The Quilted Life with Carolyn


The Galloping Horse Test 30

Hi there, quilting friends! I am overwhelmed with the fun comments and all of your willingness to open up and share with me after last week’s post about picking colors for your quilt. I loved reading your comments and hearing what strategies you all use to pick your color schemes, and I even took note of a few ideas for future posts, inspired by your comments!

My favorite thing to come out of last week’s post is that you’re feeling inspired to test your limits and try new things, because that’s part of what makes quilting fun!

But what happens when you try something new and it doesn’t quite go as planned? Today’s post is about the very best tip I ever received for dealing with quilting bloopers.


My mother-in-law, AKA Nancy the Quilting Goddess, shared this with me while I was making my first quilt, and it changed my experience completely.

Now, before I get into the explanation of what it is, let’s pause. I think it is safe to say that most people these days are used to a level of perfection that comes from mass-produced, machine made items.

Robots are pretty good at consistency and precision. Humans? Not so much!

It’s funny how hard we can be on ourselves for not being as perfect as robots. Or is that just me? Well, it is definitely me.

My first quilt was pretty simple (check it out below!). Straight lines, no triangles, big pieces - a really great project to test the waters with!

But those corners - I know you hear me on this - I could not get those corners to line up! Oh, I was distressed. I kept “unsewing” (my word for using my seam ripper) and trying to redo it. I was ready to quit.

Enter The Galloping Horse Test.

Nancy explained to me that The Galloping Horse Test is when you imagine galloping by your quilt on a horse, and if you can’t see the mistake at a full gallop, then it is fine. (AKA put down the seam ripper, Carolyn!)

It’s pretty silly, I’ll be honest, but that concept freed me from my ideas of robotic perfection and helped me to see the beauty in the handmade. It allowed me to appreciate how much more special my quilt was because of its imperfections.

It also opened the door for me to try new things without fear. I’ve gone on to attempt appliqué, triangles, pinwheels, making up my own patterns, adding 3D elements, and many more exciting, scary, daring, and FUN things.

So, fellow quilters, if you are frustrated with a “mistake” like misaligned corners, a square you sewed in with the backside up, a whole block you put in upside down, stripes that aren’t straight, or a piece that ended up in the wrong spot - or maybe you’re too scared to try a new technique altogether! - remember The Galloping Horse Test and let that frustration and fear fall away.

Go boldly into your next project with your head (and ruler!) held high. Quilting should be fun, above all else, so be brave!

And so the rest of us imperfect quilters don’t feel so alone, share some of your most memorable bloopers in the comments!.

P.S. My kids’ daycare does a lot of sewing activities. Check my son Lewis out with his latest creation - a piece of foamy craft paper which he sewed with a “needle” and yarn. He even threaded beads onto the yarn. He seems pretty pleased with himself (it must have passed The Galloping Horse Test!). Maybe we have a next generation quilter in the making!

Pairing Colors 25

I have my own intuition, which is unlike anyone else’s!  Here are a few of my quilts, with my color selections made by (pun alert!) my own Carolyn-tuition!

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