Living Life 1/8″ Off

I was recently in a quilt shop.  Kelli and Georgia were with me.  The gal who was working knows who we are and said something along the lines of us being quilting teachers.

Kelli and I both laughed.  We aren’t really teachers when it comes to quilting.  I went on to explain to the gal in the store that Kelli and I have taught some classes but admittedly, we’re not the best teachers.  We just don’t know what to do with the student in the class who is overwhelmed that her block is 1/8″ off.  No matter what we do, in every class we’ve ever been in, there is always one woman who is fretting over the 1/8″ that her block is off.

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I’ve been in a class taught by an instructor where a woman was doing just that…worried about her 1/8″ off block.  The teacher pulled her aside and asked about her cutting…asked about her seam allowance….asked about the needle she was using…asked about how she pressed it.  The entire rest of the classroom was at a stand still waiting for this one woman to figure out why she had 1/8″ difference in her block.

Readers…I am 1/8″ off often when I’m sewing.  VERY often.  Kelli is too.  The quilts we make…NOT PERFECT.  Not a single one of them.  EVER.  The quilts we make for magazines or our book.  NOT PERFECT.  Oh my goodness….the truth be told, we aim for perfect blocks but it rarely happens.

I went on to tell the lady in the store that in reality…I think my entire life is 1/8″ off.  I’ve simply learned to be a good fudger.

Students in a class want the instructor to give them all some magical tip that will make their seams perfect and their blocks to come out perfect.  The truth of the matter is there are tips and tricks but even if you follow them, you will likely have a block or two from time to time that isn’t perfect.  Some people say, “Oh my goodness, I’m an 1/8″ off.  I must redo the block”.  Me, I say…”Cool.  I don’t have to rip that out.  I’m only an 1/8″ off!!”

I’m not one that is going to throw the block out so…I learned to fudge.  I learned to flip seams.  I learned to care more about the enjoyment and process of sewing and less about the HIGH bar of perfection.

So…if you ever have us come and teach.  We’ll tell you how to make the block.  We can talk you about color.  We’ll show you have to press the seam.  We will tell you 100 stories about 100 different experiences we’ve had.  We’ll laugh and joke between the two of us.  We’ll show you how to cut, sew and do your best…but if your seam is 1/8″ off.  You’re on your own as we accept that as to about as perfect as a person can get.  We’re happy to show you tips on fudging things so you can get the block in your quilt and look just fine…but again…if you want us to help you fix the 1/8″ that your block is off, we’re just not your girls.

People have said that I seem like a genuine happy person.  People have said that I have an upbeat attitude.  I think in reality, I’ve simply been living my life 1/8″ off.  Perfection isn’t my goal.  Good is my goal…and even then, I often fall short.  I’m okay with that most of the time.  On the day I’m writing this I cleaned up puke from kids 4 times today….2 different kids.  ICK.  I’m okay with it.  Puke is not my favorite…but I’ve gotten far enough in life that it finally doesn’t make me puke.  I’ve learned to expect that each day will not be perfect.  Each day will be 1/8″ off…and 1/8″ is a perfectly okay amount to be off…because I know how to fudge 1/8″ and make it all look okay.

If anyone reading this is a person concerned about that 1/8″, please note that this is written partly in jest.  I do not mean to offend anyone.  You do you and if that 1/8″ is important to you, go for it girl!

Are you a fudger like Kelli and I?  Inquiring minds want to know.

62 thoughts on “Living Life 1/8″ Off

  1. Susan the Farm Quilter

    I fudge all the time. Life is too short t worry about being 1/8″ off. I learned to fudge the day I started quilting! If I need to, I’ll work at dazzling you with the quilting so you’ll miss that awkward fudge!! I don’t do so well at fudging when it comes to the quilting…I’m a bit of a perfectionist on that!

  2. Deb Neumann

    Yes! I’m a fudger and a cross-my-fingers and Hope-for-the-bester! But I’ve been quilting for 32 years and love the process! I’m with you, Jo, life is too short! You keep on keepin’ on, you’re doing a phenomenal job, all the way around!

  3. Nicola

    Contentment is what I want in life not happiness all the time. I think achieving that is by accepting that it’s good enough not perfect. In my sewing, knitting and everything else.

  4. Candi

    Maybe that’s my problem and I just didn’t know I was 1/8” off. So I must be a fudger because I’m not a perfectionist. Life is too short to worry about that 1/8 of an inch. Embrace that extra 1/8 or that short 2/8 and make it your own.

    Love, hugs and prayers coming your way.

  5. Peggy Cooper

    I agree! If my peace of mind ever suffers because my block is 1/8″ off then it may be time for me to take a break…a long break.

