Friday, June 20, 2014

When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilts

Prepare yourself for a story of woe . . .

Three weeks ago I ask the fine readers of WIP Wednesday to help me with a plan to quilt my Farmer’s Market Quilt. I was encouraged by the responses and set out to wrap this one up . . .

I started by quilting the narrow strips of navy fabric with navy thread. I liked the navy on navy. Good move.

(Fabric facts: Bonnie and Camille’s Happy Go Lucky, a beautiful navy couture fabric from perhaps Michael Miller, Kona Salmon, and Kona White.)

But then I couldn’t decide what color to quilt the rest of it. Navy thread looked weird on the white fabric. White thread looked weird on the navy. Gray—my stab at a happy medium—looked weird on both the navy and the white fabrics.

Plan B: Keep the machine quilting I had already done on those narrow strips and hand-tie the rest of the quilt. I’m not crazy about the look of hand-tying, especially after a trip or two through the washer, so I bound the quilt and decided to wash it before tying. (I’m a spray baster and wanted the adhesive to release from the fabric before gifting this quilt anyway.)

Yeah, I wish I hadn’t done that. Once I pulled the quilt from the dryer, I saw that a seam had opened in one of the navy diamonds.

It’s important to point out that I did not cry. I did not swear. I did not throw anything. I did, however, put the quilt in a time-out for a good three days.

When I felt mentally prepared to deal with the gaping hole in my otherwise beautiful quilt, I came up with a plan. I slipped a long, skinny strip of fusible interfacing under the wimpy seam and set it with an iron. Then I zigzagged along that seam as well as all the other seams in the navy diamonds. If one seam came apart in the washer, another one could. I really didn’t want to take any chances. I’ve seen some lovely zigzag quilting (see, for example, Rachel Hauser’s Tilt-a-Whirl). My take was definitely function over form.

The tragedy does not end there. I spent a few hours wrestling with tension issues. I finally got things to the point where I could use salmon-colored thread in the bobbin on those zigzags. I can only see the tiniest bits of navy from the back of the quilt.

The true outcome of this quilting experience: a pretty quilt and a resolution to quilt more densely (and not to wash prematurely—duh!). Also: buy a higher-end machine. It’s time. If you’ve blogged about your love for your machine, I’d love to hear about it!

I’m linking up this post to Finish It Up Friday and TGIFF!


  1. Congrats on your patience. That's what kids are for: you learn about what is really important. Is someone dying, bleeding, hurting someone else, no. So anything else is not important. Not even a fraying seems. And a stupid tension issue. After all, it's just a hobby that's keeping you for not goin insane ! Good luck on your future project.

  2. Your quilt is beautiful - I love the colors. I have not blogged about my machine but I have a Bernina and I really do love it. Good luck to you on all you future projects! Your solution was a good one.

  3. I've had that happen. Good fix. And really pretty quilt. I love that peach & navy together.

  4. I had to click over from Finish It Up Friday because your post title was intriguing... sorry you had so many obstacles to overcome, but the finished quilt is beautiful! I love the colors and design, Michelle : )

  5. Way to stick with it and find a solution! Your quilt is beautiful -- you can't see the issues from where I'm sitting. :)

    1. Thank you all for your kind words! I'm happy that I saw this through to the end and think the recipient will love it!

  6. I haven't blogged about my love of a machine, but I sew on a Bernina 330, and we are in love. If you want a good machine, save up and spend the money on. Don't over invest in features you won't use, though. Figure out how you use your machine and buy the highest quality machine you can afford that has those features.

  7. It looks gorgeous! But man, I definitely would've cried if I'd had the same experience. You're a tough cookie! :)

  8. Your finished quilt is simply gorgeous. I am sorry you had such heartbreak along the way. Way to persevere, Michelle, and thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

  9. The quilt looks just lovely, Michelle, in spite of its bad behavior! I, too (like Em), quilt on a Bernina 330B. I love her with all my heart. My only regret is that the machine does not have an indicator when the bobbin is about to run out. But otherwise, it's a great great machine!


Thank you for commenting! I almost always respond to comments by email. If my response might interest others or if you're a no-reply blogger, I'll post it here.