Monday, August 31, 2009

Disaster Strikes

Quite the dramatic title for this blog post, but it's how I feel.

Last night an unmitigated quilting disaster struck.

I can't believe how devastated I felt. For those of you who have seen the film or read the book "Julie and Julia", think Julie Powell lying on the kitchen floor after her aspic falls apart . . thinking she will never be able to complete her quest to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That was me.
Scene: 10 pm, Donna's dining room. The dining room table and all chairs have been pushed and piled to one side to make room for what is about the transpire.

Characters: Donna, her loving and supportive husband, and one mofo string quit top. Donna has just spent two hours piecing her so easy (ha ha) quilt backing, which has been laboriously taped to the floor. The batting has been cut and smoothed to within an inch of its life. It's the moment of truth. Donna lays the much anticipated, much loved, and much cursed string quilt top down to get it ready for basting.
Donna: it won't smooth out.

Husband: Here, I'll pull on this edge.

Donna: Now, look - it's bunching over there.

Husband: Maybe if I pull over here.

Donna: It's not working! Look how wrinkled the sashing looks!!

Husband: Did you mean for it to be puckered like that?

Donna (to herself!) Not helpful! Not supportive! (to husband) No! I don't know what's going on! Maybe I need to take the sashing off and square off the string part (as i should have done!) before reattaching.


With that I got to work ripping out the sashing and at 10:45 I ironed the quilt top nice and smooth. Only it wasn't. What followed was a meltdown of epic proportions. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was hormones, maybe I was just so darn frustrated that I had put so much time and effort into this quilt and IT WASN'T WORKING . . .but I was pretty much a puddle on the floor, à la Julie Powell, with no phone call coming through with a famous quilter wanting to come to my house and watch me sew (good thing, I think).

'Cause, see, the sashing wasn't the problem, the blocks are the problem. After a night's sleep (sort of - the baby woke up twice and it was laaate before I crawled into bed), I had a flurry of emails back and forth to Sara, and it's been decided what I need to do.

Burn the sucker.

No, just kidding. When Sara comes to Ottawa to visit next month, our joint sewing project will be dubbed Operation Rescue String Quilt. The mission: we will rip all the blocks apart, square each and every block off, re-sew them into a top, add the binding and I should be good to go.

Sara has advised me to fold it up nice and neat and put it in a safe place until she arrives. Perhaps Operation Rescue String Quilt is not the most scintillating sewing project we could have tackled together, but there'll be wine, some fine dessert I shall make, and 9.5 years of in-person catching up to do.
Here the batting, backing, and quilt top sit, all folded and awaiting some help from afar!
Deep breaths.
- Donna


wishes, true and kind said...

We've all been there! Whether it's a puckered top, a cutting error, a fabric bleed, or whatever -- quilting disasters do happen. But sometimes -- when the smoke clears, and calmer heads prevail -- cleverness and innovation take over. Sometimes the worst mistakes lead to clever solutions that actually enhance the quilt, or at least make for a great story. Or you can just enjoy time with your friend while she helps you rescue your quilt. And a little wine couldn't hurt.

Mary Perrine said...

I agree WINE!!! Actually this has happened to me too and my solution was to get it as flat as possible and quilt the heck out of it. Then it will lay flat!!! It might need some TLC squaring before hand, but making the errors will just make you a better quilter in the long run, because you'll not want to repeat this. Cute story and I will have felt the same about my husband's comments too. Can't wait to see it finished.. in a year or so. LOL

Christina said...

Is it bad of me to say that I would have just basted it and quilted it as is and then tossed it in the wash??? It's probably even worse of me to say I've done it on a few occasions. But, I have learned my lesson over the years. I square up EVERYTHING at every step of the way now. It's insane how much squaring up needs to be done. But seriously, it all works itself out after a good wash.

mokkakissa said...

Just burn it!

Sara said...

I agree with Christina, it's insane how much squaring up needs to be done. It's a good thing I love the finished products so much because that part is for the birds! We'll make that thing into a quilt if it's the last thing we do, Donna!

Mary Perrine said...

I was reading and came across this tutorial for a string quilt. I was wondering whether you sprayed starch on the block after ironing and after removing the paper? The tutorial suggested that the square moves unless this is done. That would explain why the "unsquare" part when it was pieced, but Ok when you sewed it. The link is:


Leslie said...

oh my goodness that had to be beyond frustrating....thank goodness that you have a wonderful quilting friend that will help you out.

jaybird said...

i feel your pain.. all the way over here. sometimes it just happens. i've been there.. and you'll get through it... and in the end it'll make you stronger, better, and a smarter quilter! good luck!!

sheree said...

God Bless You! I would never have wanted to see that top again and I would have put it on a guild yard sale (with a warning, of course) or it would have been one of those projects discovered after I died!

Capital Mom said...

That sounds like the best strategy for a bad situation. Glad that you had someone to talk you down. :-)

Donna said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words and suggestions. I will definitely try starching the heck out of the blocks before sewing them together again.

- Donna

Mickie said...

Good luck Donna, keep us posted!

Isa said...

You poor thing!!
I'm glad Sara is coming to your rescue!
I'm sure some wine will help straigthen that quilt top right out.

annie said...

Donna..the best thing to do at a time like that is to put it away, husband also, then a hot bath, a glass of wine and a good cry.. stress has been released and you can think with a clear head..i found this to be a cure for all my sewing mistakes..