  6. Denise Briese

    This is so true..i throw entire quilts away due to that scant quarter inch..or used to. My fear of imperfection keeps me from quilting. I see all the perfect quilts online and think im not good enough. But that’s with anything you see online. I have stayed off social media and i am enjoying my imperfect life and imperfect quilting. Thanks for this Jo

  7. TrishL

    Hahaha, thanks for this chuckle this morning. My motto is “it’s good to have goals”. But I’m with you, it’s more valuable to keep going than to stick the landing every time.

  8. Elizabeth V K

    I’m with you. For myself and when I have taught local quilting students, I don’t worry about blocks being 1/8″ off. I tell students they can make their block fit because fabric will usually give that much. However, when it is 1/4″ off, there is a problem.

  9. Becky

    I am often more than 1/8 off but I’m not the best at fudging it. I find Applique more enjoyable because I can cut the background down to match more easily!

  10. Tina in NJ

    The only time being an 1/8th of an inch would bother me is if one block is too big and the next is too small, where the imperfections add up. This is often a problem with group projects. Personally, I have more problems with matching points, and even then it has to be way off for me to redo a block. I’ve been quilting 35+ years, and I’ve never been too much of a perfectionist.

  11. Gretchen Weaver

    The people who worry about being off 1/8″ are normally people who worry about everything else. I usually avoid those people. Life is too short to worry about being perfect, the more you worry about it, the worse you do! I hope the children didn’t vomit on carpet, that’s the worse to clean up! Happy Stitching!

  12. Stearns Carol

    Stretch it into Submission, I say! Reminds me of when I installed draperies and people would complain about the length. Sometimes, they had a sculptured carpet and the length would vary over the humps in the carpet. Try explaining that away. The client never wants to hear that is it their problem. !/8 of an inch. It is fabric after all and fabric has a mind of its own sometimes.

  13. Jill Klop

    When I was learning to quilt, my friend told me as long as I was consistent, that my quilts would go together. And…they do! Maybe my blocks are 1/8” off, but everything seems to fit together and that’s all that matters to me!

  14. Ellie

    I’m with you and Kelli! Life is too short to worry about that small stuff! I’m usually so anxious to get on to the next project that I’m willing to tolerate small imperfections.

  15. Donna T

    I guess I am a fudger too! 1/8” doesn’t worry me but I hate it when my points are cut off but it happens and I go on. Usually after the quilt is finished, you don’t even notice! Yes life is too short to worry about perfection!

  16. Mary Ann Mettler

    May I say, I do not quilt, but I am with you in life. I will never be a perfectionist, life indeed is too short. Just a little tuck here and a little pull there – it works out.

  17. Donna

    Definitely a fudger. If I ever have a block that comes out perfectly, it is a day to rejoice but I don’t have a lot of those. I guess when you work with scraps to begin with, it’s hard to achieve perfection but the outcome is wonderful anyway. And when you give the gift of a quilt, the receiver isn’t concerned with that 1/8 off, they rejoice that you took the time to make something for them…as my DDs say, “scrappy is the best”.

  18. Cindy E

    I”m a fudger also. When people talk about something being perfect, it sort of makes me cringe. Life is too short – you have to pick your worries. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Elle

    I’ll always pursue a better 1/4″ seam but I don’t lose sleep over it. Most blocks can fit and result in a flat enough quilt.

    FUDGE IS GOOD! I like the idea of living life 1/8″ off. Makes for a creative and resilient soul :-)

  20. Pat

    I’m an 1/8 incher also. Thank you for this post. I read your blog often and it’s always inspiring and uplifting.
    I make scrap quilts – most of my quilts go to family and friends that are going through tough times. I don’t have a design wall and limited floor space so sometimes when I am quilting a finished top I realize that there are pieces/blocks close to each other that could have been moved – sometimes points that are cut off. Instead of worrying about that I want to get that quilt finished and in the hands of someone who needs a quilty hug and comfort. Blessings and hugs sent to you and all your family and thanks again for all your inspiration both in how to live a life well and in quilting.

  21. Ann Marie Burton

    Definitely a fudger here! and an 1/8 doesn’t bother me, fabric is so forgiving. My husband works with wood, and often points out that wood isn’t nearly as flexible.

  22. Sue

    When I first started quilting, I strived for perfection and used my seam ripper a lot. It took awhile, but I finally let go and decided to just enjoy quilting more. The “Galloping Horse” saying made a lot of sense to me! My quilts are still beautiful and it feels so much better to just have fun with the process.

