How to Recover from a Longarm Quilting ‘Mistake’

I have some great mentors in the quilting world. I also take on the opportunity to learn from as many other quilters and quilts that I see at shows, shops and wherever else they pop up.

One mentor told me that as soon as I decided I didn’t like the pattern I was quilting to STOP IMMEDIATELY, because otherwise I would have to do the entire quilt with that pattern, no matter how painful or tedious the experience.

Another mentor told me, if you make a mistake three times while quilting (meaning variation from the pattern you wished to quilt) then it was not a mistake, it was now part of the pattern.

Both of those bits of advice are quite sound, and I’ve learned my lessons, sometimes the hard way. But I am happy to tell you that if you think you want to do a certain stitch in an area and DO change your mind, all hope is not lost.

In this particular quilt, I was throwing random feathers into the background, to break up the background quilting and add interest, like in this block below (and around it).

random feathers

random feathers

I had decided to put some within this block. After quilting two feathers in there, I didn’t like the scale, nor that they didn’t look similar enough to belong where I put them. They either needed to be ‘same’y or totally intentionally random, and they were neither. I realized they needed to be removed and the space refilled with the background cover.

So began Operation Unsew:

starting to pull threads

starting to pull threads

This can be tricky, ESPECIALLY if the thread very closely matches the background fabric. If your tension is off, sometimes you can clip a thread (usually underneath the quilt) and remove a long string all at once. But when your tension is good, you have to move very carefully and slowly.

mostly done

mostly done

Bit by bit I clipped a thread and used my sharp, small, curved embroidery scissors to pick the thread out from the lock it had with the bobbin thread. When I can, I clip the bobbin thread and the top thread pulls out a bit easier for a short distance. Those start/stop points are the worst!

thread out, shadow remains

thread out, shadow remains

Finally having all the thread out, we have what remains above. Perhaps a mere shadow of what once was, I needed it to be a disappearing act from what it once was!

Tada!!!

clean slate!

clean slate!

The trick? I use a spray bottle with ONLY water in it, give it a light spray, wipe my clean hand gently over the fabric and then give it 5 minutes to dry out. I’ve done this more than once and not had problems with color bleed, but I cannot guarantee to you that it will not occur. So be VERY careful if you need to use this method on fabrics you worry will bleed.

In the end, I was able to requilt the area and I can’t even tell where the previous stitches were. 🙂

corrected block

corrected block

There was only the evidence below…

mess on the floor afterwards

mess on the floor afterwards

I would not recommend this as an option if your needle wasn’t sharp or if your backing is batik. You COULD use it, but often a dull needle will poke holes through the fabric on back and you may be able to hide the evidence of the crime above, but the tale will be told below! With batiks, the weave of the fabric is so tight, this often happens even with a sharp needle. Check your backing carefully to see if this IS an option, if you find yourself in a position such as mine.

I hope this has helped out any of my quilty friends with ‘mistakes’ that occur. Happy quilting – may your errors be small!

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Monthly Block – January (BONUS)

Thought I was done, didn’t ya? Thought it was over? Me too, until I realized a few things.

1. This is now a guild presentation. It would be very hard for me to ensure everyone in the audience sees the block when I hold this up in front of a large group:

"THE" block

“THE” block

2. I have seen ‘modern’ quilts represented as giant blocks that only a few blocks are needed to make an entire quilt. So I thought I’d see what happened if I did that.

The result was interesting. Here is my sketch (looks a lot like the rest of them, but simpler):

sketch

sketch

My focus fabric was the flowers in the center, and the border is the same fabric, but without the flowers on top. I have fabric in many colors that match the colors within that focus fabric, and my drawing shows use of them all, but that looked too mish-mashy to me. I wanted it cleaner, so I went with one for the arrows, one for the off-setting triangles, and blue as the background for the arrows so they’d really stand out.

My secondary plan was to use NOT blue. Maybe purple or brown, but I really liked the blue there. And I was going to use a green to frame the center square and then go around the arrows but inside the border, like 1″ thin border. But I didn’t like how it looked when I laid it out. So I didn’t do it.

green inner border

green inner border

I can say this thing went together lightning fast! The toughest part was cutting the triangles, since the hypotenuse was bigger than my ruler! Each block (there are 9 blocks within the border) measures 18″ finished).

