Saturday, 21 April 2012

The one where I decide to give up quilting.

I suspect this blog title has got a few people's attention. But it's exactly how I'm feeling right now as I write.

For me the best parts of making a quilt are: Selecting the fabric, (depending on the design, assembling the quilt top) and then hand sewing on the binding. I like the hand sewing down of the binding because it means I've actually finished and will soon have a quilt to use. The basting is a necessary evil and so is the quilting. If I had unlimited resources and weren't frightened off by all the instructions given by long armed quilters (all that stuff about seams being precisely flat in the same direction and the quilt top squared and trimmed and uncreased  blah blah blah) then I would send off my quilts to be long armed quilted. As I do not have unlimited resources, I tend to make quilts of lap size and smaller. Often bemoaning the fact I have no friends or relatives having babies and therefore needing baby quilts.

But then I fell in love with the Colour Brick quilt and finishing up at a, seemingly, manageable 68" x 53" I thought it wouldn't be too much of a challenge to baste and quilt. Oh naive fool that I am. Basting was ok- ish. I opted to baste with safety pins rather than the recommended spray baste, because I have to baste on carpet and there was no way, given my limited floor space, I could see me being able to spray the layers on the washing line and then bring them in, lay them out flat without creases and without covering myself, the carpet and anything else in the vicinity with spray baste.

Hope Valley Colour Brick - basting

Everything started to go wrong when I moved on to the quilting stage. Susan: Now I know why you refer to certain aspects of quilting as 'wresting a walrus'. Wrestle a Walrus? My colour brick quilt is more like a particularly boisterous baby elephant. I now also understand why wiser folks than I have invested in those rubber glove thingies that help you move the quilt through the machine! Who knew how unwieldy and heavy a quilt is beyond a certain size? (Well, I suspect most people reading this.)  My stitching has ended up wonky and uneven to say the least. Don't even suggest I unpick because what would be the point if it ends up looking exactly the same as it did in the first place? And I've every confidence that it will.

So I feel like giving up quilting. Stick to making bags and small items that don't require me to wrestle wild animals...and lose.  I will finish my colour brick quilt first. I will show pictures. Pictures taken so far away that you will not be able to see the bad quilting...even if you zoom in.

It does leave me with a dilemma though. I really wanted to make the vintage star quilt I told you about in this post. I even cut the patterned fabric needed to make the huge HST's to make up the star. But now I realise I will not be able to baste a 6' x 6' quilt let alone quilt the damn thing. So what to do for the best? I've got 8 18" squares of precious fabric just begging to be a star.

Precious fabrics cut into! 
After I've finished my colour brick quilt I may make myself a nice bag. Something that won't need any quilting.




30 comments:

  1. Oh.....don't give up. Your work is lovely. Perhaps there is a long arm quilter not to far away that you can barter with. Texas is probably a bit far afield for you, else I'd invite you to come play with my toys.

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  2. Sorry you've had a tough time with your quilt. But don't give up. Just give yourself a break and then go back to it when you're ready. I also HATE basting quilts - I have very limited floorspace on which to spread a quilt and the area is carpeted too, BUT I have successfully spray basted indoors. As long as you have all the windows open and are careful not to spray the carpet, then it is do-able. And I'm sure that once your colour brick quilt is finished and washed, it won't be nearly as bad as you think it is.
    R x

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  3. Oh no, sorry about the wrestling! And yeah, that's just how I felt with my Stained quilt. The rubber glove things do work though, and Poundland do 2 pairs for gardening for £1, so it's worth trying them while finishing off Dumbo.

    I admit to cheating when I spray baste, I stick a layer of bin bags round the edge for escapee spray, might that help? I also use a protective mask from B&Q for spray painting, that are super cheap for a pack of about 8, and saves me freezing my arse off with the windows open ;o)

    On the flip side, I'm constantly looking at ways to cross over between things, so blocks become cushion covers, incorporated into totes, the front of messenger bags, you could probably do apron pockets, the world is your oyster :o)

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  4. I know exactly what you mean. 100%. I'm trying really hard to keep at it though. I'm finding a few things helpful. First off, I go out to the local quilt shop and baste there cos they have Massive tables. I might even ask to quilt there too one day! Second, rubber gloves are a must. Third, if you can sit on some cushions or something as sitting at a higher height than normal that helps a bit. But genrally, it sucks. I dont like it one bit!!!

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  5. I hope you don't give up, but equally you don't want to be doing something that you are not enjoying. Your creations are lovely and it would be such a shame for you not to continue. I spray basted my last quilt (the mystery quilt) and I will never go back to safety pins. I rarely quilt on my machine as it is all too much stress and I love sitting on the settee and hand quilting no matter how long it takes.

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  6. I feel your quilting pain! Don't give up, just take a breather then give it another go ;)

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  7. no!!! don't give up! that is why I hand quilt if it is a large thing I hate wrestling with the machine, takes the joy out the whole process for me ! x

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  8. Oh Jan don't be thinking of giving up - try QAYG. I always encourage my classes to make and quilt "in chunks" life is too short to wrestle walruses.

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  9. What everyone else said!
    We have all been there. It's in your blood and it would be sad if you stopped. Of course, if you really, really don't enjoy it, then I guess you should do orher things...

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  10. Yep, the actual quilting can be the pits! Despite looking and feeling like it took forever, the straight lines I did on my Stained are possible the best result of quilting I have ever done, and the size of the quilt doesn't matter as you roll it lengthways from both ends to leave yourself room to quilt in the middle, and you can manoeuvre the quilt through with your two rolls.

    As for the spray basting, again, do it in sections - I only spray in about 18" burst, so if you have the width of the quilt, maybe with a big sheet underneath, you do a section, move it up do the next, fold it over and repeat, you could do it on your bed?

