Today I’m confessing some of the mistakes I’ve made while making quilts. Sometimes you can be creative and fix mistakes. Other times, we just need to embrace these imperfections and learn to love (or just live with) them. In either case, our quilts are handmade and imperfections are just part of what makes them so special.
Here’s something that I’ve heard that I’m not sure is true or not— Amish and Mennonite women put a mistake in each quilt because only God is perfect therefore it would be prideful to make a perfect quilt. Whether true or not, perfection is incredibly difficult to achieve. Let’s just vow to have fun with the process of making and learn something new with each quilt that we make!
This week on Whole Circle Studio LIVE! I we chat about these snafus:
Thanks to a miserable quilting experience that was caused by my basting, this Circles in Squares quilt looks a bit different than my original design. When I started quilting, the layers in my quilt sandwich weren’t smooth enough. I was fighting with puckering and pleating. I persisted and powered through even though a voice in the back of my head told me to stop, rip out the quilting, and start over again by basting better. After I finished quilting, I was really disappointed. I took a break from the quilt and put it away for a couple of weeks. When I returned to it, I still felt the same. I took a closer look and noticed that most of the unhappy pleating and puckering was in the areas where the white met the orange.
My solution was to cover up those pleats and puckers! I made bias tape from the leftover green fabric, carefully hand appliqued around the curve, and then machine quilted next to the edges to make the new applique a bit more durable.
In the end, there are still some minor pleats and puckers in other areas of the quilt but I’m able to live with them. Plus, I like the overall design of the quilt even better with the addition of the green detail—something I probably wouldn’t have added if it wasn’t for the issues I was having. Here is a mockup of the original design without the green bias tape:
It was after this project that I decided that I couldn’t keep basting the quilts the way I was, crawling around on the floor in a small room that barely fit my queen sized quilts. Check out How to Baste a Quilt (the easy way!) video tutorial.
Have you had some less than perfect experiences with basting and quilting? Is there a way to you can cover up the parts you’re not happy with?
In 2018 I was commissioned by my local Arts Council to design and create this quilt, Lift Up. Read all about the project and process here. While quilting, something from the machine that looked like oil transferred on to the white areas of the quilt in a few spots. To this day, I’m not sure how this happened since it had been a while since I had oiled the machine.
Like I’ve done in the past, I removed the minor small stains before with a drop of laundry detergent, water, and muscle. What I didn’t realize this time is that I was using a different brand of detergent. The next morning, the quilt dried and I thought I was seeing things. The original spots were removed but the areas that I cleaned were glowing and were almost fluorescent. It was then with a bit of online research and reading the label on the detergent carefully that I learned about optical brighteners.
The spots stood out so much that I seriously considered making the quilt again. I had about a week before my deadline so that would have meant working non-stop with little sleep. After talking it over with Jason and doing a test on a piece of scrap quilted fabric, I decided to optical whiten the entire background of the quilt.
I set Lift Up on my porch and essentially cleaned and scrubbed the entire background with drops of the detergent to even out the white color of the fabric. This was a full day’s worth of work. I then washed the quilt to get any excess detergent out and threw a Color Catcher (affiliate link) in to prevent any of the solid colors from running.
In the end, the quilt looked great and everyone was happy with it. I now know to carefully read labels and be extra cautious on what products I use on my quilts and clothes. My favorite products are Soak Wash and Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent.
Have you had something catastrophic happen with a finished quilt? How can you adapt it, dye it, or perhaps cover up those areas?
Have you ever been so excited to piece a quilt that you rushed through and didn’t realize your mistake until it was totally quilted? This is what happened to me the first time I made a sample of my 6 Foot Ruler quilt.
I typically don’t worry about small piecing mistakes. For the two 6 Foot Ruler quilt samples I made after this one, the ones being photographed for the pattern, I was sure to slow down a bit and check on progress as I was going along!
Do you see the mistake I made in the quilt on the top (in the image above). I was so excited to piece this quilt that I improperly arranged the line blocks at the top. They are upside down!
Have you made a piecing blooper? If you’re having a hard time embracing it, are you able to make it again and even better a second time?
Wonderful lesson in patience when problem solving. What increments are in the ruler?I have been seeing a bit of buzz for your program this afternoon. I know everyone will enjoy your work.
Hi Patricia! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. The 6′ Ruler quilt is slightly bigger than actual size (so the increments are 1″ apart). The finished quilt measures approximately 75½” x 12″, a generous 6′ tape measure that will shrink when you quilt it and be closer to 6′ long. –Sheri
Aren’t the spaces marked wrong in the rulers. You have divided the spaces up into 12ths. Never saw a ruler with 12ths.
Hi Mary Ann, Thank you for your comment! You’re correct—the 6 Foot Ruler quilt isn’t a literal copy of a ruler. The spaces between the feet indicators are broken up into inches (instead of fractions) so that it can be used as a growth chart. Each line is very close to 1″. Many thanks again, Sheri