When It All Goes Horribly Wrong~

May 10, 2021 0 Comments


I’ve worked for days to make a stencil to recreate the quilting pattern done by a computer driven longarm on my brother’s quilt. No joy.

No. Joy.

I give up, it can’t be done. The differences would be clear as day between the computer longarm sewing and the recreation by me, a novice. It would stand out like a sore thumb. This beautiful quilt deserves better than that.

I did copy the pattern to transparencies.

I taped them together to form the complete pattern. Had to un-tape the pattern and work it one sheet at a time because (duh) it was too awkward to fit into the throat space. Then I ran the transparencies (one sheet at a time-yep, stressing that) under my machine to perforate holes to use as a stencil but my computerized machine doesn’t like being run without being threaded. Naturally assuming I’m a total idiot, she kept locking up to tell me:

I broke out my mechanical machine that cares not one whit whether she’s threaded or not, because workhorse.

Afterwards, I re-taped the pattern back together. But there I had it! The quilting pattern recreated, perforated as a stencil and a Quilt Pouncing kit…😬 I’m ready to go to town.

If you don’t know what a Quilt Pouncing kit is, well…it’s chalk. In theory, it’s a great idea. You load a sheep-wool-like pad with ground up chalk dust and then rub, do not “pounce”, but rub the pad over the stencil and the idea is to leave a chalk line of your pattern. Why wouldn’t we call this a Quilt Rubbing kit? Pouncing throws the chalk dust up into the air that gets…everywhere. Rubbing throws chalk dust everywhere, too, just slower than actual pouncing.

While researching ways to transfer the stencil over my dark quilt top, I read that a lot of ladies do not like the Quilt Pouncing method. After one attempt, add me to that subset of quilters.

The. Chalk. Gets. Everywhere. (Yep. Stressing that.)

After sewing one pass of about 8” of the quilting pattern, I must have had 1/8” of chalk built up on the presser foot of my new Q16. I freaked out. How can that be good for the machine??? I just watched a YouTube video that said you have to oil the Q16-24 machines every time you use them. (NOTE TO SELF: Double check that with the owner’s manual today.) Now I’m sprinkling heavy chalk dust into the mechanics of it?? STOP!!

So between being totally freaked out that I was going to do serious damage to this brand new expensive machine, and having chalk dust everywhere else in the sewing room…that method is out.

Then~I got very quiet for 3 days. I downloaded a small embroidery pattern, got my embroidery case, put my head down and worked it for 3 days straight.

Now that it’s finished, I cannot tell you what I was thinking while working on it. It was just the repetitive motion of stitch after stitch, one right after the other. I didn’t daydream, I didn’t think about doing anything and/or how to do it, my mind literally went blank for three days. I didn’t worry about laundry, or tidying the house, or getting out to clean Pimblokto the Airstream since we’ve just returned from a week long trip. I just sat and stitched one stitch at a time and let my mind go quiet. It was deep grokking, Robert Heinlein would have been proud. From time to time, I looked up and saw the clock had moved hours. For 3 days, I lost all sense of time.

As soon as I tied off the very last stitch, and put my tools back into my embroidery box, I knew what had to do. I went to bed.

The next morning, before I was entirely awake, my first conscious thought was “I have to redo the entire quilting of this quilt. I have to unpick every quilting stitch and start from scratch.”

In reality, there are more problems than just the wonky quilting of 3 rows of blocks. And by the by, I sent pics of the quilt to a dear friend of mine who is a Master Quilter and owns a professional longarm machine. I don’t know if she hires that out and takes in quilts to do but she knows her way around quilts and longarms. She said it looked to her that one of either 2 things happened to mine:

  1. The quilt top was not square to the backing/batting when it was rolled onto the longarm, which is exactly what I found to be true while deconstructing it. The quilt top sits skewed, much like a forward slash, / , to the backing/batting. Or~
  2. LongArmGuy loaded the quilt top, backing & batting onto the machine, turned it on and walked away. She says you can’t do that. You have to constantly monitor it while the machine is running because if you don’t, the three components will skew. She says one is constantly stopping the machine and re-aligning the three pieces to keep them straight.

I have no idea which one happened but I know I’ve been in that shop where LGA had both machines running and he is deeply involved in conversation with various people. He loves to visit.

There is more wrong with this quilt than just LGA allowed the quilt to skew because he was not paying attention. I very specifically asked for the thinnest low loft batting available. I had even considered just using 100% cotton sheets for the batting to keep the weight down but I’m afraid that the only cotton sheets I could buy would be pre-shrunk and I want the shrinking to get the quilting effect. That’s how concerned I was about using very, very low loft batting.Multiple times I pointed out that I did not want medium to heavy batting used because it would make the quilt too heavy. I’ve made 2 quilts years ago before I got back into quilting last year. The first quilt was completely made by hand therefore, the thinnest batting was used so you could pull a needle thru it. This was with a quilting class I took back in 2002. The second quilt I made in 2006 (I think) and not knowing any better, used a regular, medium cotton batting. The quilt is so heavy I could never sleep under it.

The quilt is a very, very large quilt to begin with. This is the second one I made that I’m keeping for myself on my queen bed:

It’s HUGE!! So I knew going in, I did not want a medium-heavy batting used. Guess which size batting LGA used for the quilt?

Hint: It weighs a ton.

Also, the quilting pattern alone was not the quilting pattern I chose. I chose an oak leaf pattern, not this feathery scroll pattern. But, when I picked it up, it wasn’t worth an argument so I said nothing. But back to the batting~

The bottom line here is, Quilting Bliss royally screwed up everything they touched on this quilt and to get it back to right~because this has my name on it and a reflection of my work~I have to take the quilting apart and do it again.

Even the backing, if you can believe it. Since the quilt is so large, I had to join 2 large pieces of fabric to make the backing. One would think to place the join somewhere in the middle as to be aesthetically pleasing, right?

No, not everyone apparently. The join seam is like 18” from one of the sides. I mean of course, LGA isn’t concerned with this. I’m not trying to pile on him with this. His job was to get the components onto the machine and hit “Run”. I’m just saying, now that I’m examine everything that is wrong with the quilt, that’s one of the things on the list I don’t like about the job Quilting Bliss did. But it’s not anything I would have made a fuss over inside the shop whatsoever.

That’s the conclusion I came to after 3 days of grokking: It has to be completely redone and best to just get on with it.

Bonus: I’m not stressed about it. I’m not sweating a self-imposed deadline to get this to my brother. I’m calm and zen. It will get done when it gets done and we will all be happier for it because it will take time to do it right and I will get it done right. While I’m doing it right, I will breathe in and out, I will do it one stitch at a time. I’m looking forward to it, really.

Today, I will be at the Bernina Q16, becoming one with that machine, learning how to work it. My Master Quilter friend suggested I use pretty pieces of fabric to practice with, because learning how to manipulate the fabric is akin to learning handwriting, and then use the practice pieces to make other things like bags or placemats. In my case, I need to make a dust cover for the Q16, so I’ll be making a quilted cover for the her.

I could be angry. I could go back into this little shop and raise a ruckus. I could take a bad situation and make it worse, that’s possible. Or, I can just let it go and just get on with it. Happy or mad, I’m going to have to get on with it either way. Lord knows, there’s way too much anger in the world right now.

Today, I wish everyone everywhere Happy Grokking! Mistakes happen. Bad things happen. Just get on with it and do your part to make the world better, not angrier. Thank you, Universe!

Now…with all that peace and enlightenment that has showered down on me from above, I’m off to clean the toilet in Pimblokto so I can go do guilt free play-play in my sewing room!


Jyps 🦋

Jypsea Rose