  23. Jeanne Y Bishop

    You’re an inspiration to me! At my age (74) I’ve learned that perfection is a great goal but we also need to be realistic. I love that you’re always adjusting to your life, whatever it is. Your strength is awesome!

  24. Lorraine

    No true words were ever spoken! When I gave up perfectionism, quilting was more fun and relaxing and my technique improved.

  25. Sue

    You may have just made life in total much easier for many. We all seem to expect perfection. If you look in nature the imperfections are what make things interesting. We need to keep striving, but cool our jets all the times we are 1/8″ off.

  26. Cathy Odle

    Do I fudge? All the time.
    Am I a better at piecing? Better then I used to be.
    I am happy if my quilt is relatively square. The whole point of quilting for me is to have fun. I aim for perfection, and enjoy my attempts.

  27. Maxine

    I agree, Jo, with your 1/8” off life. Oh, to be so lucky to only be 1/8” off. Most of my days are quite more. But, the heart is still beating and that’s a good thing. I heard once that when the Amish stitch their quilts — they ALWAYS make one square design just slightly off center. Their reasoning is that — ONLY GOD IS PERFECT!! I think as humans we need to remember that saying and to let God do his “thing” in our lives. God bless you and yours Jo. I have been following you for years. And wish my family was as closely knit as your is.

  28. Lilac Joan Guthridge

    To aim for perfection is to aim for the impossible. Nothing is ever going to perfect and if that is your goal you will be miserable most of the time.

  29. sam

    I am living the life of a fudger here. And enjoying all that I can get done. I am enjoying the process. Always learning.
    And I also love fudge.
    Bless you Jo. Thanks for being real for us.

  30. SusanfromKentucky

    I am so glad to hear I’m not the only one! Being off a tad happens to me a lot. I just thought I wasn’t very good at sewing. I have finished quite a few quilts. Yes, finished is better than perfect. I’m in no way perfect!

  31. Sherry V.

    Oh my. . . .if the quilt police ever came to check on my blocks I am sure that some of them are at least 1/8″ off. But fabric stretches so it is ok.

  32. Jean

    I use 1/2″ seams because that gives me so much fudge room. I’m a happy quilter and any so called imperfections (in other words differences) do not bother me at all. Ever looked at antique oriental carpets? There are many differences side to side and top to bottom. To me they are perfect and beat machine made rugs by a mile.

  33. Nell

    Queen of FUDGE!!! I joke all the time, “If I could cut straight and sew straight, I would be a darn good quilter.” I try, but also enjoy the process. . .

  34. Stoney Monte

    Thanks, Jo, for letting us know that someone who’s been published often in major quilt magazines is quite happy with a 1/8″ variance. That just relaxes the heck out of my anxious self, knowing that people say I do perfect work but I know the cost of working so hard to be perfect. Your success in the quilt pattern design world happened without all that perfection, so why would I make myself sick over a scrappy quilt for donation purposes or a baby quilt for family? Thanks. Just plain thanks!

  35. Barb

    I’m a fudger–100%. This past winter I made the most difficult I have attempted yet for my daughter’s wedding gift. It was definitely not perfect, and I definitely lived with many spots where the block was 1/8″ off. I got somewhat discouraged about midway through that it wouldn’t be “perfect,” but I forged ahead, the quilt turned out beautifully, and it made a memorable wedding gift. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but from a distance it still looked beautiful. I would say all of my quilts have been made this way. I wouldn’t be a quilter if I were that hung up on perfection!!

    Loved this post!

  36. Jackie Jacobs

    The more I quilt the closer I come to being more accurate or maybe I have become a better fudger??? I have a comfort level and if it passes that I am fine.

    I also have to thank you for expressing your feelings at comments people made while Kramer was going through his cancer treatment. I have a friend who is going through treatment now, and I send cards of support and prayers and do not question how she is. Thank you for allowing me to send the messages she needs to hear.

  37. Candy

    I’m a fudger … maybe we should have T-shirt’s made … LOL! On closer inspection of quilts online, in magazines, at quilt shows … I’d say pretty much everyone who quilts is a fudger! I’d rather be perfectly happy making my quilts than making perfect quilts! Keep on keepin’ on girl! Thanks for sharing everything!

  38. shirley

    Thank you for stating it like it is! If I worried about every 1/8 inch that I was off, I would never finish a quilt. Quilting is supposed to be a relaxing hobby, not a contest to see who has the most accurate seams.

  39. shirley

    If I worried about every 1/8 inch that I was off, I would never finish a quilt. Quilting is supposed to be a relaxing hobby, not a contest to see who has the most accurate seams.

