Saturday, April 5, 2014

Things I know but Choose to Ignore... Confessions of a (Supposedly) Experienced Quilter

I like to delude myself into thinking that I am way past making the quilting blunders that I may have made years ago. I mean I have learned a thing or two along the way...

(Nice, unvarnished quilt top before I defaced it.)

For instance, I know that you need to carefully smooth out your backing, batting and top then baste all three layers together very well. So how come on this quilt I ignored that "baste very well" part, and instead settled for "Hmm, it could use more pins, but that'll do"?

I know not to machine quilt when tired. So how come I decided to start quilting this evening, even though I was indeed tired?

I know that if the quilt top or back is puckering, stop! Something is not working as it should. So how come when I saw, (right into the first couple of rows) that this was indeed happening, (on both the top and the backing fabric) I just kept on going... I actually told myself that it wasn't really a big deal. WTF?

I know that good quilting takes concentration and time. So why was I plowing through the task and not paying attention to the fact that this quilt top, (that I just spent a good week putting together) was getting increasingly distorted and sloppy?

How come, (when I really did pay attention and truly saw how bad it was getting) I choose to repeat and follow that untruthful quilter's lie... you know the one..."Just keep going, you can quilt the wrinkles out" when I know from past experience that at least 7 out of 10 times you really can't.

And why, oh why did I start and stop every freakin' row, (all 54 of them, each 4 feet long... which equals 2592" or 72 yards) with little itty bitty stitches that I back stitched over several times, ( I will tell you why... because I am such a conscientious quilter and I don't want my threads to unravel). Of course I did this with the full knowledge, (gained from past experience) that should I have to rip any of those rows of stitching out, I will never be able to undo those itty, bitty, backstitched ones without ripping holes in the fabric. Now how conscientious is that??

So now I have a mess of a quilt. Not only is it a distorted mess, it is also very difficult to fix... besides those itty bitty stitches at the beginning and ends of each row, the whole backing is a homespun woven fabric that the stitches have simply disappeared into! It took almost two hours just to rip out 5 rows.

Now, what to do? I really liked the top. So, do I spend the next few days ripping out stitches, straining my eyes and making my hands ache? Or do I let it go, wasting what was a pretty top, and lots of fabric, along with my vision of what it could have been?

Ultimately it doesn't really matter, because the most important lesson here is that the quilt isn't what is important. (I mean it is just fabric and batting and some time spent. No big deal in the scheme of things.) What's important is re-learning the lessons that I knew, but choose to ignore, as well as some new lessons. So I thank this mess of a quilt for teaching me and reminding me...

~ To slow down and breath.

~ To stay in the present moment.

~ To do it right, (lest you re-do it later.)

~ To remember what I already know, (and apply it to the situation).

~ To not believe my ego when it tells me it knows better then my inner voice. (Inner voices always know best!)

~ To be kind to myself when I forget and screw up. (That's how we learn, and relearn, and remember.)

~ To be  conscious. To be aware of what I am doing, and why I am doing it, and my attitude while I am doing it.

~ To remember that a good attitude in any situation goes a long way! Nothing is worth doing with a bad attitude, (and no quilt is worth saving if it will make me a miserable person in the process!)

~ Shit happens. Accept each situation with love, make the best choice you can in each moment, let go of what doesn't work and move on to something better.

25 comments:

Emily Carnes said...

Oh man, so sorry to hear that you are not happy with your quilting job. I've done stuff like that to projects when I'm in the wrong headspace, it is a tough call. is it really that bad? would you consider donating it? Thank you at least for sharing your experience and learning.

Emily at backtothecraft.blogspot.ca

Sandi said...

At the finish of this adventure you will have a lovely quilt to enjoy for a lifetime and remember the challenges that made it one of your favourites. Persevere and enjoy what you are namakingl

Jo Jo said...

I have done all of these things too! I'm not a patient quilter and I'm not brilliant at quilting, so I always try and get it over with as quickly as possible. I love your quilt top, it's just delicious. Definitely worth spending some time to get it right, in my humble opinion :)

Catherine said...

It's your call, but maybe the thing to do is put it away for a bit, then do a tiny bit of unpicking once in a while until it's done. It is a lovely top, and maybe it won't be as pristine as it might have been after unpicking but it will still be beautiful! Whatever works for you - I'm inspired by and so admire your determination to take something useful from this:-)

9patchnurse said...

Ack!! I've been there. I made a poor thread choice once. Even after I saw how bad it looked, I kept going for a while. I was quilting feathers too which had a lot of overlapping lines. That quilt went into the naughty corner for a couple years. I finally took it on a couple retreats and my friends helped me rip out the quilting. Phew, I hope I learned something there.

tutto a posto said...

I am so sorry. I on the other hand cannot figure out what I am doing wrong when these things happen because I think I am following the rules. However, about your quilt... I am not sure I remember correctly but after Boo Dilly passed didn't you get another dog? Maybe he/she could use this for his/her sleep space? At least you could still see the beautiful fabric with its gorgeous colors and know a loved one is getting joy from it.

dolores said...

