Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed.... BJP & Quilt Camp Disaster

Last weekend was Quilt Camp! Four  days to stitch, uninterrupted, meals provided, no chores... oh joy!

For the first couple of hours I worked on making hexie blocks for my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt... fun, easy, known territory.

Charged, I got out my quilt top, the one pieced together with the 12 blocks I beaded for the Bead Journal Project in 2011. Each of the beaded Xs represents a relationship, a crossing of my pathway with the pathway of some other person or thing, especially one that was important to me during the month when I made the block.  Here's how it looks. For now, just note the blocks and the way they are assembled on the quilt top.

I had this idea of hand-quilting in diamond (or square-on-point) shapes to match the blocks. It wasn't easy. I worked for about 30 hours (2 whole days and into the wee hours of three nights) to do this quilting. The more I did, the less I liked it.

The idea of it is OK, I think... it ties all the blocks together, suggesting the interconnected pathways of my life. The whole quilt and the blocks look OK from a distance. But I'm pretty sure viewers would want to get close to see the beading. Looking at it closely, the hand-quilting starts to compete with the beading. Which to view? Which is important? Obviously, I wanted the beading to show, because that's the point (and the visual journey) of the quilt.

It didn't look too bad on the lighter colored blocks.

But on the darker colored blocks, the quilting stitches were really distracting.

Sad to say, I didn't realize how bad it was until I was nearly complete (with only one block to go). When the light bulb finally came on, I realized I had to take it all out. All 30 hours of work.  OK, so what to do? How to quilt this thing?

Well, my quilt/beading buddy, Lunnette, happened to bring a HUGE stash of thread with her. Stitch-in-the-ditch with a matching color of thread! Still hand-quilted, but not something that shows much at all.  Now you can see the beading!

In the picture below, you can see I've re-quilted the top and right-hand blocks. Is this better?  Is it worth the time to re-do it?  I think so! (Only 10 blocks to go...)

Lessons learned:
  1. Pay more attention to gut feelings that something isn't working.
  2. Be ready to abandon a plan that isn't working.
  3. Trust that a better solution will come along.
  4. It's only time.
By the way, if you're interested in joining the 2013 Bead Journal Project, here's a link to information and registration!


  1. Much better and I had to do this with something I was crocheting. Instead of barreling through and doing it anyway, I stopped and started fresh. I do this often with my paintings. Like you said, it's just time.

  2. ...lordie, WAAAAAAAAAY MO BETTTTAH!!!!!!

    That's a good lesson list, too. Gonna copy that & put it over my beading table ;>]]

  3. oh my dear!...I hate ripping out but you are on the right track. I almost always quilt in a design following the block shapes for that reason. I do not like quilting over seams. This really is going to make your beading the focal point of the quilt. Good Luck!

  4. I have a little note next to my computer that reads: Good is the enemy of great.

    I so admire your commitment to getting it right, no matter how much more work it took. Now it's great! I love it. I remember enjoying reading about each of those pieces and their meanings as you created them. Now to see the final piece come together is wonderful. What a treasure.

  5. Yes, you made the right decision, looks much better. My Mantra when beading or doing handwork..."It's only beads and thread". I really hate taking things apart, but I'm usually very happy in the end. Love your work and the way your squares look.

  6. Thanks, everybody, for the encouragement. Love your note, Loretta... I'll put that in my mental file. xoxo R

  7. The change was wonderful...and my admiration is enormous that you were willing to do all of that work and not settle for "good enough!"

  8. Ah yes the second solution is much better.

    "It's only time" made me smile as it is precisely what my metalwork teacher said yesterday as I was telling him 10 hours to make a tool seems like a very long time :)

  9. Yes Robin, you found the good solution. Courageous to undo and start anew! My experience is that light colours attrack too much attention. I seldom use yellow in my quilts. More improvement in your case was quilting in the ditch. I also like how you arranged the blocks. :-)

  10. You made the right choice Robin! I admire your courage! I love the way your arranged the blocks!

  11. I love your idea of turning the blocks into a quilt. It does look fine from a distance, but the lighter thread did take away from your beautiful beading. Very nice solution but lots of intense labor. You will be happy once it is done. I loved all your blocks and the relationships they reflected.

  12. Hello.

    Following your blog from here on in! I am your newest member! I myself an a beader and though have only been beading for 10 years i am outdone by your talents! LOL

    I have recently also taken to learning to sew... and knit

    feel free to come visit my blog if you wish,,

    Love meeting on line with fellow bloggers and sharing a good craft story or two!

    Cheers KIMBA xx

  13. Beautiful beaded blocks :) And yes sometimes there are leasoned to be learned. I also think redoing it was the right decision. I sometimes redo things on my crazy quilts cuz I just don't like it or don't think it just right. I also have redone large amounts of work to get the effect I was looking for. Enjoy your wonderful quilt.

  14. OMGosh, this was so gorgeous I pinned it, hope you don't mind. I just love your quilted patterns using beads!

  15. Robin how beautiful! Love how it turned out!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!