honestly, some of my best techniques have come from failure, but being unwilling to give up. Did you know that my quilt October Sky…which went on to win basically every major quilt show award there is as well as the Masterpiece award was nearly destroyed by bleeding too? Yep. I confess. The entire reason there is Derwent Intense pencil on it…coloring the green into two sections, is because of a nasty bleed. But, now, it is one of the things that judges say “pushed it over the top”.

I made a decision to write a book about all my details (The Devil is in the Details) in January 2015 and start teaching at National quilt shows. In a way that made me sad. I felt like I was selling out my art. But friends convinced me that my beaded piping was so interesting, so new, so unique that the quilt world would copy it anyway….so I may as well teach it properly and contribute to my family at the same time. That decision has spun further than I could possibly imagine. Not only have I sold countless copies of that book, but taught all over the United States, Canada, Australia, and this year New Zealand followed by Switzerland in 2020. It is pretty hard to believe that an entire career can be made from a mistake.

One thing became clear to me….people love live learning. But not everyone has the luxury of traveling to big shows, and spots are limited once they are there. So last summer I hired a professional crew and over 12 brutal hours we filmed All the Devilish Details as a class, which came out on DVD this January. Im pretty excited to also have figured out how to offer it as a digital class by partnering with

Why on earth is this bad though? Well, I guess it has to to with balance. I love teaching, but I need art. And the more time I spend being distracted by making new books/ classes/ dvds etc…the less time I make art. You would not believe how busy my brain is for both actually. I have really aggressive mental ideas for several new classes etc. But then I have some kind of split personality moment of feeling a deep pain for the time they will take me away from making a new piece of art. I truly need to divide myself into two sometimes I think. The fact is….because I am a raging perfectionist…I can not do a half-way job on anything I do creatively. So, sometimes that all leads to a weird creative depression, because I just can’t do it all. (And still be present for my family, sleep, and you know…function).

One thing to battle that depression I have been doing lately is taking a huge step back from show quilting. I have several awesome ideas, but aspects of show quilting just don’t make me happy anymore. So lately, I am focusing more on using yarn couching as an innovative new tradition in quilt making. I send my yarn pieces off to shows…but I don’t expect much from them. I don’t really think I need to prove myself anymore. But wow. THEY MAKE ME HAPPY. And I find myself on the edge of a new rabbit hole.

Because they make other people happy too. I am getting ready to hire the same crew, and film a class on pictorial yarn couching. And because I am so detail oriented, I can NOT not put in crazy amounts of time into it, then hope for the best. And so the circle spins. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment!

Of course…all this quilt creation does nothing to address the total squirrel distraction of making a line of rulers! (And the need to make stuff to go with them). Hopefully I can manage to resist the weaving trend.

Happy Quilting ya’ll! I’ll be over here managing my split personality.


11 comments on “Being Detail Oriented…is a bad thing?

  1. Oh yeah … the weaving trend … Avoid it at all costs! Love the new website – I’ll tell everyone about it. Our new site is coming up in a week or two … I may link back to your site. We loved seeing you in Steamboat Springs … you’re a gem!

  2. You are so… Bethanne!
    We suffer from the same split-depression crisis here, so I can relate!!
    Why can’t we just liiiiiiiiiiive fooooor eveeeeeeeer?
    And have all the time in the world???

    Go shine, you’re awesome! You’ll figure it out!

    • I tell people…never waste time doing something you are not enjoying. We will all be dead before we do all we want to do. I personally have sworn off English Paper piecing. I don’t care how cute the latest EPP quilt are. I despise doing them! Even if I admire them!

  3. I can SO relate! My artist loves to play, but I’m still saddled with a full time railroad engineer job. I decided I needed to learn to quilt to get women in my life for retirement. I’m knot very good at piecing ( no practice) because I decided I needed to purchase and learn to use a longarm when working so I could afford it. Turns out, as frustrating as learning that has been, I was right. I knew during my first domestic free motion quilting class this is the thing about quilting I LOVE.
    But I get the same sadness/anger at time shortages/depression when I have too many idea and things I want to do and no time to execute. Or so little time I hurry then hate the results.
    You inspire me…. I’m not alone, I’m not an alien in a human body. I’m out of balance 🤷‍♂️❤️

    • I decided long ago it is the quilting, not the piecing I enjoy. You’ll note my show quilts are actually more of a barely pieced canvas! lol. With long arming…just remember to draw. 20 minutes of drawing is worth 2 hours on the frame

  4. Bethanne, I so enjoyed your “Devil is in the Details” class at the first Fall Paducah show that I bought your CD in order to remind myself how to do everything! Looking forward to any other CD classes you put together. You are a terrific teacher and I would love to take another class in person from you someday.

  5. Bethanne,
    Nicely put. Perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse. Ask me how I know.
    I very much enjoy all aspects for your journey. I have your Lily Lines 1 & 2. I love the reflective quality of them and wish my other rulers were so easy to see. It has been fun playing with them on paper but I need to take the plunge and move to my long arm. EEEEEK

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