I don’t always get scrappy quilts right. This week I got one really wrong.
I had time to sew over Christmas so I pulled out a UFO (UnFinished Object) with a Christmas theme: Tannenbaum by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.
There are 10 elements making up the Christmas tree, and I had three done. But it’s not a large quilt so it seemed doable, especially since it was snowing and blowing and I’d not be venturing out soon.
I opted for rickrack handles on the baskets (which led to a half day of reorganizing my rickrack collection) and that went pretty well.
I’d had the good sense to buy pre-cut applique shapes with the fusible web already added. I think they’re worth the money.
I made steady progress and was feeling confident. My reds and greens were just scrappy enough. My plan was to go scrappy with the backgrounds too, which looks fine in the rows.
But when I started adding the backgrounds, everything took a nosedive. Do you see how the backgrounds don’t really blend together? It appears to have columns on the sides. The floral backgrounds don’t blend in at all. The tree doesn’t stand out nicely from the background either.
You might wonder why I didn’t stop right there. Good question.
I didn’t want to unsew and lose the progress I’d made. The finish line was in sight. Surely I could salvage it! I bulldozed forward.
I decided that for the tree to show up, I’d need to outline the sections. Rickrack would be the solution. I toyed with using several colors of green (above) but decided on just one deep shade.
This is where it currently stands. I don’t think it works.
So what went wrong?
- I didn’t make the backgrounds in the piecing lighter than the backgrounds for the tree. See how that works in the pattern image, below?
- The backgrounds should have all been more similar.
- They should have been placed randomly instead of symmetrically.
- I should have stopped sooner, as soon as I realized it wasn’t working.
What are my options at this point? I could:
- Leave it unfinished and chalk it up to lessons learned.
- Put it on my guild’s garage sale in February.
- Take it apart and fix it.
- Add an interesting border to distract from the center.
I don’t love any of these options and right now I’m just really unhappy about the whole debacle. What would you do? Please leave me a comment.
On the plus side, a valuable takeaway for me as a teacher is this:
Doing scrappy well is not easy, and I will keep learning about it for as long as I make quilts. It’s even harder if you have never tried it or you’re not confident that you can do it.
If this experience makes me a better teacher, more patient and more compassionate toward quilters who struggle with scrappy, then it’s a win. Because now I know for certain that no matter how many scrappy quilts you’ve made…
Scrappy can go crappy in a hurry.
And there’s not always an easy fix.
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