OK ONE more note – lighting ENTIRELY makes the difference. I wanted to post this last night, but took my photos after dark, and here is the result of THAT:

dark photo

dark photo

Light photo (this morning):

January 15 quilt

January 15 quilt

So let’s compare!

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

October:

October quilt

October quilt

November:

November quilt top

November quilt top

December:

December quilt

December quilt

And January:

January 15 quilt

January 15 quilt

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! Or change the setting, add alternating blocks even! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

I can’t guarantee this will be the last one…. I’m sort of hooked at this point!

 

Monthly Block – December (just under the wire)

Ahhhhhhhh. I MADE IT THROUGH DECEMBER! Like I said last month, this time of year is ridiculously busy for a long arm quilter. Add in family that wants to spend time together and suddenly there is NO time left for projects.

I panicked about this project last week and tried to work with the panel I’d picked out (see last post). No go. Changed my plan to this:

December plan b

December plan b

Gray, blue and sashing between a set of 4 blocks, because I LOVE how the pinwheels show and really wanted to include them.

As I wasn’t sure what I’d use as that center, I looked through my stash and found this pinkish red and gray, so I switched out the main color. Once I measured the flowers, I saw I needed to not only fussy cut them (blech), but I also needed to make the blocks bigger.

bigger blocks, fatter arrows

bigger blocks, fatter arrows

I also wanted the arrows to REALLY come out, so I changed the ratio and made that center strip wider, for a fatter arrow.

Once the blocks came together, I was sorely disappointed at how the arrows looked. They really just didn’t pop out!

pinwheel fail

pinwheel fail

I did like how the creamy sashing popped out, but didn’t love the quilt (except the colors). So I decided to take the left over strips, cut a few more and make a piano key border with the flower fabric in the corners.

December border

December border

I LOVE how it turned out with this border. If I wasn’t exhausted I might have added another round of the cream sashing to the outside of the piano keys. But I was done so here it is :). I think it’s really amazing how spending a bit of extra time on the border completely turned around how I felt about this quilt!

December quilt

December quilt

Now, I know this began as a 12 month challenge, but the thing is, I have 2 more planned that I feel compelled to make. But I ALSO have a challenge already set for 2015. That will take a while to execute, so I may continue sharing this project as long as it interests me :).

Happy quilting my friends. And Happy New Year!

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

October:

October quilt

October quilt

November:

November quilt top

November quilt top

And December:

December quilt

December quilt

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! Or change the setting, add alternating blocks even! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

 

 

December quilt is coming, and so is 2015 challenge!

OK fans! I had a plan when I made November’s quilt for what December’s quilt would become. HOWEVER….. I changed it.

the plan

the plan

FOR GOOD reason I SWEAR! I had a panel planned out! I bought it, measured it, planned the blocks around it, found (and even bought) coordinating colors for the parts, and was about to get to work on it.

coordinating fabrics

coordinating fabrics

Then I realized how difficult these measurements were becoming. Trying to make a panel that is three wide, each piece measuring 23″ tall by 14.5″ wide, work with a block that is 9.5″ unfinished is VERY tedious. I tried to figure it out with sashing, with separating the panels, changing the size of the block or skooching in the panels, none of it worked.

the panel

the panel

Needless to say, I realized this just wasn’t going to work. Sooooo, I wondered to myself what do I do now?

My wheels are already turning on next years project, so I wanted to go with something bold, but something that was still different from previous months. I know what the setting is going to be this time, I just had to pick my colors.

I decided to do a darkish red and gray, and found a perfect big red flower on a gray background that made a perfect center. But the flower is bigger than the normal block center size. So I changed the scale for this month. AND I changed something else (but you’ll have to wait and see!)

I’ve got my pieces cut, and still a few days to get them together. It will be AWESOME! Just wait a few more days and I’ll post it!

XO

Next Year’s Challenge

This year’s challenge is almost over, and I’m happy to say that I have December’s quilt planned, as well as a bonus quilt for January! Once I get through Christmas rush I will be able to get December’s top actually completed.

In fact, I need to get them finished AND quilted! I have several speaking engagements scheduled over the next year and a half for my new program = One Block, 12 Quilts. That will be the result of this experiment! I’m very excited for it!

