Tuesday, March 7, 2017

To Rip or Not to Rip

I just ripped off Shakespeare with that title, but he'll never know.  How do YOU decide whether to rip?  There are definite reasons, but these vary with the individual.

*Major mistake -  We probably all rip those out or throw the project in the trash.

*Poor product choice - You bought a product that looked and sounded really cool, but it turned into a disaster.  Read about my poor choices here.

**Poor color or fabric choice.

**Poor thread choice.

**Poor planning.


**You are unhappy with your work and know you can do it better

**You are a fussy quilter and strive very hard for perfection.
I could go on and on, but I did some ripping this week for about 8-10 hours.  That sounds like a lot of ripping, but I spent a third of the time tying knots and burying them, and another third restitching.  I did a really stupid thing.  While I was away from my sewing machine for two months I forgot some choices I had made before I left.

Initially I had improved my corners with an after-the-fact addition to the design of my quilt top.  This required a minor adjustment to my quilting design.  I had to flatten the circles slightly on top.  When I did the first panel I left out some little "horns," for lack of a better description.

The devil in in the details.  See the "horns?"
When I came home and started sewing again I barged right in, flattened the tops of the circles, but stitched the horns.  I did the remaining 7 panels in this manner.  When I came back to the first one I realized I had done those last 7 wrong.  Oh goodness me.  What to do?  My choice was based on the following:

**If I added the "horns" to the first one I would have to rip out a small amount of micro-stippling.  I decided that was more daunting than redoing the other seven panels.

**The "horns" were really hard to get exactly alike and symmetrical so there were variations that bothered me.  I imagine many people would never notice the diversity, but I did.

**With no "horns" the upper, squashed part of the circles look like a pretty, slender swag, but the design still retains the look of a circle.

Poor light for a photo due to heavy weather out the window, but I hope you can see the pretty swags.
TIP:  When you have been away from your project for while check your work before starting to sew to be sure you remember what you have done previously, or keep notes as you progress.  Some quilters actually keep notebooks as they go, but I don't.  I'm really good at ripping!

In the end, the decision to rip, or not, is yours based on your individual sensibilities and the purpose of the quilt.  Making a quilt for a child to drag around will lead you to different decisions than if you are making an art quilt for show.  I have ripped and I have repaired.  Today I will finish the last two corners, and then will block my quilt and bind it before doing the final quilting on a narrow border.  Eventually the end always comes when you persist.

TIP: Ask yourself these defining questions:  Is it more important to you how you feel about your work or is it more important to you how a stranger judges your work?  Some will make a choice.  Some think both are important.  I know where I stand.  What about you?

Sew lots of happy seams this this week.  I wish you no errors, but if necessary, easy ripping.


  1. One strip, recently, sewed upside down - time to rip out! We've all done it. Your two tips are very thoughtful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. The first quilt I started eons ago is still not finished. I took my first quilting class and everything was done by hand. The templates were cut using scissors, ruler, and template plastic. We used a pencil to mark the fabric. I have perfectionistic tendencies and know it. I have had to learn to let some of them go due to health issues or I would never get anything done at all. When I get tired, I absolutely have to leave my project right where it is and stop. I have no warning and all of a sudden I'm at zero energy. Back to the story. I selected a king sampler quilt for my first project. I had an appliqued interlocking heart block. I was appliquing the hearts down to the block and it was going well. From across my rather large living room, my husband told me that the hearts were not centered on the block. I told him they were. He asked me to get my seam guage and he would prove it. He measured and proclaimed that the motif was 1/16" off center. I was crushed that the block did not meet his standards. So, I quit on the quilt. I was lap quilting the quilt. Years later after my husband divorced me. I sent the quilt to my mother. She did not know how to lap quilt - only quilt in a frame. She sent it back. The quilt is still in my attic. That man and I did not speak to each other for over 15 years - not even at our daughter's wedding. After we got to a point where we could be civil to each other, I mentioned the quilt. He remembered it. He said he could not believe that I could get those hearts so closely centered. I was shocked. He added that he was always proud that he could tell when something wasn't centered or wasn't level. I had the "aha moment." Our marriage would have been totally different if there had been more communication and less interpretation of the intent - on each of our parts. I thought the block did not meet his standards and he was proud of what I had accomplished. I never thought I did anything to his standard. Now, with my disability I have learned to be less critical of myself and just be glad I can accomplish what I can. I gave and gave and gave and burned out early. It's fine - if I had not done what I did, I might not have survived some of the challenges. I'm here to enjoy four precious grandchildren. I never saw my mother quilt. She sewed and sewed and sewed clothing while I was at home. My father would rip and rip and rip out things for her. I just cannot imagine ripping 8-10 hours and yet I'm sure at one time I would have done that. Good job and thank you for sharing. Susan

    1. Your story is that of many marriages I suspect. I have been married 58 years to a wonderful man, but he interprets his world so differently than I do mine, but we have learned (obviously) to live with the differences and laugh. As to 8-10 hours of ripping, be aware that it was not all in one sitting. I actually spread it over a week - so not too bad, but the results please me so it was worth it.

  3. Very good advice Mardi. And how frustrating. I try to take a picture and make notes before I roll it up on the frame. That way I know what I did when I get to the bottom half. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    1. Someday I will learn to either take notes, take pictures, or check my previous work more carefully.

  4. I rarely rip - more likely my solution is to throw more thread on it but I don't do such amazing detailed quilting as you do.
    Popped by from Let's Bee Social.

    1. That is a great solution for some kinds of quilts. My next project is mostly threadworm....maybe.

  5. I am in awe of the talent of long arm quilters! Though I didn't see your mistake (I'm fairly new), I can relate to ripping! I have thrown out just a few blocks/projects. I let some mistakes slide and others I rip out.....it depends on how big the mistake is or my mood. :)
    I decided to make friends with my seam rippers - and buy the cutest or funniest ones I can find. Might as well have fun ripping!

    1. It pays to have a good, sharp seam ripper. My daughter made me one and it is the best I have ever had. BTW I quilt on my BabyLock sit-down machine. No room for a long arm in my house.