Home Stretch: an Illusion

final inner corner

I finished up the quilting on the inner white field (background to the petal part) and thought–“Good!  I’m in the home stretch!”  Au contraire, mon ami.

narrow inner border

The next morning I got up and marked the swoopy quilting on the narrow inner border.  Yes, I’m pathetic enough that I feel like I want to mark every stitch.  At this point I’m watching millions of hours of longarm videos, as well as domestic machine (DM) quilting videos and everyone makes it look soooo smooth when they quilt.  I am really trying, but marking also just in case.  I stitch this and as I round the final bend, I realize that my stitching is more fluid and even that in the first foot or two of where I started.  I stop, unpick that section and re-stitch it.

crochet hook trick

Migrating threads can be taken care of by inserting a teensy crochet hook in between stitches in a seam, and pulling the thread out the side.  I’m successful at this about 70% of the time.  When I try this, I vow to study the quilts at the quilt shows a little harder.  Do they have this problem?  Do they worry about it?  I go back to studying longarm photos, seeing how even their stitches are, if they have wobblies.  They do, just fewer.  Is it fair to compare?  Not really, but I do it anyway.

quilting Colorwheel Blossom

I like it best when I can just go and go and the thread whooshes through and the machine hums and the TED Radio Talks are on in the background, not making me concentrate on anything.  I hate it the most when the thread breaks, or the bobbin runs out, or I bobble too much and feel like I need to unpick it and restitch it.

Quilting outer border

I take this photo before I go to bed that night and think “I’m done.” “Not so,” a little voice says.  Something’s just not right.

overlaying paper for ideas

I put that photo up on Instagram (IG) hoping for some feedback and the answer came back: the density of the quilting doesn’t match the inner field.  I knew that.  I just didn’t WANT to know that.  I overlay some transparent paper on the quilt and sketch in what’s been quilted, then try out some more bits and pieces.  I like the simplicity of the grid the best.

marking quilt again

More marking.

quilting done outer border

A ton more sewing.

colorwheel blossom beauty shot

And I finish.

Road Acceptance 2015

Somewhere in here I found about the acceptance of my quilts in the juried show of Road to California.  I’m dancing around on the bed, jumping around the house in complete and utter happiness.  For the last few years I’ve not gotten any quilt in and then to get all three??  I’m over the moon.

removing blue marker2

A very helpful Leslie, a quilter on Instagram, coaches me through the next step of getting out the blue marks.  I find a video on YouTube where the quilter uses a sponge and a cotton swab to get out the marks.  I follow her instructions.

removing blue marker

I’d done a teensy bit of grid right in the middle to tie into the outer border.

different between marked and not marked

As I take off the marks, I can’t believe how different (and better) the quilting looks!  I’m smiling as I swab. And then. . . of course.  I see all the areas where I’d missed stitching–there is one to the right of the vine in the photo above.

Colorwheel Blossom Drying on Bed

I checked my other expert I turn to for help: Linda of Flourishing Palms, and both she and Leslie suggested laying it out and putting a fan on it to let it dry.  So I put down my two cardboard cutting boards for a stiff surface, layered it with towels, then smoothed it out to dry.  Next up is finding and fixing all those missed sections of the quilt, and then the age-old question: how to bind this?  One of my quilty friends suggested a faced binding, and I’m leaning that way, for sure.

I’m pretty pleased with my work thus far, as I see it laying on the bed in the other room.  And I’ve really benefitted from a lot of encouragement from all of you here on the blog and in Instragramland.  But as I said to a friend today, why is it that I see all the mistakes?  And do I need to unpick them and re-stitch them?  I had the same experience with my Lollypop Trees quilt–and my uber-observant husband also found all the wobblies on that quilt (I’ve asked him to not do that again–one of me is bad enough!).  Leanne suggested living with it for a while before deciding, and after a couple of months, I didn’t notice the problems.  As much.

