Monday, January 20, 2014

in a hurry = failed

 what do you do with a messed up quilt you were going to gift - donate it? that seems wrong somehow. if it's not good enough for me to gift, why would i donate it? that's just another form of gifting. but maybe if i pick my cause carefully, whoever receives a donated quilt will be a child who might not notice some really bad fmq. that's my thinking.

two weeks ago, i made a very pretty baby quilt top, that i was supposed to hand deliver while in florida last monday. i was sorely in love with the top, which was a very special quilt for a very special mother and baby (story later). those lottie da fabrics were simply scrumptious, absolutely dreamy to work with. do you ever have that experience - while cutting and sewing the fabrics you find yourself getting lost in the colors, cooing over the designs, smiling in a sappy way, thinking, "this is delicious!" it feels like eating dessert as you work . . . but it's fabric. yes, heather has done it again for me. lottie is that good! i was 100% happy with the top, which i completed by wednesday of the designated week i had for making it.

however, i completely ruined the top with some horrid fmq. and i do mean horrid. there is no one on the planet who can talk me out of that opinion. it still looked horrid the next day, although i admit not quite so completely, terribly horrid after a week away from it.

i was going to just straight-line the darling, but decided to do some wishbone quilting in the white strips. if i'd stopped there, i'd have been fine. alas, i did not stop there. somehow i reluctantly convinced myself there needed to be patterns in the colored strips, too. and that they should each be varied.

***disclaimer#1 - all the remaining photos are purposefully underexposed (dark) because i still haven't figured out how to get fmq to show up against white or patterns in a photograph.

***disclaimer#2 - i know that the photos don't show how really bad the quilting is. you're going to have to trust me. normally, i'm not that picky. i say leave it unless you absolutely can't live with the mess. this is one of those messes. truly, it's that bad! perhaps if it wasn't such a special quilt, i could have lived with it.

 my fmq skills consist of stipple, some if-y straight lining, and the wishbone. well, i was on a deadline and didn't want to practice first. couldn't, really. my over-confidence with my stippling went to my head and i decided it couldn't be that hard to just come up with some swirly, twirly, loopy designs as i went along. i didn't even bother to reference any of the 3 or 4 excellent books i own for ideas. nope. i just bulldozed ahead. the wishbones in the white sections went well enough. i'm getting pretty good with them. it was the improvised colored sections where i everything fell apart.

making well-curved, pretty loops and swirls is not as easy as i thought it would be. it's not just about doubling back on your stippling. and i ran out of ideas fast. the two spots where i knew i had made an irreversible mess were the pink strip below and the scrolls/swirls:

 on the pink, i started by just following the dots between the scroll bits, making a sort of zigzaggy pattern. this was okay until the pattern started shifting across the strip, which wasn't noticeable until i outlined it. about 2/3rds the way down, i flipped sides i was tracing, and tried to join up the two sections with going completely around three scrolls. this only resulted in some very poorly executed diamonds and one great big mess. this whole strip either needs to be unpicked or . . . i don't even know. there really isn't an option here. unpicking is required. painstaking unpicking for hours, i'm sure.

those scrolls/swirls in the other section above the pink are just plain ugly. they aren't even close to well shaped, consistent, or smooth. lumps everywhere, malformed points and curves. i'm sure even most men would notice. (men that don't quilt, of course. no offense to our stichin' brethren out there.)

so, here i am, with a failed quilt, humbled quilting self-confidence, hours of unpicking ahead of me, and most of my fabrics gone, while i'm fabric fasting, of course. dear liz got me out of the last conundrum. whilst i was crying across the oceans to her via email, she sent me this consolation, "Ps - of course you can get more lottie da. it's not new fabric, because it's like an insurance claim and merely replacing what you had :-)" my conscience has been soothed and replacements ordered. technically, this doesn't go against my personal clauses for the fast. but i was hoping to make it more than 20 days in before finding a "need" to purchase.

also, i had no quilt to deliver to my friend. being something of an idealist, i had it all worked out that it was simply perfect for me to take the completed quilt with me to florida and get pictures with lucy and the baby, too. letting go of that was hard. i was a bit of an emotional quilting wreck last saturday as i ran out of time before departure. liz and my mr helped me get over myself and put it all in perspective. i spent time with my kids instead of making corrections, left for my business vacation with a soothed conscience, and enjoyed it all despite the mess i'd created. turns out i couldn't meet up with lucy anyway, so now i can remake the quilt to perfection and mail it to her.

thank you, liz, for the shoulder to cry on and perfect blend of empathy and snap-out-of-it sound advice. quilting friends are the best! maybe when i get the replacement made i'll be able to guest post on your 10 super simple baby quilt series.


