Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quilting outtakes

Triangle City

If you look closely at Triangle City, you will notice some things that, although not a "problem" on an improv quilt, they might be issues for the "quilt police". In fact these things are perfectly at home as part of an improv project and I love this little quilt. But, just so you know, I did not intend them to happen.

Looking more carefully you can see:

  • the left hand side triangles have been trimmed mid triangle (pink arrow)
  • the triangles are not appearing on straight horizontal rows, despite being pieced in that way (blue lines)
  • the overall quilt shows that the quilting distorted the lay of the quilt so to keep it looking mostly straight it is trimmed crookedly (green brackets)
These issues stem from one thing - the quilting plan. Relatively dense straight line quilting - these lines are about 1/2" apart - will add some distortion to the quilt if you are not careful in how you hold the quilt as you go and I know how to deal with that. But on this quilt there were more sources of the problem, which are easier to see on the back photo:

Triangle City - Back
  • the quilting lines are on the diagonal
  • there are two different diagonals used 
  • except for one small part at the top of the quilt, the diagonal lines do not cross
  • the diagonal lines form a triangle near the middle of the quilt 
  • I did not start with the middle triangle and quilt out, I quilted the long lines first and then quilted in toward the centre
(As an aside, my radical trimming led to the back not being square on the improv bit either, but that did not actually cause me concern at all as my backs are often not square, they are backs after all and it is improv.)

I expected some trouble but I should have known that these decisions would add up to a real problem. The quilt warped and stretched, and I wondered if I would have any chance of fixing it.

At the stage you see in the above picture where I attempted to flatten the quilt against my design wall - and I should have taken more pictures but I was not a happy camper - I started trimming it in my usual way, taking a line off some piecing line that I knew was straight. That was another mistake as it left me later with less room to trim later, and thus some of the trimming went right through triangles.

When it was clearly not square or lying flat, I reasoned that it would be best to know what a wash would actually do to it before I did a final trim and added the binding. So I washed it unbound and dried it too.

After the wash, I picked the best lines I could and trimmed it properly so that the corners were square and the sides straight. Then I bound it, which created a new problem. See how the binding is making the edges all wavy, look at the left and bottom edges in the photo, and it looked far worse in person than this photo.

So back into the washer and dryer it went with my fingers crossed that it would sort itself out - despite the fact that all my fabrics are pre-washed so there was no real shrink left in that binding. And luckily the wash was a good fix.

Triangle City

A few lessons here:
  • despite the fact that I quilt heavily all the time, I have a vast amount to learn about how it impacts on the final product
  • it would be good to think first and cut second
  • improv is very forgiving, especially if it has a lot of negative space
  • don't give up, creative solutions are worth trying
Quilt bloggers and readers often discuss the lack of realism in the way we describe our process or our finished quilts. We also encourage each other to celebrate our work, not point out every little deficiency that no one cares about in the finished product. So my Ta Da post is just that, I am totally smitten with this quilt, it is quirky, cheerful and a successful little quilt.

Today's post gives you the quilting outtakes, without the head scratching, colourful language and the stomping about that accompanied the reasoning and decision making.

I have to say it feels less fun to share the outtakes, but maybe you can learn from them too. Although I am sure that now when you look at this quirky little quilt you will be noticing all its problems forever after, sigh. The real lesson for me was, don't give up and don't get mad, as in the end I truly am smitten with this little quilt.

You have till 3:00 p.m. MST (about 10:00 pm in the UK) to enter the draw sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop to win the Daydreams layer cake, go here if you have not yet done so - I only wish I could win this one.

And tonight, I will be starting the long arm assembly, there might be more colourful language happening in my quilting room, we shall see. I'll share on Instagram and here too, as I go.