Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

In case you think quilt creation for me is all beer and skittles, I want to take you behind the curtain and share my latest humbling quilting experience. I haven’t done such a bad job in years. I’m embarrassed to reveal my ineptitude, but I want to make a clean breast of it. Maybe we can laugh about it, sometime.

In December I showed you “Deep Purple,” an improv created quilt top and asked your advice about how to finish it. The advice you sent was helpful, and I used it to complete the top.

Recently, I started to quilt this piece, and what began as an improv quilting design devolved into a royal mess. First, I decided to quilt edge to edge with purple thread, following some of the angled pieced lines. Then, when I saw all the intriguing shapes those lines created, I decided to quilt the shapes separately – in a different color thread.

The chartreuse thread I chose went well with the main non-purple color in my quilt, but I didn’t have as much of the thread as I thought. I placed an order for more, but it would take a week to arrive. So, I quilted only three rounds in each shape with chartreuse, and filled in the rest with my purple thread. Oh, I also decided to change the quilting direction to just parallel lines. The process of yanking the quilt through my sewing machine’s harp with each round was hard on my machine and my arms.

When I changed to parallel lines I decided to use my machine’s automatic tie-off feature so I wouldn’t have to hand knot and bury hundreds of thread ends. I’ve done this before and have gotten by with it. However, the purple thread I was using on the top and bottom stood out blindingly on the yellow-green backing fabric.

Because the shapes were so awkward, I had to start and stop my quilting lines however I could. I did switch to a lighter bobbin thread once I saw what was happening. The change helped a bit, but the thread barf balls still show up well. At this point I wasn’t open to ripping out and starting over.

Usually I steam press the daylights out of my tops to get them flat. However, “Deep Purple” has velveteen, which marks badly when steam pressed, so it was lightly pressed. Despite pinning, parts of the top were looser than others and the fabrics were different thicknesses, so the fabric scooched up along the bias lines I was quilting. The result was sheering and tiny pleats. I did redo some of the worst. Yes, I used a walking foot.

Right now this mess hangs over a banister, awaiting some sort of edge finish. Like me, it looks OK from a distance in dim lighting. Up close it’s another story.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

13 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

13 responses to “Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

  1. Put it away for a month and then look at it again. You’ll forget most of the areas you are unhappy with! I sued to do that when I made my clothes. I was ALWAYS unhappy with them so I’d hang them in the closet and not wear them for a month. By then I had forgotten the miserable journey!
    I think the quilt looks great!

  2. I get those little puckers all the time and they drive me nuts, but never nuts enough to rip them out and start over.
    But your quilting lines are so lovely and close together, with beautiful crisp turns at the corners — I would never achieve that, or really, even try. So I sympathize about the puckers but I am so impressed with the other qualities!

  3. I know all about those thread balls, so I feel your pain. I think the quilt looks great, but I do understand the frustration of it not coming out as you had hoped. Maybe a little time out for awhile, while you come to terms with it. It will have a story to tell, and you learned from it as you worked on this stage, right? I love the design and the colors.

  4. You need to love your design enough to forgive the technical parts you don’t like! It’s a great piece, the back really doesn’t matter unless you want it judged by traditional quilt contest standards and we are ART quilters, so….not! If you hate the front, hide it away for a while. It won’t look bad when you take it out of hiding!!

  5. I’ve given up worrying about how the backs of art quilts and wall hangings look. My technique is dodgy at best, and usually they look like crap. So if that’s what bothers you, I recommend not being bothered by it. As to the shifting and tiny pleats, you could chalk it up to a learning experience, or you could try embellishing. Other than that I don’t have much to offer, because the photo you show makes it hard to see as the typical viewer would. Still, I feel your disappointment and hope you can find things to enjoy about it. :/

  6. I get all agitated, just hearing abut machine quilting! It sounds so hard to do and get it right but, then, I get agitated doing any machine sewing at all usually. I think the quilt looks great but I know how we see flaws in our own work that one else will ever notice.

    • As I said, a dim light and distance will make this one look better. It’s just I know enough about machine quilting to know I can do better, but I’m not willing to rip it all out. And you haven’t met a certain friend of mine who can spot flaws from 20 paces.

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