Welcome to the Quilt Odyssey episode of Quilting in Real Life, hosted by Bernie of Needle and Foot. Or as I like to call it, the Festival of Foul Ups! Bernie asked us to "share both the mistakes and the achievements, the blunders and the best of our work...to present a balanced picture" of our quilting. I usually share my best, so today I'll be presenting some blunders.
I happened to be in the middle of making a disappearing hourglass quilt, inspired by this post on Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Sarah's blocks looked great in solids, but I don't have many solids. However, I did have a nice batch of Blueberry Park that was given to me by Rose. The fabric line is unusual: the entire line is white designs printed on Kona(?) solids. There is SO much white ink on the front that I find the fabric feels kind of sticky when I iron it. Plus it's quite busy, which I thought wouldn't work as well with this pattern. So I flipped it over and used the plain backs instead. The printed patterns shadow very slightly to the back, which gives the solids a kind of interesting "grunge" look.
So far, so good. Fabric choice seemed to be on track, and all the blocks were pieced, so I decided I would document any errors that came up for the Festival. After all, I make a few small mistakes on every quilt.
Never let a quilt know that you are "documenting its errors for blogging purposes." Quilts are known to be a source of comfort! They are helpful and generous! They will reach out to accommodate you in any way they can! And so this piece GENEROUSLY and HELPFULLY fouled itself up in every way.
First of all, piecing together the complex, bias cut blocks didn't go very smoothly. So many seams. So many directions. So many opportunities to have things NOT nest and NOT match. Ripping out wonky seams along bias edges led to too much distortion, so I mostly just left things alone. But I ended up with plenty of junctions that looked like this:
Ick. Nevertheless, I plunged into the quilting. I decided this one wouldn't be going to one of my overseas charities. That meant it was a good candidate for using a backing fabric that has some pigs (and other farm animals) on it. And it was exactly the right size to use up some polyester batting I had tucked into a bag. It was only halfway through the quilting that I realized that I had saved that batting SPECIFICALLY to use on a quilt for the charity that asks us not to use pig fabric. Oops. Guess I'll be buying more batting.
OK. I chose a free motion design that uses various loop de loops, but needs to be stabilized with a bit of stitch in the ditch first. I selected a pretty turquoise thread that blends pretty well with MOST of the fabrics. So let's get started! Stitch in those ditches! Except, I'm really not very good at that. So there's a bit (OK, a LOT) of stitching NEAR the ditch. In the NEIGHBORHOOD of the ditch. In the same AREA CODE? Oy.
Hooray, loop de loops! I'm pretty good at those. Lazy Louise Loves Loops. They look like letter Ls, which is part of my signature. But at least one whole line of them did not not resemble Ls. Not at all. I just lost my focus and the Ls became literally scribbles. My brain farted and I started laughing and I just finished a whole line of scribbles. I'm really sorry I didn't take a pic before I ripped those out, because they were spectacularly bad.
What I didn't rip out, though, were the bad transitions between Ls and the leaf shape I chose for the corners of each block.
Bad transitions, uneven stitch lengths, little tucks, poofy non-flat fabric...this quilt welcomed it all into its bosom. Such a helpful quilt, right? "Take a photo of THIS foul up, Louise! You're welcome!"
I grumbled. I ranted. I may have used a different F word when describing the Festival of Foul Ups to my husband. And I didn't rip any more out. At some point I just decided to soldier on and see what would happen. How would the final piece look with all the squirrelly, not centered, wonky quilted weirdness?
And to add insult to injury, I could feel that tell-tale tug during quilting that means the back is full of pleats like this one:
You can also see how the bobbling of stitching down the binding caught on the back incorrectly here. Sigh.
But you know what? It was all okay in the end. Because it's a super complex design, full of movement to distract the eye from...everything. Look at all those colors and diagonal secondary designs! And after a wash and dry, everything is sooo soft and crinkly that any tucks, puckers, wrinkles and poofs are just part of the cuddliness, right? I think so:
And I know for certain that using the backs of the fabrics was the right choice. Here's a shot of the back of the flimsy before layering for quilting. Too busy, yikes! The grunge side definitely worked better.
All those tucks and pleats? They disappeared completely in the busy barnyard back:
Boaty glamour shots shows lots of nice, crinkly texture. If you can't quilt smoothly, distract with tug boats, that's my motto.
I named this quilt Snafu: Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. But don't get me wrong, I still like it! I'm really not a big believer in pointing out ALL the errors in our work, ALL the time. I'm not looking for anyone to reassure me that it's OK, because I already believe that. But every once in a while it's fun to get the full story to remind ourselves that social media like blogging is curated. Everyone carefully chooses what they want to show the world, good OR bad. Take it all with a grain of salt! If you want to read more stories of quilting woe, check out the comments section of Bernie's post.
It's normal for things to get fouled up, at least a little. And I've learned that it's always better to step back and get the long range picture on a comfort quilt like this one. It's not going to be judged on the neatness of my quilting, and the next one will (probably) be better. Unless it hears that I need help writing a blog post...