Monday, February 16, 2015

Mistakes. Who me???

You don't make mistakes on your quilts, do you?  I have asked the Quilt Fairy to eliminate all mistakes from my sewing machine.  She is probably hovering over my sewing room laughing.

I have been working on a quilt for over a year now and have tackled both large and small design flaws and outright errors.  One afternoon I did a really stupid thing.  I was quilting some long, narrow spokes with a line of diamonds down the middle.  I did five spokes and when I was done, I scrutinized my work and then realized I had used the wrong color thread.  I do Art Quilts and like to show them.  If that quilt had been for a child's bed I wouldn't have worried about it, but for a show quilt I am sure the judges would ding me.  Besides, it would drive me crazy so I swallowed my pride and did it over.  The rest of my daily sewing time was spent taking all those little stitches out.  Lost afternoon.

TIP:  Do I really need to say it?  Make sure you have the right thread, right needle and right tension before you start quilting.  It is much more fun to quilt than to rip!

Even for an Art quilt there are some errors that I will let pass. In the same photo (above) you can see that the the curl at the top of one feather goes one way.  The next one goes the opposite direction.  Well, they were supposed to curl the same way, but I decided to leave it rather than take it out.  God doesn't make all flowers grow the same direction.  Do you think the judges will notice or care?  We will see.  I think it adds a bit of tension and interest, like putting a dab of orange next to magenta.  Most people won't even notice it anyway (I  hope).

TIP:  If you like it, leave it. It is a judgment call. If judges don't like it, consider it a lesson learned, but don't leave an obvious mistake just because you are too lazy to take it out.  You can wait until tomorrow when you are fresh or work in front of tv to take your mind off the disappointment of having to rip out tiny stitches.  You will be happy when you redo it right.

I was busy quilting away when I came to a corner on this same quilt and discovered that a small block was set in slightly off kilter.  Where was the Quilt Fairy when I did that?  The diagonal seam was 1/8 inch off where it was supposed to meet the intersection of two borders (see the drawn line in photo below).  The seams were sewn, stitched in the ditch, and decorative quilting stitches had everything fastened down tight.  It wasn't just an issue of ripping out a few stitches on a top.  A technical error like this is a magnet for the judges' eyes and can cost you a win.

This was a BIG MISTAKE and was a bear to fix.  I took out the quilting on the two borders and the little block, set the block straight, hand-sewed the seams, and replaced the quilting......and it was still crooked with the added disgrace of a bow in the blue border.  I re-ripped the hand work and quilting, but more this time.  Then I grabbed the bottle of Elmer's School Glue, and with a vengeance set the borders accurately into a measured 90º intersection and secured them with glue.  Then I took a pin and moved the offending block until it's seam was accurately placed in the corner, glued it and ironed the glue to set it.  Ahhhh, looks good.  Finally I re-did the seams by hand and re-quilted.  Success!  I don't have a before photo of the corner, but you can see the final result.  It took two afternoons to twice rip and repair, but I am pleased with the result so it was worth it.  Sometimes my bulldog genes shine!

TIP:  Don't wait until later to discover an error.  Check your quilt top carefully as you sew the seams and again before you assemble the quilt sandwich.  It will pay dividends in time and frustration.  I will take my own advice next time, believe me!

TIP:  Follow the above tip to make life easier, but if you do mess up, be assured that there is usually a way to fix it.  Appliqué can be a great coverup, but obviously it wouldn't work on the problem in this particular quilt.  Sometimes you may need to ponder the problem to arrive at a solution.  Let your brain percolate and get creative.  Then put on your virtual overalls and get to work.


  1. Wow, you have some dedication! These are all great tips. Thanks for sharing about your experience! And good luck with those judges!

  2. Argh! I hate ripping out, but sometimes it is necessary, says she who is going to spend some TV time unstitching several rows.

  3. My condolences. Just do it carefully!

  4. Oh, wow! Great job working through it. Thanks for sharing your tips.