Friday, September 18, 2015

Circa 1998

The second of my Friday Fall Flimsy parade is actually the first flimsy I ever finished, Circa 1998. It has been packed away since then with the vague intention of using it some day for free motion quilting practice. When I had to move everything after our spring flood, all the boxes on the bottom ended up on the top, exposing the sordid underbelly of my early quilt experiments:

Not too bad from a distance, but I can tell you that pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong on this quilt! Even when I started starting quilts in the late 70s, my feeling was that if I could set in a sleeve, sewing a quilt would be a piece of cake. So I had no lessons. How hard could it be? But, as most of you know, putting a quilt together takes a lot more precision than sewing clothes.

Living in California in the mid to late 90s, I started this, my third attempt at quilting, with a collection of small scale yellow and pink florals. Every fabric is a floral. Some are from proper quilt shops, but many were very cheap fabrics from Joann's.

Mistake #1: I didn't pre-wash the fabrics.

Mistake #2: I used a steam iron to press the blocks as I worked. Imagine my dismay when some fabrics literally shrank before my eyes under the iron! But not all of them, of course. So none of the pieces, or finished stars, were the same size. But, that was a problem even before I ironed anything, because...

Mistake #3: I didn't know to add extra seam allowance for rotary cut triangles. So none of the triangles fit properly, and some of the seam allowances are very scant. It is amazing that most of the stars look as good as they do.

Mistake #4: I took "scrappy" too far:

For the most part I think I had a good understanding of value, and these really wild blocks were deliberately wild. But, I realized that I was going to run out of my first sashing fabric (seen here on the top and right side). So I decided to make the sashings scrappy too. But, I couldn't find that same yellow, and I ended up with four different yellows in the sashings. The disaster was spreading, and I couldn't go back, because...

Mistake #5: I was attaching the sashings as I went along. This was really an attempt to correct Mistakes 1 through 3. Since all the blocks were different sizes, I reasoned that I could adjust the width of the sashings to even them up again. Which kind of worked, because the quilt is almost exactly 72.5" square. But most of the joins look like this:

Yeah. You know that quilt judge criticism, "straight lines should be straight?" Not so much:

There was a plan to add a Flying Geese border, but it was all too, too much at that point. Like Kenny says,

You have to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away, and
Know when to run!

I guess I'm finally ready to improve my free motion quilting, so the plan this fall is to get this basted and least partially quilted. It will be a good warm up for the others!


  1. Well, for a first quilt, this one is pretty darn good. And I see that you have been working successfully with prints for a very long time. You certainly do have an eye for value and balance.

    Re: the 5 mistakes. Most of us likely have very similar "artifacts" (as in more then one) somewhere in our cupboards that we could unearth, with the same 5 mistakes. Bravo to you for revisiting the quilt after all this time and giving it another chance. When all is said and done, it will be beautiful regardless of the "wonky" factor.

    1. Thank you, you are very kind! I'd like to say that I got all my mistakes out of the way with this first flimsy, but I doubt that will be the case. :D

  2. Your quilt definitely made me smile. So many florals! I hope you show us again after you quilt it.

  3. I think we all have one (or two) of these quilts! Kudos to you for dragging it back out to finish up. It'll be a great one to practice on!

  4. I was "off the grid" for a bit with the wedding and all, so I missed this when you first posted. The florals are lovely and even in the early stages of your quilting life, you knew how to put things together visually. The most technically perfect quilts can be really boring without that ability. So give yourself a break already. The "wild" block is very in these days. Have you ever seen quilts made by Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession? Ai, yi, yi. Yours pales in comparison. Use it for quilting practice and if you can't stand to look at it when it's finished. I am sure there is a nice lady at a senior facility who would love to have it. I think it's quite nice.

  5. Well, I guess there's time enough for countin' when the dealing's done! At least you got your analysis out of it - and a good story. I could benefit greatly from your experience - so thanks for the wisdom and the sharing.

    1. LOL, thanks Jillian! Quite right -- there's plenty of time to count it up now. :D

      It's a fun story to tell. Wisdom? Well... getting there, maybe. ;)


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