  40. Penny Holliday

    No one is perfect! Yes! Part of the process of piecing a quilt is to cut up the fabric then put it all back together and I can do that! If it’s a little off I’m very pleased when I can make it fit ~ not obviously but neatly! I want to complete each quilt in a timely manner than move on to try a different technique or pattern or fabric I’ve been saving for something special or even try some of my own original ideas!

  41. mpv61

    I use 1/2″ seams instead of 1/4″ seams. I don’t use anyone else’s patterns, and it gives me a great amount of fudge-factor. So, yeah, if something is 1/8″ off (or even a quarter-inch off), I can handle it. :)

    Sometimes, it’s working around a mistake that makes a quilt better. I remember an early quilt where I had enough fabric, but the little teddy bears on the fabric would have been sideways…I had forgotten to take the “nap” into account. So I reworked it with some borders and it made it much more interesting. :)

  42. Deborah Rhodes

    I was raised by two 100% people things just had to be perfect. Mom is 87 I am 67 and she still grades everything I show her. Hard way to grow up I love being a 90% I think I am much happier

  43. Amber

    I love your story. I tell people I worked for the government way too long. That looks about right has always worked for me. I don’t make quilts for show. Once the quilt is quilted, washed and on a bed you will never notice any imperfections.

  44. Diane Schotl

    Fudger here and live my life 1/8″ off. You are not alone! I start out being perfect on my projects but as you say life is too short to worry about a block being a tad bit off. The process and getting it done is what’s important to me.

  45. Cindy F

    I’m a fudger too and am perfectly happy being that way. However I was really discouraged a couple of months back when I went to put together my blocks for Bonnie Hunter’s Moth in the Window quilt. Somehow about half my blocks are too big…off by 1/2 inch! I measured them all and now have two piles and they are sitting like that until I can figure out what I am going to do. I had already cut the sashing strips so I can use half of the them on the correct sized blocks. I think when the weather cools I may be watching tv and deconstructing the ones that are too big.

  46. Judy1522

    I am definitely a fudger when it comes to quilting and other things I do. I think you get to a point in your life where you realize there are things more important than perfection.

  47. Andria R

    I want to to say thanks for this post. I’ve been a sewer for less than five years and there are so many people out there making others feel like less than perfect is not good enough. So many quilt police! I’ve been feeling discouraged like nothing I sew is any good because I am a chronic fudger. So to read a post from a quilter that I admire and get “permission” to fudge is very liberating. You are awesome

  48. Pjohnson

    Jo, I want a T-shirt that says “Living Life 1/8” Off “ !! I’ve stood behind the Quilt police at numerous quilt shows, listening to them babble about all the wrongs in someone’s Quilt they worked hard on, had the guts/nerve to enter it and then for the QP to pick it apart, unnerves me. I am known for not having a filter on my mouth !! So it’s all I can do, to not rip them and their ugly heartless criticism to shreds. My friends seem to guide me away slowly, but I would like to ask them, in my most snarky tone, where’s your perfect quilts in this show ?? Love living life at 1/8” Off my friend !! Come to Texas, we could have a blast !!

  49. Carolyn Sullivan

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! yes my life is 1/8″ off and I appreciate your recognition.

  50. Jonnie

    Oh my goodness, I am at least 1/8″ off…………….probably more like 1/4″ many times. LOL I don’t sweat the small stuff. I have lots of friends who are very OCD and just can’t do imperfections. They like neat and orderly and scrappy isn’t even in their wheelhouse. But that’s OK, we all do what we do! And Jo, we certainly think alike! Love you, my dear!

  51. Kris Pedrow

    I love this post! I’m a ‘close enough quilter’. If my blocks are close enough that I can put them together with a more scant quarter inch seam, or use the bias to my advantage… its’ close enough. Here’s the scary part- I’m a quilt instructor at a women’s quilting retreat each spring and fall. Luckily for me, there are other instructor to teach the ‘best practices’ class, and I can teach what I’m good at, and ultimately, Our goal is more about building relationships than being perfect quilters.
    If I have to rip out seams to find that 1/8″, it sucks the joy out of quilting… It’s not worth it.

  52. Karen

    I would love to do a class with you as my blocks are often off a bit too no matter how hard I try. If I had to make sure every block was 100 percent correct I would have stopped a long time ago. It sure would suck the joy out of iy for me. I therefore am a fudger too and a happy quilt maker.

  53. Whitney

    My blocks are more often than not always a bit off, but when all the blocks end up the same off…it all works out!! Finished is better than perfect in my life!

  54. Sally Boyer

    You are my kind of quilter, Jo!! My quilts are of my own design and I know they are not perfect. I strive to do my best, but I don’t fret if they are “fudged!”

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