Quilter’s Block

A new block, you ask? Not really. This is more the type of block that stops progress and less the type that builds a quilt. Kinda like writer’s block.

So I put together this top, which is a variation of Jacob’s Ladder, and I was SO pleased with how it turned out. Corners came together correctly, color placement was nice and the overall appearance was just how I had envisioned it would turn out. It measures just at 100″ square.

hanging over the balcony from upstairs, I just love the way this quilt looks when you take a step back. I also love the border, which was the inspiration for the quilt in the first place.

I had it hanging over the banister upstairs for a month or so, which really gave view to anyone who could see in our ginormous back window (the spot where it hung can be seen from the main street that runs along our backyard). I finally decided to quilt it, and thought I should make my first try at entering a show.

I chose poly cotton batting because I didn’t want it to be too warm or flat, since it will ultimately end up on my bed. I cut the wide back and strung it up on my machine. I tacked down the top edge of the quilt and then paused, for about an hour. This is when my Quilter’s Block began.

I knew I wanted to customize the quilting, and my first thought was to make a curly feather in the large border. Before I did so, I stitched in the ditch along the bottom of the border to ensure it stayed straight. Then I sewed the line that would have been the feather backbone, and starting at the upper right corner, began to swirl my feathers out. It got ugly. I stopped for the day.

Next day: back at it. I pulled out the ugly stitches and tried to get back on track. Then my thread kept breaking, like immediately after I began to sew. I changed from variegated thread on top to straight red, but the problem persisted. I had just changed my needle, so that wasn’t it. There she sat for 2 more days.

I woke up feeling guilty and realizing I had to make another attempt. I thought maybe my thread was serger and too thick, so I changed it. But by this time I was just not convinced feathers were the way to go. I mean, the border is all FLOWERS! The entire color arrangement for this quilt was based on the border fabric – it was my inspiration. I turned around to get a bobbin or something and saw a book I have in a cubby that showed a whole cloth quilt on the front cover. It was quilted in such a way as to create flowers where there was nothing but solid fabric. BING!!!

Light bulb finally having gone off, I began to pull out all those stitches. Now if you have ever sewed anything, and had to rip out stitches, you will understand how much fun this isn’t. And I had a long way to go. Another day and a half wasted. But at least now I felt as if I might be moving in the right direction.

SIDE NOTE: I can tell you with no exception, that this is why I get nervous with every customer quilt and do a lot of prep before beginning. I think on it, draw it out, think some more, and when I am positively sure, THEN I begin. I guess because this quilt is mine, I just figured I’d be happy with my results regardless, so I invested less advance work.

I got through outlining three red flowers when I realized that I wasn’t getting the look I wanted. I figured I needed to pull out the stitches and insert another layer of batting. So I pulled out the stitches around one of the flowers and realized, yes, I could take out all those stitches I could barely see (the thread matched the red flowers really well), and try to get batting between the top line and the ditched line at the bottom of the border, but then I would also be adding to the weight of this quilt that I ultimately wanted to use! sigh. I took the rest of the night off.

So the next day I restitched this flower, and did the rest of the red flowers. The next day I stitched the blue flowers. I decided to keep it at that because I favor those colors in this quilt, so I wanted them to stand out more than the browns, yellows or green leaves. Now… what to do in the background of the flowers? I decided to let that marinate for a few days.

When I forced myself back to it, I thought if I stitched something small it would make the flowers stand out more. But I really didn’t want to echo or do a stipple. So I flipped through the pages of the aforementioned book and decided on a densely leafed vine. OK, what thread color. I had been thinking about this already, wavering between green, cream maybe brown, maybe variegated green… Walk away for an hour, come back. Repeat. Repeat. Choose creamy white thread, and on we go.

As I started to stitch, I thought I was pretty pleased with it. That’s when I stitched OVER one of the red flowers. sigh. Pull out stitches, turn machine off. You can see how this is going so far.

Now, I’m almost across the top border, and I think it’s ok. I don’t think it’s show-worthy, but it will definitely be cherished on my bed, unless I come to hate it before I get it done. For all the mental anguish this quilt has cost me, I’m really worried about getting it done and off my machine within the next century. I haven’t even decided what to do within the center yet. Which is why I am writing instead of quilting right now. 🙂 

Here are some photos:

I like it, I just think it looks, fuddled. Is that a real word? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

Can you see my stitch in the ditch?

it’s pretty deep in the ditch…

But it does look REALLY COOL from the backside!

the flowers really stand out!

the light above causes all the colors to show through. once I take the quilt off the machine that won’t be the case

So the moral of the story is that prep work makes the job MUCH easier, and yes, even quilters get artistically blocked. So I guess it’s not just for writer’s anymore.

I hope y’all have better luck than me this month (so far). Happy quilting!