Thursday, May 7, 2020

Some quilts give me fits

I'm going to be perfectly honest.  Some quilts are just a pain and refuse to cooperate.  I love every project when I start it, but there are a few projects that I just can't love all the way through the process.  I'm having trouble with one right now.  I have second-guessed my decisions at almost every stage.

You might remember this one.  I made the first block in January 2017.  Was it really three years ago?  I guess you can tell I lost my momentum.

I did enjoy making all the blocks in 2017.  The trouble began when I had to choose a setting.  I posted about that in November 2017, and I'm afraid I'm still as unsure of my choice now as I was then.  Looking through my ideas, some of the ones I discarded appeal more to me now than what I finally settled on in January 2018.  Maybe I'll be happier with my choice once the quilt is quilted and I scallop the border as I planned.

In the meantime, the butterflies are giving me fits.  I felt I didn't have the FMQ skills to do what I wanted, so I tucked the quilt away for a while.  When I finally learned how to use my quilting rulers I thought I was all set.  The ideas were flowing, yet once the quilt was basted I came to a standstill, again.  I had trouble getting the ruler foot over some bulky seam intersections.  The background was less open than I remembered, so my wonderful ideas wouldn't work.  The quilt went back on a shelf.

I finally pulled it out again last week, determined to finish it. I have a little bit of work to undo.  This poor blue butterfly has mismatched wings.  Last year I was sure I wanted concentric circles in the top wings, but after stitching that on one side I wasn't sure anymore so I auditioned something else on the other side and couldn't decide which to keep.  I neglected to finish the second lower wing and when I picked it up again last week I used the wrong ruler so the curvature doesn't match the other side.  So, I need to decide what stitching stays and what gets picked out, then finish this little blue guy.

I do like what I stitched in the orange butterfly, with clamshells in the upper wings, though this was my second attempt, and there was much unladylike muttering both as I picked out stitching and as I wrestled over some thick seams.  A hammer may or may not have made an appearance to flatten some parts...  The thread broke as I was almost finished stitching one lower wing, and that's when the quilt went back on the shelf last year.  I still need to stitch that last wing.

When I pulled the quilt out of timeout last week, I made some progress.  I really like what I managed to stitch in this blue/aqua butterfly.  I also had no trouble at all stitching in the ditch, no bulky seam issues at all.  Either my machine settings were not properly set last year, or this block is just flatter, but this was a much more pleasant stitching session.

At this point I started regaining momentum...then my creativity tanked.  I could not figure out what to quilt in the other six butterflies!  I told myself not to give up again.  All the butterflies needed stitching in the ditch around the wings and body regardless, so I worked on that for a while.  With just one and a half butterflies left to ditch-stitch, the pink one gave me grief.  The thread broke multiple times and somehow, even with my quilting ruler, I couldn't seem to keep the stitching in the ditch.  I quit and went to play with paper and pencil to figure out what to quilt in the background.

These concentric circles gave me more grief than I expected.  I've stitched these with success before on other projects, but this time around I struggled. The spacing between the circles isn't consistent and there are multiple jogs in the arc because I was pulling and tugging in ways I shouldn't have, and I forgot to center the needle in the ruler foot so it wasn't stitching in the right place to give the result I wanted. I suspect I should not have been sewing at all that day! It doesn't look too bad in the picture, but I finished this stitching session rather discouraged.  My enthusiasm for this quilt is fading rapidly again!

I'm going to go catch up on my temperature quilt, then try to come back to the butterflies.  I am clinging to the hope that once I finish it I will love it again!


  1. Some quilts just do not like to play nice, I agree! But you seem to be learning from your choices (I'm not going to say mistakes!) and, in the long run, will be better prepared for the next challenge. I know that is little comfort right now, but I've been there. I feel your pain. Maybe eat some chocolate before you go back to it?!

  2. Bonnie's blog one day last week said, "No one is perfect. That's why there are rippers!" Your quilting is always perfect in my opinion, but even you are permitted not to meet your own expectations every time! It all looks great to me. If you think yours looks bad, I guess I better not show the one I'm working on now! ---"Love"

  3. I remember this quilt well. Love those butterflies.
    Choosing quilting designs is such a challenge, and it is always frustrating when they don't work out and have to be unpicked. You are being tenacious, and I hope it finally works out to your satisfaction. It is a beautiful quilt!

  4. I remember when you made the blocks! Has it been that long? I thought you had finished it. It's interesting how your quilting tools have changed so much from when you first started. Good luck with the progress!

  5. Sorry this one gave you such a hard time. It needs to "talk" to you more, maybe! I love the colors and the butterflies. Taking another time out may help the ideas flow more. It is a pretty quilt, hope you can figure it out!

  6. I'm sorry you're so frustrated! It is such a cute design, I hope you get your mojo back to finish it and love it again soon :)

  7. Oh my goodness! All kinds of corny butterfly sayings were running through my head while reading this. None of them apply!! After all the timeouts this quilt has had, you'd think it would have learned to behave by now, LOL!
    Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

  8. Is it really that bad? I know that you like to challenge yourself so I expect you might be a little more critical of your efforts than you probably need to be. Says me, who struggles to quilt a quilt because I can't decide on a design or worry about how it will look, when I really just need to give it a go. I guess if you want to show quilts then the standard does need to be higher but mine won't so there's no reason to hold back. I love the layout of this quilt, especially the scalloped border but also the setting blocks around the butterflies. It's a super quilt and the butterflies look like they are floating across it. Here's hoping you fall in love with again.

  9. This is how UFO works, one day you will find the great way to finish it ;) Pretty quilt by the way, your butterflies are very beautiful

  10. I would never even attempt to quilt perfect circles. I have trouble figuring out what to quilt as well. And I rarely remove quilting stitches - unless it is absolutely necessary. I'm sure we all have quilts that give us fits. Sometimes, they stay in the closet forever.

  11. I think your Butterfly Quilt is SEW pretty! Perhaps, give yourself a bit of grace when it comes to the quilting. From here, those concentric circles around that green butterfly look PERFECT!!!

  12. Good Morning from Oregon,

    I’ve been surfing the net for temperature quilt ideas. Lots of interesting stuff but the one that stuck with me the most was your pattern. Thank you for writing the instructions and posting them for free. I have my fabrics but haven’t decided on the degree colors just yet. I’m doing 2 quilts - the year I was born and this year. 1970 and 2020. This will be my 50th year and what better way to celebrate than a beautiful temperature quilt.

    Thanks again. You have a terrific blog.


  13. I remember when you were making these blocks - it's such a lovely design and a shame that it is giving you such a hard time - top marks for getting it out time and time again. I am sure the anguish will be worth it!!


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