The Fate of the Misery Quilt

The Misery Quilt by Nadine Ruggles

Much of the last few years has been spent feeling guilty about all the quilting supplies and other “stuff” that I have that I don’t use, and when I do work with it on Inchie quilts (thinking “I should really finish all that because I have ten new Inchie quilts completed ready to pattern…”) or some of the other ideas I have for quilts, I get overwhelmed pretty quickly by all of the things I’d need to do to get back into the “business of quilting.” The patterning, marketing, teaching, social media mixing and many other things drive me away from my studio before I ever really get started on much.

I tend to create in fits and starts, with long periods of ambivalence in between. Sure there have been outside issues that have contributed to this cycle of short-but-wild bursts of motivation interspersed with longer bouts of near-apathy (lack of time, health issues, family things) but at bottom, it’s a problem in my head and heart more than anything else. The longer this continues, the more I miss the creative energy and motivation that used to be a part of my daily life.

Journey, detail by Nadine Ruggles

I do think about making quilts for show again because I enjoy the challenge greatly. Many of the quilts I’ve enjoyed making the most are those I’ve made specifically for show. And then I think about that Misery Quilt, and having to finish it before I start something else because that’s what it was for. I’ve fiddled with it and worked on it here and there, but there are so many issues with it–the quilting is too detailed for the space being the largest one. If I did it over again, I’d do it differently, which makes it difficult to put in the large amount time and effort necessary to finish it, when I know that it’s not what it could be. It all comes full circle–I might want to quilt and I feel like I should be quilting or at least doing something with all of this stuff, but the things I feel like I “should” be doing aren’t fun or have other issues, so I do nothing and I look for other things to do, like drawing or gaming or whatever.

Journey, detail by Nadine Ruggles

Lately I’ve been looking around at different video courses about drawing and other sorts of art in general, which in typical Internet fashion means I end up looking at all sorts of other things, some related and some not. I looked at some courses and sites about artists block, about making all sorts of other art (vs. fabric or quilting arts), even about career/life coaching (in the “What do I do now if I don’t really want to quilt anymore?” vein). During this latest jaunt through the Interwebs, I looked at a couple of drawing/design courses about typography and hand lettering. I was thinking about that and what phrase I might use if I were to create a hand lettered poster of some sort. At some point, something like this popped into my head:

The journey only ends
If you stop moving

and it was one of those moments where everything just seemed to stop. I sat and thought about that for a long time.

Of course, I haven’t been moving with any consistency on much of anything artistically for years. It’s been more of a fitful slumber. I suddenly realized that no amount of reading about art or artist’s block or career coaching or any of the other bits of things that I’ve looked at or done or thought about to try to figure out what I really want to do now–with quilting or not–means anything at all. Nothing is ever going to fix anything if I’m not actually creating things and making art.

Journey, detail by Nadine Ruggles

All of that merged with this Misery Quilt that I started working on in 2002 or 2003 and have suffered with and cursed at for most of those years, and I decided that the best way to move forward was to do what I’d thought about doing over a year ago–cut it up and make something else with the pieces. Last year I thought “I’ll make stuffed animals out of it because I don’t know what else to do with it” but when it came down to cutting it, I couldn’t do it. I told myself I’d finish it for showing as I’d planned, because anything else seemed like admitting to failure because I couldn’t finish it or didn’t want to.

This year, I thought “I’ll make this as is a reminder.”

The journey only ends
If you stop moving

Failure isn’t.
Change is.
Tread your own path.

Journey by Nadine Ruggles

Her name is Journey.

Perhaps the road won’t lead to more show quilts, but at least this show quilt is done, and the road is clear.

2 thoughts on “The Fate of the Misery Quilt

  1. YES!! The time is right and the quilt is having a magnificent day! Oh.My.Goodness!! This is awesome!! I left a comment back in Feb. when you posted about this quilt and not knowing where it was going or whether it would be finished. What you have made out of this quilt is absolutely spectacular!! Congratulations on a wonderful Journey 🙂

    Love reading about your process. I am only a few years into this and although I don’t feel like I have even begun to hit my stride as a quilter, I have figured out that commissions are not my deal. Making a business out of this will kill it for me. Reading your thoughts about where you have been and where you are now confirms that for me. Thank you for that!

    Your journey continues – you definitely have not stopped moving!! 🙂


    1. Oh Judy, your lovely comments made my heart swell, and I thank YOU for that. 🙂

      You were right, and this quilt has finally had its time.

      If you already feel that commissions aren’t your thing, definitely listen to your heart, but I will also say that people change and what might not be right now could become just right at a later time. Also, everyone is different and what is not great for some might be just perfect for others. There are also other routes to take on the way to business if you ever think you might like to try it.

      You just never know where the road may lead. I’d never say never. 😉


Comments are closed.