Monday, February 17, 2014

The Quilt That Didn't Want to Exist

I have been trying to think of a project that was more frustrating than this one, and I don't think there is one. I actually started whining about it here. Pretty much every step of the way I had issues that made me want to toss everything into the snow and wipe my hands of the whole sordid affair. But I have this thing about defeat, in that I refuse to let it happen to me. So I persevered. I feel like I just ran a marathon with no training, but it's all done.


To start, I decided to make this quilt entirely out of equilateral triangles, for which I bought a ruler (you totally do not need one but I like my gadgets) and cut the largest size. I snipped off each point of each triangle (because I feel I read somewhere that you should do that), then I convinced myself that had to be wrong so I read the pamphlet that came with the ruler. Following the instructions, I snipped off only one point of the triangles (which, yes, involved each triangle having to be retrimmed (and therefore shrunk), and then spent an evening crawling around on the floor laying them all out.


Then I proceeded to sew together the triangles. I had two rows done (almost forty triangles) before I realized that only chopping off one point would lead to all points being munched when all rows were sewn together. So from that point forward I had to chop the other two points off of each triangle as I sewed (which, yes, shrunk it just a little bit more). My mother took pity on me and volunteered to rip stitches for me while I sewed on, an offer I readily accepted. The points then came out perfectly.


Finally all rows were sewn and the edges trimmed. I had originally thought this would be a throw, but had way too many triangles, so I upped to a twin. Which came out small due to my mishaps, so I had to use some leftover bits from when I cut the triangles to bring this up to twin size as it was entirely too big for a throw. OK, so finally the thing was up to size, albeit a bit hodge-podgey. Time to quilt.


I proceeded to quilt by stitching on each side of each seam. The horizontal seams were fine. I had used a million pins so the back was nice and smooth, for a change. But when I got to the diagonal seams my machine balked and fussed and threw a tantrum. I put it through its paces to make sure nothing was wrong with it, and the only thing I can chalk it up to is the sheer weight of this thing. It is really quite heavy for a twin quilt. I had a lot of skipped stitches and aggravating bits happening. There was a lot of stitch ripping, a LOT of cursing, and a lot of restarts. The only thing that helped is when I put on my standard foot instead of the even feed, and the stitches came out beautifully after that. Go figure. I'm not pleased with the tension on the back, and I imagine myself having recurring nightmares over this thing just falling apart out of nowhere, which is the level of irrationality you attain when you're determined to force a project into existence.


From the beginning I was determined to do a scrappy binding. I had bought some matching solids which didn't get used in the body of the quilt, so I chopped those up into all different sizes and stitched them together with the seams facing differing directions to mimic the bases of the triangles. I couldn't have planned this part better, but somehow the last color and the first color in the pattern came together at the end, so the color pattern flows throughout. I chose to use one of those multi-colored threads in yellow and orange for the binding, as well as my asterisk stitch (again). I have a snowflake stitch that would have matched perfectly but the other stitch takes long enough. I didn't want to hit retirement age before the binding was finished. I ran out of thread about halfway around, and had to go out during a snow shower to get more (as waiting for the storm to pass was not an option at this point), but it was finished in due order.


Next I wanted to make a pillow sham, as I had cut all the little gnome shapes I could out of the fat quarters, but couldn't find a good spot for them. The original plan of a double-sided throw was out the window as this was now a bed quilt. I was going to just applique them to the quilt top, but I didn't want them to blend in too much. So I made a matching sham. I used Heat 'n Bond to fuse them, then stitched them to the fabric. I was going to cross-hatch quilt all around the gnomes, which I did. But then the gnomes in the center were all loosey-goosey. So I decided, even though I have never been successful on practice swatches, to free-motion quilt the gnomes. I did everything but their faces with some atrocious swirly stitches, but as long as you don't get too close they look OK. I forgot to lower the feed dogs, and found out you can FMQ with them raised. But now I'll live in fear that I killed my sewing machine by doing that.


I put on the exact same binding and used the rest of the multi-colored thread to bind the pillow, and now that it's all done I do like it. But it has mentally exhausted me. I need to put it away for a while so that when I see it again it will truly delight me, as I know it will.


After all that, one thing after another, no step going as planned, this thing came out pretty much as I envisioned (plus a scrappy border). The oopsies are things only I know about, and the overall effect has the color and cheer and vibrancy that my soul hoped would happen when I hunted down this line over a year ago. There is certainly a lesson in this quilt somewhere (beyond the geometry missteps I made at the cutting stage). Something about perseverance. I'm just too tired to figure it out right now.

Even my photo shoot had a kink. I had a volunteer who decided this was made specifically for him to practice his yoga moves on.


Usually the dog plops himself on everything I make, but this time it was the babycakes (he had slept over the night before).


He even decided when the photo shoot was over. My Plan A was to do this out in the snow, but the sun was out and the reflection off all the white was just too dazzling, so I had to haul it inside. Babies are better accessories than snowy footprints, anyway.

