Friday, December 9, 2011

Not my favorite

It's no secret that this is not my favorite quilt. This is the first one I started this year when I decided to start quilting. It was too ambitious of a design for a first project, and it was too ambitious of a size - the monster measured 89" x 103" before washing. Forgive me, but I didn't move all the furniture in my living room just to find out exactly how much it shrank. From the looks of it, not too much - I can't tell any difference in the way it fits on the bed.

This is the fabric that started it all:

It's Jam Session by Michael Miller. My husband has a great love for and an even greater tallent for music. I knew the moment I saw it that it was going to be the spotlight of his quilt. So I bought a couple yards and headed to a local quilt shop for matching fabrics. While I think they did a good job of matching colors, one lesson I learned in this quilt was to not use different types of fabrics together. The Michael Miller and Moda Basic Grey fabrics, as well as the blue Batik were fine, but the light tan, also by Moda, had a very different feel to it and stretched a bit more than the rest. The real problem, fabric wise, was the orangish medium brown. Very thin, very stretchy, very slippery, very difficult to work with, especially in the triangles.

Since it was my first, you can imagine I had a number of lessons from this one. The first being the fabric selection, but also I had the unfortunate experience of learning about that finicky 1/4" seam allowance the hard way on this giant quilt. My sewing background is in clothes, with the generous 5/8" seam and the large pieces of fabric. A seam allowance like that hides a multitude of sins, but we have no such luxury in quilting, do we?

On some blocks, I got it right and had nice points:

On most blocks, they look more like this:

Which isn't so horrible in & of itself, but then you have to do goofy things like this

while straight-line quilting because nothing matches up correctly.

And there's one more thing. Remember that nasty brown fabric I hated? It slipped out of it's seam allowance in one place. And I was over it - over the whole thing. So, I did the unthinkable. I glued the seam. Yes I did.

I really hate that I did that, because quilts are supposed to be sewn, not glued, after all, but there it is.

The other thing I learned about, that I have no images of, is twisted seams. This quilt has plenty, but I did learn by the end of it how to avoid them.

There are some things I like about this quilt. I love piano key borders:

And I did the best job to date of machine binding:

I stitched in the ditch so well that you can't even see it!

And I like the corners:

But overall, the craftsmanship was not up to my standards, and the color palate was just plain unpleasant to me. But here's the thing about quilts - they don't have to be perfect to be loved. It fits our bed very well, it feels as good and cuddly as a prettier quilt, and my husband knows I made it just for him. He doesn't care much about mis-matched seams and missing points - I made him a quilt with guitar fabric and he thinks that's wonderful.

Tomorrow, I plan to post a bit about how I improved that 1/4" seam and avoid twisted seams.

I'm linking this up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it up Friday.


  1. Well you did finish it!
    Every quilt is a learning experience really, whether its color placement, learning a new block or figuring how much you can sew at one sitting before cramping up!

    I hope you can enjoy it and not see every imperfection......Happy Sewing and Merry Christmas, Kim

  2. what a great post! congrats on finishing up the quilt for your husband. that's pretty sweet! and you know what, i love that you learned so much from this project. good for seeing it through to the end!

    thanks for linking up!

  3. Thanks, Kim. It's been my experience that the more time passes, the less you even remember the mistakes. I'm sure I'll come back in a year and wonder why I was so hard on this quilt:)

  4. Wow! that is a monster of a quilt! you did great! I probably would be too intimidated to try it...kuddo's to you!

  5. Impressive work! Especially for a first project! My first big quilt was a generous twin-size, and it took me a decade to finish. (I blame the hand-quilting.) So, I think it's awesome that you've got this one finished up and useable. I love piano-key borders, too!