Part of the program will be using different batting and quilting densities so the audience can see and feel the difference in drape, thickness, heaviness and look of quilts made with different types of batting. Should be fun, once I get it all worked out!

SO!!! While I was working at the quilt shop today, one of my friends asked me what I’m going to do for next year. ummmm…… I don’t know.

I hadn’t even THOUGHT about it yet, but that was such a great question! After what I’ve learned this year and have shared, I can’t just go into next year without another one!

I gave some thought to making a quilt in different colors every month, but I don’t think that is interesting enough. Maybe every month I make a scrap quilt. THAT is doable, could result in VERY different looks and styles EVERY month, and best of all, would help me use my scraps (which seem to be procreating every time I turn around).

Anything in particular you’d like to see?

 

Monthly Block – November!

So here we are… FINALLY!

November quilt top

November quilt top

November is quite a busy time for a longarm quilter, so it was a really difficult for me to fit this in, on top of being quite unsure as to what I was even going to make!

Originally I thought fall colors, because they’re my favorite, but I’ve really already done that. Someone suggested a panel with the blocks around it, so I envisioned a cornucopia in the center with coordinating blocks around it. Couldn’t find a panel I liked at all.

Despite the busy season, I had signed up for a retreat with some friends I hadn’t retreated with in forever (okay, like 2 years) at a center that was rumored to be fabulous. So I decided to make it there.

I had toyed with the idea of alternating blocks, and maybe making the center of ‘the’ blocks into tiny 9 patches. When I drew that up it looked too busy, so I decided to do a 9 patch as the alternating block. Still unsure of my colors though.

Two days before going on retreat I was packing up my baggies of scraps and potential projects and suddenly decided that I wanted to use the leftover black and white fabric I had from making a rag quilt for a customer. I thought about gray accents, but ultimately ruled that out. So I cut up the black and white and brought some red and black print, thinking that would be a great border.

I was a little concerned that the black with white and white with black would blend too well and end up looking a mess. But when I put the top together, I REALLY liked how it was coming along.

November arrows

November arrows

November close up

November close up

With the blocks together I decided it needed a small inner white border to be like a break in the action, and then grabbed my “Plaster of Paris” line of fabrics, which are bright, rich colors that aren’t quite solids – they almost look like colored stucco. The turquoise was undeniable, so that became the middle border = the pop of color. I decided plain black was the best outer border, as it was a calm frame.

November borders

November borders

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

October:

October quilt

October quilt

November

November quilt top

November quilt top

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! Or change the setting, add alternating blocks even! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

Can’t wait to see December? Well, I HAVE a plan, AND I HAVE the fabric, so hopefully it won’t take me another 30 days to get this one done!! Also, I have a special surprise for you in January! Stay tuned, and happy quilting my friends!

 

Monthly Block – October

October quilt

October quilt

I saw something, can’t remember exactly what, but I think it was a movie where they were trying to decipher some problem. The advice given was to change only one thing at a time so that they could determine the root cause of the issue. Well this month I didn’t follow that advice.

I had already decided to use Halloween colors, and when I drew up my plan, I thought this month could be different if I offset the blocks.

october drawing

october drawing

The result is that there are partial blocks along the edges (which, because I sew by memory, equated to a lot of seam ripping because I sewed whole blocks when I should not have). You can see from the photos I switched the purple and orange. I just happened to like the orange I had (sparkly) and the purple (solid) not so much.

But I ALSO made the blocks bigger. That wasn’t the plan, originally. I did it because when I cut the squares of the focus fabric, I realized the full cuteness of the fabric was lost, so I needed to cut bigger squares to show more of the whole pattern (which is why it is also the border). I had to do a little quick math to figure out what size I needed the other parts to be, but it worked out pretty well.

In fact, I LOVE how it turned out! The only thing I’m not over the top about is that the black with orange dots reads more as a brown…

black with orange dots

black with orange dots

The larger blocks also helped me to not have to make as many blocks, but have a good sized quilt in the end. Something to consider…

cute fabric

cute fabric

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

And, October:

October quilt

October quilt

I think I have a new favorite…

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! Or change the setting, add alternating blocks even! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!