OH! And one last bit. The backing is a gray sheet from Target. I couldn't find backing I liked, so I shop bedding when that happens. I couldn't find any individual sheets--only sets. Tucked in amongst the bed skirts was this gray, full-sized flat sheet. The only one in the whole store that I could find. On sale. Even the batting was on sale. You can seen how a person would start out hopeful that a project was meant to be, right?

Have you ever had projects that you felt would send you to an early grave? Did you toss it in or keep going?

Linking up here:

20 comments:

  1. Oooh, but it turned out beeootiful!

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  2. I have a confession to make. The quilt I was making that inspired you to buy this fabric? Yeah, it's *still* just a quilt top over a year later. The shame! It needs to be long armed though, it's mahusive, and I've been too lazy to get the back pieced and go to Stirling to the machine...

    Yours does look fab though, and love the wee gnoma cushion - you'll be pleased to know that there are some people that swear by FMQ-ing with their feed dogs up, I think it just depends on your machine, mine won't actually let me!

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  3. Well first of all let me say that this quilt and it's gnome (does that rhyme slightly with Janome, no not at all) pillowcase are frankly amazing. Like, I am so impressed, I am blown away. Free motion, are we now?! Gnomes? Too entirely cute!!! Multi-color binding with multi-color thread, you teach me something all the time, never heard of it. And what about those * stitches! I'm going to look on my Janome in a minute to see if I can make those! The gray sheet just simply rocks, the quilting swiggles rock - the whole thing is positively amazing. I'm not making it up ... amazing. And re: your question, yes I am doing the Lori Holt from Bee in my Bonnet Quilty Fun quilt-along right now and it is challenging me out of my head, like it takes me three days to make one 8x8 patch. But, yes, I am very determined as a person, and although I have literally ... literally! ... torn out every seam I've put in, I will not quit!!! Cuz you and me, we're just like that, we just don't quit. And totally off topic, have you read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayer? I got it at the library and it's pretty great. And it's a NYT Best Seller. And since you're not too far from NY and all ... oh yeah, that has nothing to do with it. Well, I'm a chatterbox little woman today, let me stop and leave room for someone else to make a comment :)
    Great Job, Bee ~ Mary

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  4. I love the multi-colored binding! And the whole quilt is beautiful, and just completely happy=)

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  5. I only have one word! AWESOME!!!
    xo Kris

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  6. I adore both the sham and the quilt! They are so stinking cute! Haha the dog, I had no idea how silly dogs were until we got one; ours also likes to come lay down on everything: clean laundry, dirty laundry as long as it's cushy!

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  7. oh no, what a nightmare. That sounds like me making anything! I have a minimum of 2 disasters per project. But it turned out great, it looks fab, especially the binding!

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  8. I'm a quilter also and this is beautiful. I may have to try a triangle one.

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  9. I think if you put that on the bed in the middle of summer, you would feel instantly cooler!
    I have some of that fabric and you have me thinking about what to do with it. Great job.

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  10. It was worth all the grief, it's beautiful. Such pretty colours and the stitch used on the binding is perfect.
    I must say you certainly are determined I think I would have tossed it. I'm not one to persevere with things. The either have to come out right first time or else bye bye.

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  11. Okay, you didn't kill your machine by leaving the feed dogs up. I quilt on an older machine, and the feed dogs don't drop. It makes it much harder on YOU to quilt with the dogs up, but not the machine. Sassy Quilter is going to have a triangle Quilt Along, and now you have me terrified to do it. I think you're supposed to put the flat tip on the top of the row?

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  12. I feel with you, I just finished a quilt that was like that. Lots of ripping and it nearly made me give up quilting. But your quilt turned out beautifully in the end!

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  13. Congratulations on your perseverance, it turned out perfectly! I'm going to go see if I have a snowflake stitch now, I love it so much on your binding. And the gnomes are just too cute. I'd never know by looking at the finished quilt that it gave you any trouble at all.

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  14. This is so pretty. I love the stitch on the binding.

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  15. In time you will look back and love this quilt for all the lessons you learned along the way. But, I have done things like this also, and just needed time out. Your quilt is beautiful and your pillow shams couldn't be cuter! Your binding is excellent! Wow! Fantastic job on the whole quilt. Have not tried using a sheet for the back, but what a great idea. Might try that later myself.

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  16. Wow! Congratulations for sticking with it! The quilt is fantastic! The triangles look great. Love your special stitches in the binding!

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  17. I've been there. You were right to keep going. It is beautiful. My Swoon quilt was that way for me. Glad you stuck it out and finished. The gnome cushion is adorable.

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  18. The quilt is just beautiful! As much problems it gave you it amazes me that you still kept at it and continued to be more creative with it! Love the binding and the decorative stitching. The pillow sham is so cute too! You were definitely destined to finish it even driving through snow for thread to finish it!

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  19. I just love how you applied the binding with the special stitch on your machine. I have a very simple Janome but it has those type stitches and I rarely use them. I'm already planning my next quilt to have a solid binding so that it could show off this kind of stitch. I bet it takes a bunch of pinning though to get it to all work out correctly, but it would keep me from handstitching the binding down. WIN !

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  20. The gnomes are adorable! I love the quilt and the sham! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing at Submarine Sunday!

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