Hot Mess Christmas Quilt
I made a quilt and everything went wrong.
Maybe you’ve done the same. It was an exercise in frustration but I learned some things, and some of the most egregious mistakes won’t be evident to others.
It started out with improvisational (another way of saying “make it up as you go”) house blocks from an exchange. They were adorable and they’d been in my cupboard for too long. They reminded me of Candy Land and I thought they’d make a great little Christmas quilt for my new Jingle Bells trunk show.
The backgrounds are all black so I went shopping for Christmas fabric with a black background.
I found these candy canes at The Sewing Basket in York, Nebraska—a great quilt shop and Bernina dealership, about 90 miles away. I fussy cut strips and sewed them between the houses and it seemed like a pretty good start.
I tried rows but I wondered about placing the houses around a town square. In this kind of work, you have to keep asking, “What would happen if…” or “I wonder how it would look to…”. Being inquisitive is at the heart of creativity.
I decided to keep all of the houses upright, so I took them apart and reconfigured. I don’t stress over un-sewing because it’s part of the creative process. If you never sew anything together out of fear that it won’t be right, you’ll just be stuck all of the time!
So I knew I’d have this big hole to fill at the center of the quilt, and a Christmas tree lot seemed like a good idea. That’s when I thought about decorating trees with selvage dots! I’ve since come up with a better method, but on this quilt I was working out the kinks. In my eagerness to light the trees, I didn’t put fusible on the back of the trees or determine how to piece them into the background. Big mistake.
I thought they looked wonderful in spite of these design flaws so I just plunged ahead.
I plunked them onto a black background and zigzagged around the edges with green thread. It wasn’t pretty and it still isn’t.
See how ragged the edges are? Not ideal. I made some wonky stars for the corners and I love how they seem to round things out.
Here’s how it went together. The differently-sized houses were a challenge, as I didn’t want to trim off any important parts. So the sashing strips didn’t really come out straight.
Not so good. But…carry on.
Then I had this idea to use colored thread for quilting on the black background to create “ghost” trees. Which was fine except that I used invisible thread for much of the quilt because my machine quilting is just so-so. And that wasn’t really a great decision because it looks like it’s only half quilted.
Next time I will make the thread plan ahead of time.
The wonky stars were the last thing to be quilted. I have a hard time with negative space and I resort to meandering much too often. Because of all its woes, I named it Hot Mess Christmas.
But you know what?
Finished is better than perfect.
I resolve not to point out the errors to others.
This goes into my new Jingle Bells trunk show!
You can hear it in Seward, Nebraska on Nov. 20 when the Blue Valley Quilt Guild meets, or in Hastings, Nebraska on Dec. 7 when Hastings Quilters Guild has their holiday meeting. Maybe your group would like to book it in 2018 or 2019? Give me a call today! I’d love to share more than three dozen Christmas quilts with you!
Tags: block exchange, Christmas quilts, improv piecing, improvisational quilting, jingle bells trunk show, scrap quilts
Diane, until you pointed out the flaw I hadn’t notice them. We are the worst critics of our own works. I’m so inspired by what you did with our house exchange you motivate me to something with mine. I received a couple of Hallween houses so I guess I’ll be doing one with that theme.
Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.
This is adorable! I’ll bet the kids from Peanuts live in those houses.😊
Well, my friend, if you were going to make all of those “errors”, this was the quilt for it, because they are really improvisational design decisions. Except the wonky sashing intersections. That error I’ll give you. But honestly, even that kinda works in this quilt. 😉
I love your “Hot Mess”. Maybe someday I’ll get to see one of your trunk shows
It looks beautiful, can’t see the mistakes. I loved . Thanks for sharing
I agree, done better than perfect. And if you hadn’t pointed out the problems I wouldn’t have noticed them. I love the idea of the ghost trees. That added so much. And your quilting will get better the more you practice. ; – )
This quilt has personality with a capital P! I love looking at the different house blocks, they are so fun!
Maybe if I saw it in person, I’d notice all the flaws you pointed out but I doubt it. I think it’s a great quilt. I just finished making a whole lot more baby windmills. Once I put them in a quilt, I’ll send a picture but I’ve got a bunch of other scrap blocks to make first so it will probably not be until after the holidays.
Ooh, I can’t wait to see them! And thank you for your kind words, Diane.
I absolutely love it! Well done 🙂
I love this quilt. In spite, or maybe because of, its flaws, it is whimsical and so much fun!