Fear holds a lot of people back. Not only in life, but also in quilting. Fear of a new technique, fear of messing up, fear of being less than perfect, even fear of not being liked (the work, that is). I'm here to tell you to stop being afraid.

(I feel evangelical just typing that. Maybe I should be on a stage with a tiny microphone on my face and gesticulating calmly as I speak. You know, projecting a voice of inspired energy and turning you over to my side?)

This is a bee block. Just a simple wonky star with a twist was requested. I can get those directions, play around with the fabric given, and come up with something a bit different from the typical stars seen out there. For another person, those directions can simply stop them in their tracks. For one, saying wonky paralyses many. Must have a straight lines... And two, this begs for improvisation. Must have a pattern... Finally, what if the recipient doesn't like what I do?

For a long time I didn't understand these fears. In my case it was because I happen to like a challenge and actually sewing that way. But then people asked me to sew very precise things in their bees, with very specific instructions. Definitely not my go-to-choice for a project. But I'd made the commitment to the bee and my fellow participants. And I wasn't afraid so much as less than excited. But it's one block, what's the big deal?

But one block can be a big deal to a beginner, or to someone whose never made a triangle or not worked with a pattern. I don't want it to be a big deal though. I want people to look past those fears and relish the challenge. Why not try something new? Do you want to make log cabins or simple patchwork for the rest of your life?

Okay, maybe you do. Maybe you would be really happy churning out those quilts. And that's fine. But then stay away from on-line bees and expect other people to get bored with your work if you choose to share it with a very public audience. That's all good if you are happy doing what you are doing.

Looking for more, though? Feeling inspired by all you see on-line or at guild? Then it is time to set aside some fear. Here are some tips to get you moving past the fear:

- Join an on-line bee. This will force you to try new techniques and meet other quilters. Alternatively, join a round robin or guild bee.

- Play. You can just sew for the sake of sewing, it doesn't have to turn into anything.

- Don't blog about it. If you are worried about what people think, then don't share it.

- Blog about it. Push yourself to put it out there, flaws (perceived or real) and all.

- When in doubt about that one fabric, include it. If it still niggles at you once you've used it, then take it out. It is only fabric.

- Ask for help. Whether from an in-person friend or by posting on-line, seek input from others (like we did with the Workshop in Progress).

- Challenge yourself. Set up regular goals to try new techniques or colours.

- Stop reading blogs and books for a little while. It can be demoralizing for many to see so much inspiring work. That is, we think we can't be good enough or think it is beyond us. So take a little retreat for yourself and turn off the computer and stay away from the stack of books. Fondle your fabric and sew for yourself.

- Colour. Stuck when it comes to fabric? Then pull out the crayons, markers, or pencils and just colour. Even if it is just a colouring book, go for it. Give people blue skin, colour the trees purple, or make polka-dotted dogs.

Keep in mind that if you are stuck there is no need to make an entire quilt to move past the fear. Make one block, just play for a bit. This reduces the commitment and moves your forward one step, one block at a time.

What other tips do you have for facing the fear?