My entry is in the mail. It's not the one I planned. Yet it's done, and on its way to New Hope, Pennsylvania. Yes, that's really the name of the jury venue.
"Welcome to the Jungle" is not done yet. With one week remaining before the Denver National Quilt Festival entry deadline, I feared I would not have been able to finish in time (which I would not have), and I worried I might encounter another wave of unfavorable emotions if I were to give up two consecutive years without even trying.
Out came the remnants one more time. Cut, cut, whack, whack, oh what a big kick this is! Could I finish another (small) quilt in a day? (To which The Lizard responded: "I thought you weren't going to make any more wall quilts...")
This one is called "Running Out." Because I was running out of bright green thread. I was running out of bright green floral batiks. I was running out of time. And I was running out of patience.
The size of the smallest batik remant determined the size of the squares (4 inches) to comprise the new quilt. The periwinkle, lonely and forlorn after not being selected to round out the bigger quilt, would be chosen this time to pull the green floral elements together. I once again would try my hand at free-motion quilting.
I had 26 green floral batiks. Wonderful! I could throw out the nearly white one I never liked and use the rest for a five-by-five block pattern. Plain jane grid aside, this would be fast and easy to whip out. Yet embellishment ideas, as well as layout deviations, began percolating in my head before I even finished cutting out the squares. Nevertheless, I could score a finish even if it means a quilt show rejection. (fingers crossed, but the possibility does exist)
While piecing, I decided I should do at least one thing different so the quilt wouldn't be quite so ordinary. Initially, I thought it would be fun to put the main portion of the quilt off center, then do some fancy schmancy embroidery, perhaps even with beads and crochet, on the biggest border. But time was running out, so in the end, it's just an off-center quilt. Well, it's also done, which makes this little wall quilt somewhat out-of-the-ordinary in our house right now.
I finished cutting out the pieces in about two hours. Assembling the individual squares took another three hours. The squares were all joined and pressed in about an hour more. I wanted to use the ugliest of the greens for the backing just to get rid of it, because I will never use it in a dress or skirt or bag. It's just too ugly. But I didn't have quite enough.
So I used the second least desirable batik. It's not that I don't like the design of the fabric; this particular fabric was much stiffer and thicker than the others. I didn't even use it in the dress two years ago because it doesn't drape well. Nevertheless, it is a pretty fabric. I even had enough fabric left over for the quilt sleeve, which I finished before I put the quilt layers together. The sleeve was trendily geared to sew into place way before its time!
Another hour later, the little quilt was on the frame and ready for basting.
Basting the quilt sandwich turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Quite literally. The lean I put into basting felt really good on my back while I was doing it, which took roughly three hours. When I was done, just like last June after a full day in the garden, I could not move.
I guess it's a really good thing I didn't try to whirlwind baste "Welcome to the Jungle" in a day!
My wall-quilt-in-a-day would now require two days. I had to give my back a break before I could finish.
At the last minute, I decided I ought to practice my free-motion quilting before attempting the real thing. I didn't want to waste the day I'd put into my substitute project, and I didn't want to waste the quilt top, either. It turned out rather nice, in my opinion, even if it is rather routine.
I pulled out last year's still unfinished snowflake quilt to free-motion a section of that. The next hour was about the most frustrating of the entire weekend. Didn't help that my back was too sore for me to sit for long periods of time. Running out of time further soured my attitude. And then I sewed over my finger. Owie.
last year's triumph
this year's ugh
The snowflake quilt section would not glide through the machine artfully, no matter how hard I tried. Good thing I'd already decided the snowflake quilt would see the light of day only when covering our bedroom window during the cold streaks of winter. I may one day rip out the practice stitching I did, but for right now, I don't want to see the snowflake quilt again for a very long time. It's buried at the bottom of the scrap stash.
I turned to the internet to try to figure out what I'd done wrong. Why was the free motion not free??? Turned out I had forgotten one tiny little setting on my machine.
I made the adjustment and attempted the real thing on the real thing. I then spent the next 90 minutes gently and patiently pulling out my stitching.
I'd intended to wrap the squares with leafy vines, outline an ornate tropical leaf in each square, then "draw" one of our indoor tropical plants on the large right-side border. The idea still looks good in my head, but I'm just not good enough at free-motion quilting yet to pull off a display-quality quilt.
While I was first cutting the initial squares, I wondered how it would look to quilt them with circles. After I finished ripping out all the failed free-motion stitches, I machine stitched a circle on one corner of the quilt. I then echoed that circle all the way out to the edges, and the entire quilt was quilted in about 70 minutes. Not bad! Perhaps not quilt-show quality, but pleasing to my eyes.
The binding and sleeve were a snap, and a co-worker whipped out a label on her embroidery machine for me in a night.
There's no guarantee "Running Out" will be accepted into the Denver National Quilt Festival. It may be judged just too darned simple. Too easy. Too every day. But it's done. And it's submitted. I feel very good about trying to make it into this year's show.
The biggest lesson I learned in this little sidetrip is to never, ever look at a quilting magazine after rushing through a lackluster quilting project. Talk about intimidating! Also, keep fingers safely away from presser foot while machine is in operation. Period.
One of the very helpful things I found online while trying to figure out how to set my sewing machine for free-motion quilting was a quote from Leah Day: "Stop stressing about perfection. Perfection does not exist past 25 inches! Actually, make that 5 inches."
Last year, when I gave up on trying to meet the Denver National Quilt Festival deadline, the decision was easy once I realized quilting is supposed to be fun. Not a nightmare that keeps me up at night and prevents me from doing my best at work and as a wife.
I am getting back to fun now. Except for the owie on my finger, the owie in my back and the ugly spot on the snowflake quilt, "Running Out" was a joy to conceptualize and complete.
I think I will hand-quilt "Welcome to the Jungle" now. It still might make the Quilts at the Capitol deadline. I will be able to enter it in next year's Denver National Quilt Festival without deadline stress, although I may continue trying to put a quilt together in winter because the process is such a great tool for fighting depression. And a great way to use up stash.
Next on my machine, though, I think, will be some mending that's been waiting too long. Maybe I'll make a new dress. (Which means... MORE REMNANTS FOR MORE QUILTS!!!) Or finish a dress from last March I couldn't navigate due to the cast on my right wrist. Or (drool, drool) maybe I can finally work on that leaf quilt, also featuring dress remnants. More scrap quilt top designs are lurking in my creative juices. Because destashing can really be quite the adventure!
Sew much I want to make, and sew little time!