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A Fail of Epic Proportions

Sewing is a lot like learning an instrument.  In the beginning you're clunking out scales, trying to remember which finger goes where.  You play more wrong notes than right ones.  It requires lots of mental energy.  But you practice, you grow, and with time you can sit down and play a piece by memory.  Your fingers instinctively know where to go.  What once required deep concentration is now relaxing and natural.

After sewing almost daily for the last three and a half years, sewing has become that for me.  There aren't too many surprises anymore.  It wasn't always this way.  When I was new to sewing, I spent more time seam ripping than sewing.  But those days are mostly behind me now. 

Until, that is, I stepped out of my comfort zone (garment sewing) into the world of quilting.  This summer I spent so many hours trying to make this quilt.  And I learned, I'm not a quilter.  I should be.  It's in my blood.  I have aunts who sew things like yo-yos and cathedral windows.  They hand quilt... and not my kind of hand quilting using embroidery floss and big stitches.  Oh no, this is the real deal.  Good old fashioned hand quilting, where tiny, uniform stitches are king.

Yeah, I'm missing that gene. 

I was finally finishing up my quilt.  It was the crowning moment, the pièce de résistance.  After piecing two of the four final borders I laid it down, heart full of excitement and...

it would not lay flat.

Not.even.close.  I called Dan over.  He's a mastermind at figuring out these things.  He confirmed it was indeed kattywompus.  Capital K, Capital W.   We measured the borders with the on point squares.  One was over an inch shorter than the other three.  I grabbed my old friend Seam Ripper and got to work.  Then I redid part of the border, adding an inch to the length.  I was about to sew it on when Dan said, First, we better lay the quilt out to be sure we fixed the problem.

Fix it, we did not.  

I cannot get it to lay flat.   I got out my straight edge and realized it's no where near square.  And I really have no idea how to fix it.  Dan and I think I'm going to have to take it all apart.

And take it apart I will... I hope.  But for now, this quilt top is folded up and back on my shelf.  Because, have I mentioned, I'm not a quilter?  (For confirmation, see my points here.)  I've been choosing cleaning over sewing with this quilt hogging the space on my sewing table.   It's bad.

It's back to garment sewing, I am.


  1. Oh how frustrating. I'm sorry your medallion quilt isn't cooperating. Maybe some time apart with solve the issue and renew your interest in working on it! I know that always helps me!

  2. noooooooo! it looks so great, too! this is why i usually stick to whole cloth or simple patchwork quilts. so much work only to find at the end you were off a little. it was a surprise that the ONE swoon block i made actually worked.

    hope you find a workaround, because i want to see this all done!!

  3. Oh no, Rachel! I'm going to send you some questions via email. Hopefully we can figure this out!

  4. Dang! It looks so pretty. Don't give up! I bet Rachel can help. I can't tell but it looks like you are using linen which might be stretching. Other thoughts...seam allowance and trimming blocks to the right size. It has to be the same everywhere.

    What I have learned about quilt making is that there are always lots and lots of mistakes even if you can't really tell in a picture! At least, there are in mine!

  5. It seems as though it is your square on point border that won't lay flat which makes me think that somehow your bias edges have been stretched . This can happen when you are sewing triangles together . You poor thing ! It looks so great too . If you decide to redo that border let me know and I can tell you an easier way of doing square on point borders . ( by sewing three strips together , slicing them up and resewing together slightly staggered to form the border pattern ) Can one of your quilting family members help you ? I hope you don't become despondent with this quilt . Good luck .

  6. Marci, yeah, it was such a bummer. at this point, i feel too invested to give up. but i'm learning, too. hopefully- after a break away - i can come back to this quilt and figure it out. live and learn, right?

    Kristin, yes - i'm not giving up on simple quilts or whole cloth. in fact, i have a whole cloth quilt waiting to be made and i cannot wait. i think i'm just going to have to be zen about this one and seam rip to good podcasts, at my own pace, when i have free hands. :)

    Rachel, thanks again for your help.

    Meg, Thanks so much! Yes, Rachel emailed me. I think I maybe got off at my mitered corners + at some points I stretched the fabric to make it fit. :/ I know, I know! I'm new at this. I learned this lesson the hard way.

    Gina, ah, bias edges being stretched. that makes sense. if i need to redo that border i will definitely ask for your help. thank you so much for the offer. all of my family is in the midwest and we are in south central texas. so i'm on my own with this one. :/

    so grateful to have folks in the sewing community to turn to for help and support. wow, it really means so much to me.

  7. oh no Rachel! The colors are gorgeous! What a lot of time you put into this. I do hope you get the answers to fix it and are able to bring it back out to finish it soon.

  8. Oh no. I've been there. I tried doing a large pieced six pointed star one time that turned out more like a cone than a quilt. Sigh. I never did go back to that.

    But as far as "genes" I take heart that my grandmother, an excellent needlewoman who sewed her whole life, said she never had the patience to quilt until she turned 50. I figure I still have some time to grow into it.

  9. Shannon, me, too! :)

    Inder-ific, Grow into it! I love it! Maybe that will be true for me too.

    Did I ever tell you that your Merry Un-Birthday post inspired quite the celebration over here. I'm also on my second pair of big butt pants for the babe. They're addictive. Thanks for the inspiration.


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