I bet you’re all really curious to see what I’ve done with that lovely FQB of Ann Kelle’s Spring Urban Zoologie I wrote about a few weeks ago. The short answer is: not what I’d hoped. I do at least have something to show to for a few days of highly frustrating (entirely my fault) sewing, and I’ve learned a lot of really obvious “what-not-to-dos” along the way. I’m very surprised that this didn’t end up in my box of frustrating projects to be reevaluated over the summer.
Nearly every quilting book I’ve read brings up the old adage, “measure twice; cut once.” If only they could put something along the lines of, “check calculations thrice” in front of that.
My original plan for the blocks didn’t take in to account any seam allowance for the finished block, so I did some quick readjustments to add an extra half inch all the way around, although I didn’t quite get to adding it all the way around. I made the border strips a quarter inch wider, but I forgot to make them longer. I put everything together as was, and then trimmed it up, but ultimately it just created a bunch of extra work, and teensy bit of wonkiness that probably won’t be noticed by anyone except me.
Design boarding everything would have resulted in a nicer end product. I just started with a bunch of animal prints and a bunch of border pieces, and tried to make sure that I didn’t double up too much. Then, I had everything laid out nicely on my bed with the pieces numbered, and they somehow got all mixed up and by the time I realized it I was already so annoyed with this project that I didn’t want to have to unpick and resew everything.
It did get more frustrating though.
I decided to quilt this one at home, which was something of an experiment, as I’ve never quilted anything larger than a cushion top myself, and it was the first project I’ve quilted since I’ve had the Bernina. It’s actually difficult to rank the mistakes I made here in order of stupidity, so I’ll just do it more or less in chronological order.
Lesson learned number one: ensure that everything is basted nice and tightly. Failure to do so will result in a whole bunch of lumpy bits as evidenced here:
Lesson learned number two: remove one’s silicone slide mat when switching from FMQ practice to grid quilting. Failure to do so will result in some creatively wonky stitch lines and uneven stitch length. This one’s a no brainer as well, but I did actually put a few quilt lines in before I realized what the problem was. On the plus side, I have two of these, and as this one now has a clear impression of where my machine’s feed dogs are, I’m going to see if I can widen the hole in this and use it for more general projects.
Lesson learned number three: fancy machines have fancy quilting settings, and want you to use them. I actually had to take a row off this because I had so many arguments with my sewing machine and had to remove and resew one line so many times that it damaged the integrity of the fabric. Here’s a pic of what the quit top looked like at full size:
Actually, that’s it for all of my major issues, but they were all such basic, obvious errors that I considered using this quilted thing to smother myself. I did wonder a little if this project was cursed. One of my quilting friends said that this happens to her from time to time, and while it’s nice to put this all down to uncontrollable external forces and not take responsibility, I’m going to have to call this as my own continuing stupidity.
As an experiment I followed the advice from Made by Rae on using the backing as binding. It’s such a great timesaver (not to mention how much it cuts down on fabric use). It took me a little while to get the corners right, but they all came in eventually, and because the binding closes on the front, I had an excuse to use one of those decorative stitches that I rarely have need for. I’m actually thinking about using these fancy stitches for quilt lines now.
Unfortunately now, I have something a little too small for a quilt, I think, or maybe I’m just stuck in a mind frame in which quilts are always rectangular. Given the lumpiness of the back, I think I’ll send this to my cousin under the title of “baby play mat.” I know they’ve already been given a quilt made by someone much more experienced than I, so at least this is something a little different.