It started as a good idea: At year’s end, start with something old and make something new. So, I sewed scraps, hoping to dent my scrap mountain, into small, spontaneous log cabins, with two loose rules: Make it all out of leftovers, and be spontaneous. But, don’t overthink it; just sew.
One Thing Right
First of all, the basic design idea was good — intuitive, enjoyable and colorful. Capable of growing into a very fun quilt. And then I got off track.
7 Things Wrong
#1: My Skill Level With The New Methodology: I wanted to try “Quilting As You Sew To Batting” as described in Creative Quilt Challenges by Pat Pease and Wendy Hill (C&T Publishing). Now, there is NOTHING wrong with this concept, and I love this book. Wonderful ideas and directions. Two very creative people generously sharing their knowledge. I just did it wrong.
#2: The Batting: I had some leftover, inexpensive, by-the-yard, batting that felt very wimpy. So, I added another layer. BIG mistake. When fully assembled, the quilt was heavy and the resulting seams were very noticeable. Consequently, the fully assembled quilt was difficult to handle and to quilt by machine. Again, my mistake.
#3: Poor Planning: My inadequate planning is running rampant through this quilt. First of all, my first center motif of squares was too small for the finished size of the quilt. I needed to add more squares. As a result, I ended up with bulges, puckering and a new dilemma on how to make it work in the overall quilt. That was the beginning of my suffering from poor planning.
#4: The Quilting: Finally, all sections were sewn together; the sandwich was assembled and ready for final quilting. I found myself trying to quilt the entire 60″ x 60″ quilt with the familiar problem of cramming it through the narrow neck of my Bernina. Was it time to take that long arm class? Perhaps I should give hand quilting a try? Truthfully, the “quilting as you sew to batting” method would have successful, had I not been so cranky.
#5: My Mood: Consequently, there was no longer any joy in making this quilt. And it shows in what I’m left with. Did I honor my mood by walking the dog, going out for dinner, reading emails or anything else? Nope.
#6: Poor Execution: I admit it; I created this mess. I rushed through it, wanting it to be done. And took short cuts. And thought it wouldn’t show or I could work around it. Combining this approach with the other problems was ridiculous and frustrating.
#7: I Kept Sewing: Yet, I endeavored to persevere (my favorite saying from True Grit.). Like that Texas Ranger, I kept at it; trying to make it work. But the combination of poor planning, poor execution and no patience was disastrous. Finally, I quit. This scrappy quilt will go into one of my “Think About It Later” bins. (Note to self — buy more bins.)
As a result, I offer the following thoughts:
(1) Spontaneity can be good. It’s fun and can lead to very rewarding creations.
(2) At some point, planning must take the lead over spontaneity, or at least happily co-exist. However, Spontaneous Planning or Planning Spontaneously sounds risky. Think first.
(3) Trying something new is a good thing. And if at first, you don’t succeed….
(4) Go with the flow. If something isn’t working, stop and try to figure it out. Or take a break. Step back and reconsider what needs to happen.
(5) Don’t quit trying to be creative and good at it. It takes practice. And work. And a few disappointments along the way.
I’m reminded of an exceptionally talented painter-friend. She had an instructor who said their first 100 paintings should be thrown on a bonfire. After the first 100, they would get better. Does that apply to quilts? Scary thought! I hope not. But, I probably have enough scraps to make another 99 quilts. Ha! Its time for lunch.