Quilts in the Doghouse
I’m not going to talk about the pandemic. We’re all frustrated. So…
Let’s Talk Quilts.
I’ve been finishing up some things the past few weeks. I have a lot of UFOs squirreled away in closets and cupboards and it would feel great to be done with them. And, BONUS, some of them can go into trunk shows! I have extra time because my engagements with guilds have been cancelled for April, May and June.
Two quilts I finished this week gave me pause. One was My Christmas Album, above. It’s a great design by Tina Curran with fusible applique and a border of Christmas sweaters. But when I took the final stitch, I didn’t feel anything good. I felt all manner of royally ticked off.
Similarly, when I finished Seven Sisters, above, I didn’t feel elated that a UFO from 20 years ago was at long last done. I felt annoyed. Sullen. My husband came into the studio with a cheerful ‘hello’ and I groused.
At that moment I paused to wonder why I was so out of sorts. Finishing a quilt is usually a reason to celebrate! What the heck?! And here it is:
These quilts are in the doghouse.
That is to say they’re in disfavor with this quiltmaker. Both quilts presented enough problems along the way that I am permanently mad at them and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. How did this happen?
I am unhappy with the candy canes at the center of this quilt. I wish I’d used fabric with more contrast. They could be so cute but they’re anemic. When I noticed it early, I wasn’t up for remaking it. I decided it was good enough. But it made me mad.
Then I tried machine quilting it. I added quite a lot of quilting to it not once, not twice, but three times and each time it looked horrible. The problem was that I didn’t know how to quilt an applique-based design. Finally last week I just went for it and decided to live with whatever I got. But my anger had grown.
The last straw was when I added the binding and discovered that my placement of the corner sweaters was too low. There is no margin so they’re crowded against the binding.
And it’s not just one sweater. GAH.
I realize that the quilt looks okay to a casual observer and that it’s a cute addition to the Jingle Bells Trunk Show. It’s FINE. But I’m still mad at it.
The journey to completion of Seven Sisters was similar. Things went smoothly in the year 2000 when I pieced it. But then I started quilting, which was about 10 years ago. I didn’t have a good system for pin basting so the layers weren’t smooth and even. I quilted for hours before I realized there were huge pleats on the back. I ripped all of that quilting out and set it aside.
Then about a year ago I rented time on a longarm at Calico Cottage in Hastings, Nebraska. When I unfolded the top to load it, we discovered a sizeable right-angle tear in one of the black mourning prints. It’s near the center of the photo above. I took it home and fixed it the best I could before I hauled it back to Hastings for quilting, again.
And just when I thought I was home free, as I’m applying the binding, I notice frayed raw edges and batting visible on the quilt front. Who knows what happened? I did a rough darning job and called it good.
I don’t think I’m ordinarily an angry, bitter person, but these quilts won’t be in my good graces any time soon. I’m going to fold them up and put them away, far out of sight, in hopes that next time they appear, I’ll be in the mood to forgive.
Tags: doghouse, machine quilting, scrap quilts, trunk shows, UFO, UFOs
Whatever happened to finished is better than perfect????
Normal is okay. Happens to all of us.
Who hasn’t had this sort of experience? They could be useful as examples of how to improve our quiltmaking, things to look out for. I certainly need a lot of advice in that direction. Hope your next quilt finish brings you more joy!
Perhaps your feelings about your quilts have more to do with the current situation than the quilts. It’s helpful to have an outlet for our feelings during these trying times and the quilts can take it.
Would these quilts be from the era before ‘antique Valentines’ that you sent away, long ago and far away, and came to live at my house?
Think of golfing cows, hamburgers and hot dogs.
A thought on the “anemic” candy canes….could you outline them with a black pigma marker to make them stand out? Or even use a black blanket stitch that doesn’t go thru to the backing? That is such a cute quilt that I hate to see it stuffed away, unloved. Since it is the center of the quilt, perhaps they would stand out if embellished with hot fix crystals….. I’m seeing this as a design opportunity!