Wednesday, April 3, 2019

It's a finish: Snafu

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...

27 comments:

Bernie Kringel said...

Oh my gosh Louise - this post is hysterical. The pressure of wanting to document a mistake or two and the quilt was over-zealous and provided a billion boo-boo's. So funny!! But, you are right. The quilt looks great. Very wise to use the back of the fabrics. (I have had that experience with 'sticky' feeling fabric from that sort of print. It is odd.)

Thanks for sharing this. It is the best!!

Debbie said...

Snafu is hilarious! I have a couple of those tucked away too...lol.
Seriously, it was a labor of love of quilting to pull this one together and make it sea worthy. I think it is a grand table cover....if you are eating who is going to worry about points lost and tucks on the backside. At three feet away it looks fine. Applause for sharing.

Carol E. said...

Great story! It turned into a beauty of a quilt. The Ugly Duckling told in Quilt. thanks for the chuckles.

Lisa Marie said...

I really enjoyed your post! The gorgeous colors of the reverse side of the fabrics makes up for all the other issues! I have some Blueberry Park fabric too. It is so pretty but it does feel weird. Maybe I'll use the backs one day as well.

Joanne said...

Its beautiful. The front of the fabric obscured the design so you made an excellent design decision. The mismatches are no worse than my ringo lake messups.

June D said...

Very nice read. Beautiful in the end!

djquilting said...

I so enjoyed this story Louise. I think SNAFU wanted some attention and this was her/his way of getting it. All those snafus turned into a great quilt. Isn't it funny how everything looks great and turns soft and cuddly with a good wash.

Preeti said...

1. Great idea to use wrong sides of the fabric.
2. Love the pattern. I remember seeing the pattern by Sarah and made a mental note to try it sometime and then forgot about it.
3. Your FMQ is way better than mine.

Overall a beautiful lovely quilt. You have inspired me to try this pattern.

Fiona said...

haha, fun post. It is so easy to notice our mistakes when we are doing them... as you say the final result doesn't show them off... quilts are such forgiving things... I love the final result and agree that the back of fabric is sometimes the best choice
Hugz

Kathleen said...

Its funny, I ddin’t notice that with the Blueberry park but the use of the back is brilliant and looks perfect. Yes, you had many troubles along the way, but the finished product is a beauty - no one will know but us quilters and we won’t tell.

Jeri Dansky said...

I think the end product is a gorgeous quilt that someone will really enjoy using!

Vicki in MN said...

Well there you see you got all the blunders out in one quilt, now it is smooth sailing ahead, hehehe.

piecefulwendy said...

These posts are so much fun to read. What a great idea using the back of the fabric. The design is so cool, and you're right about all the movement. I agree with Vicki, you'll have smooth sailing from here on out!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Sew funny. Because that photo with the quilt holder looks like a perfect, beautiful quilt!!! Love it.

Sarah Craig said...

It. Is. Gorgeous! And it just goes to show that no matter how many things go wrong, a quilt will comfort you in the end. Thank you for sharing this - I have a huge smile on my face now!

KatieQ said...

It's amazing how one quilt can create such havoc and still turn out looking wonderful. Great idea to use the reverse side of the fabric.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

To me, that quilt is just beautiful! We, the quilters, see all the mess-ups up close and personal, but they fade into the "whole picture" for everyone else. I always think a trip through the washer and dryer can cure a multitude of ills! I enjoyed your post, Louise!

PaulaB quilts said...

This looks like the beginning of a new career for you, Louise, as the humor columnist for Quilters. Actually, I’m so impressed with the modern design and color combinations that never would have been without the backside. A great finish and a great story to boot.

Cathy said...

What a beautiful and “human” quilt! I have made (and continue to make) all of those misssssnakes! The quilting in the neighborhood of the ditch was hilarious (and relate-able). And that F word you may have used.... well, I may have used that one before too. (When no one is around, it’s one of my favorite words). A great post, Louise! (And I’ve had to use the back of my Blueberry Park fabrics, too, because some of them are just too TOO!)

Lisa J. said...

Hi Louise. Your quilt turned out great in the end. Thanks for sharing all the bloopers. I agree that using the back side of the fabric was the right choice.

JanineMarie said...

Well, Louise, that quilt pattern just glows with your reversed fabrics. I had so much fun reading this with all the things that went wrong for you. Your quilt really came through for you in your time of need for a relevant blog post. I say a good wash and dry and looking at your quilt from a galloping horse, or maybe a motor scooter, can solve any number of quilting problems. As soon as you said you used the backside of the fabrics, though, I thought one of your boo-boos would have been that you forgot and accidentally sewed some of them right side up. Did that happen at all for you? It’s a boo-boo I’m quite familiar with. Not that I would wish it on you. :)

Mari said...

This post made me smile! I love the quilt, and the corollary to your rule about not letting a quilt know you are documenting it is this-- never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry! I hope you enjoy this quilt for a long time, errors and all!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Love the story line in this post -- hilarious and so very down to earth ("real"). In the end, you have a liberated quilt with a story all its own and now it can go out into the world and be loved and appreciated without judgment for its troubled past. (great idea to avoid those sticky white ink prints - I hate it when they react with the iron)

Pam @ Quilting Fun said...

Great quilt! The pattern looks great, thanks for the shot of the back of the flimsy, very busy. Wonderful post, I also have oops on every quilt, I thought I was the only one, so thank you for sharing.

Sandra Walker said...

OH EM GEE I laughed my ass off this entire post! I think it's my favourite post you've ever written, eff bomb (off camera) and all, love it! Tug boats, snort! Same area code BAHAHA! (like me often still on the longarm; I still skate around a fair bit.... It's a wonderful quilt, no pig batting used up in error and all! :-)

Sandy Panagos said...

Oh, my gosh, you are too cute! I say, "Perfect quilts are boring!"

somethingrosemade14@blogspot.com said...

I am so glad you were able to use the Blueberry Park fabric. I saw that Kathleen gave you some so I thought I would add to it, admittedly it was not a favorite of mine. What a great idea by you to use the back side, after all it's Kona. Sorry to see that the quilting gave you the fits. You are so productive, my April production is not so great. Maybe I need some sunshine. Your photos are gorgeous. BTW, I thought I heard some foul language blowing in the wind. hee hee.