  1. It's just quilting!!! If I threw out every quilt with bad lines and swirls I wouldn't have many left. And I've been quilting for over 3 years. You used a light thread and it really isn't that bad. Perhaps you think so since it was for a gift. But it is well worth donating (I've seem much worse donated by beginning quilters). In a class I took on quilting the teacher said: it is almost never worth it to rip out your quilting. I know someone will enjoy your quilt - wonky quilting or not. Don't be so hard on yourself!

  2. Ok, you have to believe me. IT'S NOT THAT BAD. If it was, I would still console you but I wouldn't lie. That's something I really try not to do! :)

    I would definitely not unpick it if I were you. That's like torture. I think it is absolutely beautiful for donation.

    I had some quilting troubles myself this past week. I think it's the hardest step.

  3. Call it a practice quilt and donate it with a clear conscience. The quilting doesn't look that bad and a non-quilter will never know what it 'should' have looked like. It only looks awful to you because you stared at it so intently for hours and because you have a vision of what you wanted it to look like. No one else will judge it so harshly. Besides, the fabric is lovely.

  4. Like the others have said,the quilting is in no sense of the word bad. Practice is the way to go and the recipient, Lucy will not be stuck on your quilting. She will be too busy drooling over the fabrics you chose and thinking how thoughtful you are to have made her a quilt!

    Cheer up friend:)

  5. My old Granma had a saying..
    A man on a galloping horse won't notice -
    and she was right.
    Only perfectionist folks would notice that kind of 'quilting freestyle', may not be as PERFECT as the Quilt Police might insist on?
    The fact that its been lovingly made for a particular bairn means far more than whether you wobbled when you might have hoped for streamline stitching!
    Besides with its quirks it already has its own social history provenance, whats not to like about that!

  6. Seriously, is she the kind of friend who'd receive your beautiful quilt and then closely examine it with sighs and frowns because it wasn't absolutely perfect? That doesn't sound like the kind of thing a dear friend would do. In your situation, I'd call her, tell her the deal and wait for her reaction. I'm willing to bet she'd say she didn't care if the quilting was wonky, what she cared about was the love that went into making it. Sister, make peace with this beautiful quilt and send it out to do what it's meant for.

  7. I can only echo what's already been said. I know it's heart breaking when it doesn't look like you want it to, but if they're not a sewing person they'll never know. If you want it to be perfect for a gift then definitely donate it and make another for your friend. Donated quilts don't have to be perfect. Not because they are worth less, but because the most important thing about donated quilts is their function. I saw a post the other day about quilt donations to the homeless... Do you think they care about whether your stitches are perfect? Or about being warm on a cold night?
    I vote, don't unpick. Bind it and give it to someone when needs it. And then make something else for the bubby.
    E xx

  8. Hydee, it really is not terrible!! But i understand that your opinion of it is what really counts. Here's what I would do- wash and dry it. Once it crinkles up, you won't even notice it, and then donate it! Honestly, it is a lovely quilt, and whoever receives it will be overjoyed. Some of my most cherished quilts have been handed down from family, and I know they are really full of "mistakes." It's charming and that's what makes them handmade and not mass produced. Even if you gave it to your friend, I'm sure it would be loved because it came from you. I have learned that non-quilters usually can't spot the things that we worry ourselves over.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  9. I have some old quilts I have used forever, and only when I learned to quilt did I even notice the stitching was pretty off. is seriously not bad!!! I know what you were aiming for so you're disappointed, but no one else will notice. As a donation, that thing will be loved to pieces:) or just send it to me:) you gotta just go for it sometimes!

  10. When I was back home over Christmas, I looked at some of my favorite childhood quilts and they were FAR FAR from perfect. But I loved them sooo much. I'm sure anyone who received it will not even notice. But I totally understand the feeling of wanting to give a perfect gift. I feel like a little piece of me is sent out in each quilt and I want that piece to be good. Thanks for sharing this and I hope you feel more at peace about it :)

  11. Well I don't think this is nearly as dire as you said! I would be delighted to feature this very quilt on super simple baby quilts!!!! Although I would prefer if you put some binding on - just saying ;-) Everyone else has said it just right, so there is nothing for me to add except that I'm not entirely sure that it is fair that our quilting skills are not as immediately awesome as Angela Walters. How rude.

  12. "A man on a galloping horse won't notice" is a new adage for me and I love it:-)
    The fabric is so gorgeous on your quilt, it is hard to notice much else, and washing will help it all come together, but I do understand your disappointment. I rarely get to gift a quilt in person, and I feel when I am giving something of myself it should always be my best work possible.
    Reading along your post, I had visions of you and your crew sitting around the quilt, each with their own seam ripper - A glorious SplishSplashFamily-Ripper-Bee so to speak:-)
    And what images it would make for a post!!
    OK, I am kidding of course!

  13. it never ceases to amaze me the torment we put ourselves through...

  14. Are you kidding? I think your quilting is fine!!!!


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