art, learning, quilting

Don’t think “strange” think epic!

As a quilting instructor/pro quilter/award winner it’s hard sometimes to complain about the process of a quilt in progress.   I have guild members and friends but the blog, the blog takes a different tone.  Everything goes all  Miss Merry Sunshine when it sometimes it feels all  Little Shop of Horrors.

And this is one of those quilts with a hard deadline, due in 11 days (yes I’ll get it done) and I have to wait to share it with you.  However there are a couple of things I can share with you now that are principle based rather than specifically about this quilt.

Marking transfers sometimes happen in places they’re not wanted.  The original design was drafted on paper, including some of the quilting thoughts.  I used a Sharpie pen on the design paper the design being completed 2 days prior to marking the top.  As I transferred the design some of the ink bled through to the surface.  It’s minor, I can cover it up with stitching.  This was step one in this particular quilts alternate title being earned.

debby brown 004Trouble happens even on well planned, well basted quilts.  So I’m stitching along with a particular thread and it breaks.  This happens occasionally I was a bit surprised because I’d done a lot of stitching with this thread.  I clip, bury and get ready to start stitching again.  Stitch 18″ and it happens again, this time I notice that the thread is wrapping up around the needle.  It’s  bit odd so I go through the diagnosis process: rethread the machine, clean it out, drop of oil, make sure the tension isn’t too tight.  Get started stitching and find that I need my “bang head here” mug rug that I gave to Debby Brown when I saw her for 3 minutes in Houston.

I get started stitching again and 18″ in the same thing happens: thread shreds, wrapped up around the needle and I see a bit further up the thread path that the thread is un-twisting.  Hmm.  I check for burrs in the stitch plate, I change machines and once again…

Now, because this particular color is essential to the design and it’s a serious thing I take steps to remedy this.  Customer Service with this particular company is off the hook amazing!  Now comes a plan change as all of this thread has to get sent back.

Renee has thread I might be able to use, it’s similar in color. Thank you Renee!  I stitch, stitch, stitch and break.  Rinse, repeat.  Now I have to change plans entirely.  I start stitching with a different color and the thread breaks 8″ in and now I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with me, my machine, the weather, my hair color, batting, fabric.  I grab my favorite quilting tool, my seam ripper, take out the stitching, get started with another color and voila it’s all good.

As evidenced by the uber-talented Lisa Sipes  you can quilt that out (Cathy Miller, You can Quilt that Out). Well a bubble developed right over there —>  Yes, it can be quilted out, it can look fine but really?! Seriously?!  There in a conspicuous part of the quilt/design.  Really?  Well obviously yes, and with some patience it can be quilted out.  I really didn’t want to be patient.  Not really, I wanted this to just stitch beautifully and go easily well.

thumb 001Using the wrong size needle if the tension is balanced will produce pokies on the back of the quilt.  HINT use the correct needle for the thread as laziness will bring out the seam ripper.  Did I mention the deadline and the really dense quilting?  Why yes, I did.  Rule of thumb: don’t be lazy on any quilt, it’s not worth the time ripping it out.

Over the last few days I’ve been moaning and groaning to Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero and another friend cause I’ve needed to express my frustration with what’s happening with this quilt.  The quilt is really fine, really.  Jeanie said, “Don’t think ‘strange’ – think ‘epic’! Here’s to pushing ourselves outside our creative comfort zone and emerging stronger for it on the other side.”  I’m changing the thought process from “unruly” which has a clearly negative connotation to “EPIC” which stresses the beauty of the process and the quilt.

Listen to the quilt.  I’ve learned with my quilts that I must listen to them.  When I don’t there’s trouble.  The quilt needed something here and there and the quilt is going from causing me grief to working itself out.  Sigh.  Truly I know that I need to listen sometimes I just don’t know what the quilt is saying.  It’s hard to listen when I’ve got a lot of territory to cover in a short amount of time.  Well the quilt gave me a time out – I broke 5 titanium coated in less than 20 minutes.  I walked away for the rest of the day – which felt very unproductive and yet I know that the time away is essential when inspiration comes and I can continue in a way that I wasn’t planning. I know that in a few areas I need to use warmer colors and change things up a bit.  I’m finally hearing the quilt.

I frequently express gratitude for my sweetie I’m heading up to quilt shortly and he’ll take care of the meals today.  He’ll encourage me though out the day and perhaps even make coffee for me once again.  I can not thank him enough.

A final note: all quilters whether well practiced or newbies have issues with quilts.  With any art it takes time to learn the process, it takes a willingness to make mistakes and figure out how to fix them.  Asking for help is important – even when we don’t know how to phrase the question to get the help we need.  The answers given to the question will get a quilter thinking and working on problem solving in a way that will prove highly effective.  We can not get around the process.

Happy Quilting!





7 thoughts on “Don’t think “strange” think epic!”

  1. So is there an epilogue here-what happened with the needles and the thread-is there a diagnosis? Thank you for sharing-I have days like this too and for me it’s usally Operator Error, grin!

  2. sounds like the quilter did not want that color and the universe was letting you know. I feel your pain. FYI….when I was machine shopping ooooooooo so long ago, every single time I played with a Bernini, the needle broke. I listened, I bought a pfaff. happy stitching. oh, on your giftee, I should’ve listed to it too but I didn’t and I had to unfix a fix. lol

  3. Oh so familiar a story! I sometimes think it must be something outside of our understanding, like solar flares, or the spin of the Earth. 😀 May your future be full of smooth quilting.

  4. Ugly about the thread and needle breakage. Wish I lived closer so that we could have had a quick trip around the block. . .or at least to the local coffee shop!!!

  5. We have all worked with the “epic” quilt!!! It usually does mean stepping away from sewing room and getting a change of scenery, fresh air, nourishment!

  6. I tell ya. Thanks. Love the posts and the links to Lisa. My word I guess is FORWARD… In everything I do this year I have to move forward and not look back. As for listening to the quilt and broken needles. My oh my is that so true. Lol. You are awesome and oh Soo TERIfic

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