Saturday, 22 February 2014

Queen Sized Disaster (almost)

A few weeks ago I got a new bed. I am so happy about this bed. It's everything that I wanted--it's aqua, it's metal, and it looks like it could be in a country farmhouse. I became very enthusiastic about making a quilt for it because our current bedding is awful. My husband doesn't like duvet covers because they get all bunched up, so we were using a "naked" duvet.  Not to mention, we have a random assortment of other blankets because we still have kids who like to crawl into the bed with us in the middle of the night and steal all the covers.

Queen quilt 2

So finally, I was going to make my bed look pretty. I wasn't too worried about making a queen size because I recently just made two twin sized quilts, and they turned out okay, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I made 56 - 12" blocks from Camille Roskelley's "Retro" pattern from her book. Piecing it was easy, but I was so excited to see a finished project that it felt like it was never going to end. Eventually, though, the top was together and all I had to do was baste and quilt it.

I'm not a great baster, but I moved all the furniture out of the living room, and after a couple of hours it was done and I thought I did okay--it looked flat!!! That was last Saturday.

Queen Quilt

I started quilting it immediately, and decided to do a large stipple design. I didn't want it too heavily quilted since we would be sleeping under it, and I wanted something I could finish fast. Big mistake. I got about 1/4 of the way done, and didn't like my stippling AT ALL! Maybe I was going a little crazy, but I started seeing too many strange designs in the shapes (like when you look at clouds)--dinosaurs, dragons, turtles and ducks. I started to get mad at myself for choosing to do a stipple, but there was no way that I was ripping out quilting on a queen size that was 1/4 of the way finished.

By Tuesday it was 1/2 finished and was starting to really lose it. There's only about 6 inches of throat space on my sewing machine, and even rolled up the quilt was way too big to be trying free-motion. It wasn't as flat as I hoped, the backing was bunching up in some places, and I started to see even more crazy images in the design. At that point I decided I WAS going to rip out all the quilting and do something completely different. So, like mad-woman, I just started doing swirls, didn't like it, and then I started making dogwoods -- which I loved the most--and decided to finish it in dogwoods. Later, I would rip out all the other stitching I didn't like. I went to bed after a couple of rows and was feeling half-way content.

Queen quilt 3

But I woke up on Wednesday morning, realized what I'd done, and started crying. I cried most of the day at work (when no one was looking) and by the time I started to get over it, I got home and took one look at it, and the tears started again. There was no way I was going to be able to take out all the stippling, and I loved the dogwoods, and I was just so angry that I hadn't thought about that first. Blinded my own tears, I started stippling again...I had no plan, but I just wanted to finish it and get it out of my life. Maybe someone could cut it up into rags and use it to wash their car or something. And just as I was being the most negative, I started quilting over a bulky seam, so I shoved the quilt to get it over the seam. Then, my index finger went under the needle, and the needle went straight through my nail and came out the other side of my finger!!!! My husband was in the shower and the only person around was my 4-year old, and I didn't want to freak him out so I just gritted my teeth and turned the knob-thing that raises the needle, until my finger was free again. I knew I had to stop sewing and get it together.

I put a band-aid over my finger, sat down at the computer and googled "quilting disasters". I came across Leah Day's story of her "Duchess Quilt". The poor girl had scorched and stained her award winning quilt that she had spent 300 hours making, and watched as it eventually disintegrated on her walls. Although it was the most awful story, it made me realize that I really didn't have it that bad. It could've been way worse, and the quilt was just going to go on my bed--not in a museum.

Queen Quilt 4

So the next day, I finished the stippling, left the dogwoods, and even added a few more dogwoods randomly on the quilt. After I put on the binding, I can say I'm mostly's not perfect but I think I'm okay with it now.

So the moral of the story is--take your time, know your limits, keep your fingers away from the needle of the sewing machine, and stay calm because it could be way worse.

Sorry about the long post, so thank you for reading. The the rest of the weekend I'll be making some new pillowcases, and I hope you are getting time to make something too:)


  1. I'm so sorry you had so much trouble, but it really is a beautiful quilt. That is the beauty of handmade quilts they don't have to be perfect to still be beautiful! Congrats for not giving up!

  2. Ahhhh! How is your finger????? I want to talk about your beautiful quilt, but I can't until I know about your finger!!!!!
    Your quilt is beautiful it matches your bed so perfectly. I like that you threw in some random dogwoods, I'm sure that has evened the quilting out. I think it looks lovely, and it is a quilt for using, so having it not be "perfect" is not the be all and end all. Of course it's on your bed, so you'll see your "mistakes" all the time, but hopefully you can make memories with this quilt and a bit of stippling is not going to change the squishy cuddles and little toes that creep in the bottom and grown up snuggle time and lying in bed with a cuppa and a good book... One day, you'll just have the memories from this quilt and so it really is perfect.
    E xx
    (I hope your finger is ok. xx)

  3. Ouch, I hope your finger is ok. We have to remember we are our own worse critics, and always think the worst in our work. It looks good to me, and as mu hubby once told me, each quilt is a work of art!

