19 March 2013

A Woman's Prerogative

sew square

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.

lunchtime sandwich

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...")

Running Out

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.

size determiner

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)

Layout Decisions


Revenge of the Periwinkle

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.

not quite enough

Destashing Joy

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.

circles and squares

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.

heart me
last year's triumph

sad heart
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.

hem away

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.

Intimidation Central

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!

Turquoise Love

Think Spring!

Needs Buttons.  And Buttonholes.

The Dress, and The Quilt-to-be


  1. Lots of interseting patterns indeed, today at your feed.

    1. Thanks, Pat, for checking them out.
      Nothing like crafting to make smiles sprout!

  2. A talented seamstress you are! And I love the unconventional fabrics: delightful and colorful!

    Great blog - I have checked it out before via Mrs. M and was pleased back then as well. Can I follow the "google" way without emails? I am not good with emails. ;-)

    1. Thank you, Astri! I've been a follower of your blog for a while, too, through Mrs. M. Wonderful how she brings people together! As far as I know, you may follow me any way you desire. I have put no restrictions on following. I get so behind on emails, too, so I understand more than you know!

  3. New Hope isn't too far from our home. Hoping you hear good news

    1. Stratoz, I have New Hope for New Hope News after recently reading a quilt show review documenting the wide variety of quilts on exhibit, from easy to extremely complicated. Maybe this might possibly perhaps conceivably perchance get in... (fingers and toes still crossed)

  4. I just love the colorful photos. Oh dear, sewing over the finger sounds painful...

    1. Thanks, Neferi. Yes, it was painful. And I had to completely bury it in bandages to keep from getting the quilt bloody! But the owie is healing nicely now.

  5. phew...... Everything you do turn our so beautifully. I wish you luck on the festival. :)

  6. I really really like this quilt. It's so perfectly balanced, and I admire anyone who can do asymmetry (being a slave to symmetry myself). It's not at all too simple - it's elegantly minimalist. The curved quilting is just right, and that thread colour really pops against the periwinkle.

    Had to laugh at Brett's comment about wall quilts ... we have too many of them too. But they're such fun to whip out. And yes, deciding on a block arrangement can take longer than sewing the quilt. :)

    What a very gorgeously intimidating quilt that is in the magazine....

    1. Thank you, Sue, for my best comment all week! You made me smile all over!

      You also made me feel maybe this little quilt will get accepted. I didn't think something so easy could ever stand half a chance. You made me feel like it's something special, even though it was simple.

      You're right; I had as much fun playing with the arrangement as making the quilt. I still want to make one more just like this but give the blocks a 3D touch. But now I'm out of periwinkle...

      I would *sew* LOVE to make a quilt like the one in the magazine. Gotta work on my compass points. Must gain talent there.

  7. Oh, pfffft. I'm thinking "this year's ugh" looks pretty good from where I sit! Though I admit, sewing through my finger is pretty much my worst fear. Good for you for living to tell the tale. I'm sure I'd die. :)

    1. Thanks, Laura! That's exceptionally sweet coming from you. Your quilting is beautiful!

      This actually is the second time I've sewn through my finger. Apparently I didn't injure myself bad enough the first time! Hopefully it won't take a third time to learn the lesson!!!

  8. Your finished wall quilt is lovely. The colors are really just "SPRING" and the quilting thread is perfect with it. Love your "to be finished" quilt in batik as well - can't wait to see it all done when its time is right. Best of luck with your show entry - always and exciting process. Hope your finger heals quickly; done that a couple of times and it's not so fun.

    1. Thanks, Marcella! I do think the bright green of spring might be why I've not tired of green so far this spring with winter still lingering. (Ten inches over the weekend...) I really got my hopes up my mini quilt might be accepted, thanks to all the sweet comments, but I'm back down to earth now. If it doesn't get accepted, I will still be very happy I tried.

      Finger's healing up nicely now!


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