    Don;t be disheartened - I love a quick make as much as you, but the odd quilt is great too xxx

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  11. Sorry you had an encounter with my walrus's cousin. Nasty bugger him!! Persevere because it is so nice when you do have a quilt all finished and you can snuggle under it while you recover with a glass of wine.

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  12. oh dear, at the end of the day it should be...FUN. NOW there is no reason why you cannot make a small quilt to go over the back of the chair... or make stars into bags ... do you have a friend who does NOT like piecing but DOES like quilting? xx hope you come to a decision you can live with.

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  13. Aww Jan you sound like you need a break from the quilting. Maybe if your quilting is really wonky you could change your quilting plan and go really wonky on purpose? And you could maybe make something little and pretty in the meantime to cheer yourself up :)

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  14. Since I am on the computer instead of fighting my walrus right now I feel your pain. I am trying to do half an hour of quilting a day just to get through this. Unfortunately it ties up my sewing machine keeping me from getting a sewing project done.

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  15. I'm not a fan of the quilting bit (although basting is the work of the devil)but I like the results so I persevere. I was going to suggest QAYG, too, if might solve your problem!

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  16. 'Quilt as you go' is a great way to quilt smaller blocks and then assemble them already quilted. You're right about the wrestling stage of quilting! It's jolly hard work! But I'm sure your colour brick will still look gorgeous. Jxo

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  17. Since Lynz already mentioned QAYG, here is the link to a blog with the Tutorial, part one. Her quilts always look gorgeous. I have two quilts to make this month, and I'm going to try it myself. I'm going back to quietly lurking now.

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  18. ooops. Link, http://www.thequiltingedge.com/search/label/Tutorial%2FQAYG%20%23%201%2FMaking%20the%20Blocks

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  19. Oh Jan, hope you are just having a bad day and you are feeling better now. Sending hugs xo

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  20. Do not give up now. Go back and do more basting. Lots more. This is the secret. Check back and front for wrinkles. Roll the quilt carefully and hold the rolls on place so you can get to the middle. Try stitch-in-the-ditch across the middle. Use a gazillion pins if you have to. Then do another row. Then you can take out some pins. Try another area. Then you can try some fancy quilting in smaller zones. You will, and shall, be fine. You are a woman and women can do miracles. Remember that it all works out in the end: if it is not working out then this is not the end.

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  21. I have to say that I can completely understand being frustrated to the point of wanting to quit. It's so deflating to get a top all pieced and basted and then not have the quilting turn out the way you want.

    One thing that I would suggest to maybe help "wrestle the walrus" is to make sure you have lots of extra table space behind and to the left of your machine (I use a couple of tray tables). Taking the extra weight off of the machine will prevent drag, help the stitching stay straighter, and will reduce your fatigue. I also try to take lots of breaks.

    I hope you will give it another chance, but even if it ends up not being for you, I will still enjoy getting to read about and see what you make!

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  22. Oh this sucks. I have some advice though:
    1. Long arming isn't as expensive as you think it will be. I've just sent my first one off to long armed Chris Jo quilts for Katy, and had the best service ever for not an unreasonable amount of money.
    2. I have quilted a super king size quilt on my machine, it wasn't particularly fun, but I did enjoy the challenge. Im actually making 2 jenib star quilts next weekend, which I plan to quilt at home. If you want to post me your top and backing I will quilt yours too :-)

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  23. I identity with your difficulty, even baby quilts really hurt me so I only attempt quilts where I can work out how to split the design into qaygo. It threatens my sanity to do otherwise!

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  24. I can't stand the quilting part - decided to just bite the bullet and sent a couple to a long-arm quilter I found on-line. Best decision EVER. Also once you wash it so many of those imperfections will just fade away. Hang in there!

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  25. Seriously you need to try the spray basting-- it's amazing and I have done quite a few of mine inside on carpet- no issues just spray close to the fabric at the edges. I used to hate quilting because of the pinning part. But now that that is gone I really enjoy it. I haven't done a huge quilt on the machine yet... I do tend to enjoy the look of hand quilting with pearl cotton. But I know mom has and washing it really does cover a lot of problem areas!
    The quilt is so pretty don't give up- you inspire me all of the time!!

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  26. Well, the one quilt I finished is only small, but i managed to get a bit high off the glue, glued up the carpet and cried over the quilting so I feel your pain. Sorry for the lack of helpful suggestions!

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  27. My local fabric shop has a workroom at the back in which they run courses etc, but they also rent out the massive tables for a half day slot for £20. Personally, I thought that was quite good value, when you think of how much carpet basting related frustration it could alleviate. They also sell quilting gloves and you could set your machine up once finished basting and do some of the quilting on thier massive tables to. Now I realise that's only of use if you live near me, which might not be likely (South Oxfordshire?) but if my shop do it, you might find a shop nearer to you that does the same.... good luck, don;t give in, just do some easy, but still gorgeous, stuff for a while till the horror subsides - pretty much like childbirth :-)

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  28. Lots of 505 and straight lines in a diamond or grid pattern might make it a bit easier - good luck - the star is a lovely pattern - one I have planned for later!

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  29. I don't think I have any suggestions that haven't been covered but please don't give up. Are you going to the FQ retreat? Could you get the star top pieced by then and get some people to help you baste it one night? I layered/tacked my last big quilt while my parents were on holiday - Dad emptied their front room before they left and I had a whole week to get it done which was great as I could just pop round and do half an hour or so...mind you, the quilt only just fit widthways and I had to walk over the hearth to get past it! I hope you feel more positive about the quilting process soon and find ways round it - how about hand quilting?

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