  4. trouble with being so close to your own work is that you only see the worst. From where I am looking I see a fabulous and refreshing burst on colour and the overall effect is very pretty. Hope your finger recovers quickly and you get back to sewing without the tears and frustration. Looks great and you finished it despite the drama and agony of it all :)

  5. Oh my! I understand the frustration {and finger pain} you must be feeling!! I wish I could say something to make you feel better about this whole story - it is the most gorgeous quilt {I love love this pattern} and its definitely a piece that has a story behind it. All quilts, no matter how perfect or imperfect they may seem, are works of art, amazing storybooks and the most precious of gifts. This one, destined for your new bed sounds like it will tick all the boxes - something that matches that gorgeous bed, one that your husband likes {always the challenge in our house!} and one that you can wrap those beautiful children in. I love the quilting on this one - love that it is random and love that each stitch tells a story - the one about how you were so excited to quilt a beautiful quilt top you 'free-handed' the quilting design and sacrificed a finger and nail to achieve it! If it makes you feel better I am the crazy lady who covered a quilt in the most random of stitches, tears streaming down my face, just to unpick it and throw it away because I was dreadfully embarrassed. Don't be embarrassed about such a beautiful piece - it's telling such a lovely story {apart from the damaged finger part!} xx

  6. What an ordeal! If it's any consolation, the pictures of your quilt are lovely and your quilt looks beautiful from here!

  7. This is such a beautiful quilt! Even after all of the drama involved, the final result is worth it. no quilt is perfect, and I really, truly believe that something doesn't have to be perfect in order to have beauty and be loved.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  8. It's hard to imagine right now but this might become your favourite quilt after it's washed a few times. The softer it gets the more you'll love it. The quilting will not be forefront. It's all about the fabrics. I hope you finger is doing well.

  9. Ouch! I do hope your finger will be all right.

    The quilt is beautiful -- you do such gorgeous work! Plus, after it's been washed a time or two it'll have that lovely crinkly-quilt goodness.

  10. Love this quilt Cristina, the fabrics are just perfect with your aqua bed! And the quilting looks pretty fantastic to me. When I first starting quilting, I was told about the galloping horse rule. Simply put, if you can't see an imperfection when riding by on a galloping horse, than it doesn't matter :) (I've had to remind myself of this many times!) I love how honest you are about the quilting process, it's so refreshing! P.S. Hope your finger is feeling better - ouch!!

  11. Cristina, it is so pretty, it really is! Like I said before, you are too hard on yourself ;) Your quilts are ALL so beautiful, even if they are not perfect in one way or another. Your finger paragraph made me cringe! I hope it's ok...

  12. Aw, that's a horror story! Sorry it caused you so much trouble. The quilt is so pretty and really, from a distance, it just looks like it's quilted; you can't see in what particular design. The sewing through your finger part made me screw my face up in pain! Lucky you could get the needle out again and didn't need stitches. I just found your blog through Jennie's Porch Swing Quilts. It's lovely! I also found you on Instagram. You're welcome to follow me back at sarahkrothe to see what I'm making. I don't have a blog.

  13. Bless your heart for sharing this. Sometimes people only post the successes (guilty over here) and we all should take a page from your book and share the near-disasters. I say near because although it made you crazy, it is a lovely quilt. Embrace the madness, which I think you have, and you'll love it on your bed. I can't even look at the quilting on some of my first quilts. But it's okay, because it shows me how far I've come.

    And I'll never, ever ever quilt a big quilt on my machine again. I'll wait eons for the time on the long arm before I torture myself! Sorry 'bout your finger. Glad you're a tough Air Force lady!

  14. Yikes... that bit about your finger has me cringing still (I just can't deal with crazy hobby related injuries! Someone whose blog I read sewed their finger a while ago and broke the needle off in the bone - she had the x-rays to prove it - and I'm still a little freaked out by it and feeling like I ought to buy mesh gloves like they use at work in the food service depts to protect my hands when I sew :D).

    The quilt though... that's gorgeous, even if it's got some weird bits of quilting here and there. You took on a big challenge, FMQ that through your machine, and whatever flaws you see in it, it's pretty awesome.

  15. I just read this post. When I was a freshman in college - eons ago. My brother who was a senior in college and I were home alone. He was upstairs in bed. My mom was at school teaching and my dad was down the road at this parents. I had gotten up and was sewing on a new dress for myself. I sewed my finger. Of course, I screamed out. It woke my brother up. He jumped up out of bed and scraped the back of his heel on the side board on the bed. He came down to find my finger. He put me in the car and we stopped by our grandparents home to tell Dad that he was taking me to the doctor who had walk-in appointments until noon. He put some kind of powdery medication on it, wrapped it, and gave me a tetanus shot. That night I started feeling really ill. I went downstairs to get some pop to settle my stomach. That didn't work. It was the first time I remembered ever being sick without one of my parents up with me. After I got really sick, I just went back up and went to bed. By the end of spring break, my finger was ok and I had a finished dress with which I was elated. I've never sewed my finger since and that been about 45 years ago. I'm glad your finger is doing well and your quilt is beautiful.


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XOXO Cristina