Exercise in Frustration

I missed a couple weeks of the UFO Sunday project, and really wanted to at least try to get back into it this week, especially because my self-imposed deadline of October 31st for the Blodeuwedd’s Woods quilt is looming. The quilt has sat for a few weeks now, despite having the batting and the backing. Have I mentioned that I hate basting? Almost as much as I hate cutting fabric, and it’s much more easily put off because you already have the quilt top finished.

Can you see one of the problems yet?

But I decided to give it a whirl. First though, I needed to audition some free-motion designs for the quilt top, since I still really didn’t have a clue what  I wanted to quilt on it. Even though it’s a very angled-looking quilt, I don’t want to just stitch in the ditch or echo the piecing lines, and I especially didn’t want to try top-to-bottom line quilting. With my small table and small sewing machine, that seems to be asking for trouble.

Hello, tension problems.

Not that I didn’t already have problems enough. While a few of them (like forgetting to lower the foot) were operator error, I could not for the life of me figure out what the hell was causing all the snarls and birds nests on the backside of my practice quilt sandwich. For get nice, swirly free-motion quilting designs, I couldn’t even get a straight line to come out right. However, after a lot of cursing, deep breaths, a glass of wine and half a large chocolate bar later, everything finally was running smoothly enough for me to try some actual designs.

I’m still really jerky, and it shows.

This still didn’t solve my problem of what to quilt in the main body of the quilt. Flowers or swirls don’t fit the design at all. So I went to the 365 patterns on Leah’s blog and browsed around for awhile. And I think I might have hit on a winner.

Tree Bark design.

And guess what? It was in the beginner list. Hooray! It was simple enough to not cause me to pull my hair out (unlike stippling…ugh), even in the first try there. I think it’s perfect, because the skill is doable even for my unskilled hands, it suits the pattern of the quilt and fabric, and can be done block by block so I won’t have to wrangle the quilt so much. Now I just need to find the right color of thread…I’m thinking a medium brown, and tomorrow I’ll hopefully get a minute to go to the quilt store in Salem that sells Aurifil and give that a try. However, that’s only the main body of the quilt. I still don’t know what to do about the borders.


Oh yeah, the borders. Which are wavy. I don’t understand how or why. I haven’t done multiple borders before, so maybe there’s something I don’t know to do when piecing them. However this is going to be a hell of a pain in the ass to quilt, and I don’t know what to do about it. Help?

Besides that, I don’t know what design to use in the borders. The 2 inch dark blue one may be alright just left as it is. I do want the quilt to be soft, after all. The larger 6 inch one…I just really don’t know. Ideas? I thought about doing the sort of side to side loop you can see in the very first picture, but it doesn’t seem to really match the tree bark motif. I’m okay with figuring it out as I work on the main part, but it would be really nice to have it all planned out so any ideas are appreciated.

Oh, and the basting? I ran out of pins. Sigh. So much for progress.


14 thoughts on “Exercise in Frustration

  1. Your tree bark looks great! As for the borders, I hate to say it, but you probably will want to get out the seam ripper, take them off and try again. In the end, you will forget the pain and appreciate the result! (I just did the same with a mitered corner on a quilt top. As annoying as it was to redo it, I’m glad I did because now it sits flat.) Whether it’s square or mitered corners, I cut border pieces a little long and attach them with few pins to hold generally in place. I gently smooth as I go, careful not to stretch the border or quilt top. I trim later, even after the quilting, to get a square edge.


  2. She’s right–when I don’t undo the wavy edge it drives me crazy later. It probably stretched a little when you sewed it. Just get the other half of the chocalate bar–because choclate understands–and rip away.


    • Lol, chocolate can fix just about anything! I just don’t know if I can fix it even if I do take it off, because I pinned them to sew them on the first time and they still did that. Did I pull the bias edges on the blocks, is that how that happens? I need to understand why it happened to be able to fix it, you know?


      • It’s hard to tell from the picture. IF you decide to take off the border, iron and starch the quilt top edges. If it lies nice and flat, then you didn’t stretch the quilt top edges out of shape. (If you did, I really don’t know what to suggest–some darts to take in any ripples?!) While I said that I pin, I mean to say that I only do this to keep a long border roughly aligned as I take things to the machine. Like, maybe one pin every 10 inches. I do not rely on the pins to keep the fabrics aligned. I manually keep the edges together, smooth very gently as I go and ease them through the machine together. I know this goes against those who say to PRECISELY cut a border to size and “MAKE” it fit, but it works for me and hope this helps!


  3. Try cutting your borders with the selvege edge instead of with the width if fabric. This works GREAT for birders and is the only way I piece them now that I have been quilting Day Styles Designs:)


  4. I LOVE the quilt and the bark design – and I’m so afraid that the other responders are correct that the borders have to come off. As to what caused it: I hope you left no bias edges on the outside edges of the center of the quilt (right next to the border) there’s a way to cut those triangles so that doesn’t happen. Another thing is that Leah says she does NOT pin the border (horrors) to the main part of the quilt and lets it find its own way (can’t remember how she worded it), gently guiding it and not pulling anything – kind of like Karen above says. Don’t give up on it – it’s beautiful and deserves to be finished! (Have another chocolate bar!!)


    • So many quilters can’t be wrong? 😦 I still can’t quite bring myself to do it…maybe this weekend. And definitely with more chocolate.

      I don’t know about the bias edges. This was made from a jelly roll…so I guess there might be? I’d have to go look at the pieces and think for awhile to figure it out, hehe.


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