Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Fierce is Your Bulldog?

All kinds of people make quilts.  Some are more motivated than others about different parts of the process.  The vast majority of us make quilts for pleasure and the amount of time and care spent meets individual needs and goals.  What about quilting gives you pleasure?

I know a person who decided she didn't want to spend time being really careful.  She said, "I am not going to worry about points anymore."  So she doesn't worry about the tip of a point that gets a little clipped.  Her quilts are beautiful.  She makes quilts to be used and washed frequently and we all love them.  They do not have to be perfect in every detail.  That's OK.

Some make quilts for charity using donated fabrics.  The perfection seen in these quilts runs the gamut from quick to time consuming.  One lady told me that this allows her to do the sewing she loves without having to spend her money on fabric.  The important aspect of this kind of quilting is the potential to sell and raise funds for charity and from that is derived additional pleasure and accomplishment.

There are many talented quilters who make a business of quilting.  Those with longarm machines see tremendous variation in the quality of their customers' quilts.  Some clearly have no knowledge of "proper" techniques and their blocks don't even meet at the seams, but they love doing it or they are doing it for love.  Other customers pay to have beautifully constructed quilts quilted by a professional.  Still others prefer to do it all themselves, not wanting to share the glory, so to speak.  Pattern-makers transpose their quilts onto paper that others can make the same quilt.

I have one daughter who wanted to join the family enclave of quilters.  She made the attempt, but came to me one day to say, "Mom, I'm sorry, but I just don't enjoy quilting."  I am sorry she put that pressure on herself, but her considerable, artistic talents show in every other area of her life.  She just doesn't like to sew.

There are some of us who have fierce inner bulldogs and go above and beyond to achieve perfection. This can be frustrating because it is an unattainable goal.  So goes my quilting with a lot of ripping last week.  Why?:
  • I wasn't satisfied with what I had done.
  • I tried a new idea on the actual quilt because I didn't have a suitable tester on which to work (quilting the spiral).  I saw a portion of it that could turn into a more interesting sub-design.  Satisfied now and glad I re-did it.
  • I stitched a bunch of motifs with the wrong color thread.  Just plain careless.  
I have an insatiable bulldog in me, but I still can't achieve perfection.  It's the same when playing piano.  There are some small glitches here and there that I consider too small to bother with considering the time it takes to rip carefully.  I have been known to use permanent marker to hide a small defect where possible. However, if a glitch bothers me I leave it overnight, and if it still bothers me by the next afternoon I pull out my ripper and redo it.

Ripping is really time consuming because you have to pull out enough loose thread beyond the defect  to tie off the ends on both sides.  Then more ends to tie in after you re-stitch the affected area.  Sometimes it is worth it and other times it is not.  How do I rip?  It depends.
  • For quick and easy (not much danger of damage) I use the seam ripper to cut about every third stitch, top or bottom.  Then I yank the uncut thread from the other side and all comes undone.  The downside is a lot of tiny pieces of thread from the cut side.
Pretty obvious right?
  • If you need to preserve enough thread to tie off the ends, use the seam ripper to cut one stitch on top and one on the bottom and then carefully pull the thread out of every stitch.  Sometimes you can pull two or three stitches out at a time without breaking the thread.  When you have enough out to tie a knot, do so and bury it.
  • For really touchy spots where there may be other thread in the way such as SID work or tiny stitches I do one stitch at a time, using the top thread to pull the bobbin thread loop to the top , then slip the top thread out of the loop.  This can be done from the back if  you choose.  This is slow, but very safe.
Once the loop is up (red), pull the green thread free of the loop.
Do the same for each stitch.
Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you no reverse sewing.


  1. Reverse sewing - a necessary evil in life! Thanks for sharing this on Midweek Makers

  2. The only thing less fun than ripping out stitches in a quilt is ripping out a seam sewn with a serger.

    1. Oh yes! I don't have a serger, but I have tackled a few serged seams in my day.

  3. I like how you started this post, talking about how we each choose to focus on what is important to us. Each of us has a line we won't cross when it comes to "mistakes" in our quilts, after that we rip rip rip. It's a very good idea to let it sit overnight before making that decision. I should probably do that!!

    1. To be honest I will go ahead and rip little jobs right away, but the big ones need some pondering to come to terms with the enormity of the job and what needs to happen if I take that time i.e. what I will do to fix it and if that can be done.