Hahaha...sorry I laugh but...Haha...I feel your pain! I did the same thing with something small last night...the backing tension messed up but I kept going...but my piece is so small!

Hmmm....ever thought about sacrificing the batting and cutting in the middle of the sandwich through the batting a little bit at a time? You just have to make sure you aren't cutting though the top and bottom and use little scissors. Better than trying to rip them out and I feel you NEED to do this right or it will bug you forever.
BTW...I have a necklace on with one of your fabric beads...I knew I was going to get on the computer and see a post from you!;)

Rumi said...

OMG! So sorry hearing such bad news.
I always wandering what quilting to do. And when have done almost whole quit still wander about. Sometimes I think I spoil the perfect top with quilting. The most proper thing now is to leave it for day or two, make another successful small project and then go back to this. With higher spirit.

beth said...

This story could have been written by me...MANY times. ;)

QuiltSwissy said...

LOL/ I am still learning the long arm work, and I totally screwed up a perfectly nice quilt two weeks ago. In the end, i just gave up and continued the bad job.

I used to like that quilt top! LOL.

I am right there with you!

glen in Louisian

Wonky Patchwork said...

It is a very beautiful quilt top, so I hope you can bear to resurrect it in some way.

Venus de Hilo said...

Oh yes. Been there, done that. Most memorably with a kaleidoscope top that looks fine from the front, but is horrible on the back. All due to embarking on pin-basting when tired and impatient, which led to willfully ignoring the fact that some stretches of blue tape had unstuck themselves from the floor far too early in the pinning process to be any kind of good news. IMO life is too short to unpick quilting of any kind, so instead of heading for my Etsy shop, that quilt now hangs in my front hall. Of course I had to banish it to the deepest darkest depths of a closet for over a year before I could look at it again, but absence really did make my heart grow fonder. Now I'm glad that it turned out to be a "for me" quilt.

Patti said...

It's so beautiful, I hate to see it abandoned! Maybe invite a few friends over to help (bring your own seam ripper),load them up with chocolate and liquid refreshment of their choice, and have at it!

Jane S. said...

The only reason I can chuckle about that is because it isn't happening to me...this time. It's happened plenty of times before though. What are we thinking when we do stuff like that??

Gosh it's pretty though, isn't it? I love the browns and pinks together.

liz said...

I think your quilt top is gorgeous.
I love your honesty in sharing this.
I wish you had also shared photos of the quilting you are so upset about. I love piecing improv quilts but am very very inexperienced at quilting them. I think that I, and others, could learn a lot from seeing photos of what went wrong.
Thanks again for sharing. I do hope you can donate the quilt, finish it to your liking, or make it into a pet bed as someone suggested. It's too lovely to just toss, in my opinion.

Createology said...

Your post is very important to remind us all to do the things we "know" better to do and take the time to do it right. Creative Quilting Bliss...

smazoochie said...

We are such willful creatures, especially when we take our own advice.

Naomi Olson said...

Now there is a blog post I can relate to. :)

Nifty Quilts said...

Oh boy, have I been there! I'm constantly learning and forgetting the perils of attempting to rush through and cut corners. Quilting has so much to teach about having patience, slowing down, delaying gratification--none of which are my nature. Sometimes I ask myself, "Do I make the quilt or does the quilt make me?" I think the latter is most true.

Marty Mason said...

Send it to me....I'll help you rip. I love your quilt top and know it will be something you'll be proud of someday.

Barb said...

Simply OUCH

Michelle said...

You're brave to be so honest in a public forum! I could tell a very similar story about the first quilt I ever started which years (and several quilts) later is still unfinished. I have decided that I will redo it entirely, down to un-piecing, trimming, and re-piecing the entire king-sized disaster.

I chose this path after I did a piece of goldwork embroidery that was supposed to be sewn into a box-shaped Christmas ornament. Although the embroidery turned out beautifully, I ruined the sewing. I thought it better to let go of the past and just throw it away. About 2 years later I found the embroidery in a drawer. My husband found it in the bin and thought I would regret throwing it away so he fished it out and kept it. Isn't that sweet? So now it sits proudly on the inspiration board in my studio, reminding me that as much as I love a successfully finished project, there are little moments of beauty and success even in projects that go terribly wrong and these can be celebrated for what they are without worrying about the end. I think the thing is not to punish yourself whatever you decide - let go, carry on, whatever makes you happy. That's what crafting is for, isn't it?

Corinnea said...

Oh goodness, I have just done the exact same thing. I am thankful that I was able to get my lines out without too much hassle, but I'm not done kicking myself for letting my tired mind talk me into thinking it was ok to sew while tired!!

I do love your quilt!!

Annabella said...

Oh God, I do these things every time I quilt!!

Marie said...

Yikes, I've done all these things too!! It's the impatience lol.

Excellent advice in this post. When that little voice says 'stop', we should listen.