I’ve complimented others on their quilts and in return I get a litany of all the mistakes and the problems.  I don’t want — as Benjamin Franklin said — to look for the worm in the apple of my eye, nor do I want to see those flaws that others point out in their own work.  (BTW, my father always said the correct response when someone compliments you is”Thank you.”) So what is it about human nature that only sees the flaws?  Do you do this too?

All that being said, from the vantage point of the above photo, and my forays into the next room to check on the drying, I’m enjoying this quilt.  And happy to be at this (almost) home stretch.


28 thoughts on “Home Stretch: an Illusion

  1. First, congratulations on the acceptance of your 3 entries in Road to California!
    Your Color Wheel Blossom is lovely. I can only look at the photos you took and selected for us to view. Perhaps that is what Leanne meant when she said “Live with it for a while.” If you took random photos from all angles and distance, you would still probably find some things you would want to change. ( I am a perfectionist, too.) But if you showed them to others, would they notice them? Probably not. (Now that is not to say that a judge wouldn’t thoroughly examine it.)
    I say live with it for a bit and see what you think after Christmas. Congratulations on another spectacular piece.

  2. Oh oh oh . . . I am soooo impressed with your finish and your diligence in pursuing all those videos and tutorials and making yourself do it. It’s just wonderful. It was a great design to start with but your quilting has really made it. I’ve been struggling with that all week as I try to get a quilt done to enter in QuiltCon. Love the design but not so much the quilting I’ve done. I kind of know I haven’t taken it far enough for show caliber quilts but, I just don’t have the patience and desire to do what you have done. And of course CONGRATS on 3 quilts getting in. That is fabulous. You go girl!!!!

  3. Oh Elizabeth….this is so perfect! We are our own worst critics. You have been so close to this project for so long that you see the little imperfections. Enjoy this work of art.

  4. Congratulations on getting your quilts into the show, and your recent finish is absolutely beautiful. I understand about the home stretch. I crochet, cross stitch, and needlepoint. It never fails that I’ll think I’m almost done, then it seems to take for-ev-er to actually finish. Very deceiving.

  5. I’m so proud of you! Congrats on THREE successful entries. Any blood, sweat or tears on your quilts? I should think so. Enjoy the weekend, lovely sister.

  6. Congrats on your three entries being juried into Road to California. Your hard work has paid off on this one too. Well done persevering until the end! I can completely relate to your “I knew that. I just didn’t want to know that.” moment.

  7. Congratulations on your three acceptances! Even getting to the point of entering is a major accomplishment. I was lucky enough to take your Lollypop class in Grand Terrace.over a year ago. I knew you were talented, but now I know you’re triple talented.

  8. CWB is wonderful. You boldly and artistically met the challenge of white expanses! It sounds like you’ve resisted any sense of discouragement or urgency. Again, it’s wonderful.
    Congratulations on having three quilts juried into RtC! They are worthy of this honor! I’m going to be proud to say I’ve been one of your followers!

  9. It’s beautiful, stunning, really! You have done a beautiful job with the quilting! And congratulations on getting all three of your quilts accepted! Wonderful!

  10. I love the quilting on your quilt! And yes, those extra grid lines were necessary.
    Cheers on the acceptance into the show. Not sure if I’ll get to the show or not; it may be too close to QuiltCon this year. Someday.

    Perfectionism: I was lucky to be born without any shred of it. So far I haven’t ripped any quilting stitches. However, I”m still working on practice pieces for kids who aren’t going to care.

  11. If I ever dared compare my ‘wobblies’ to others, I’d never sew another stitch! Also that’s probably why I will never have a quilt in a juried quilt show! I hope my points on my star in your Christmas quilt stand up to scrutiny….
    As for being ‘pretty pleased’! Well, I hope you are very, very pleased, chuffed and proud of this beauty very soon!! It is stunning! As I said on IG I had no idea it was bed sized! Enjoy it immensely- it’s another winner!

  12. Congratulations on your quilts being accepted into the show. As others have said we are our own worst critics, I think your quilting looks great. The person quilting it always sees all the wobbles, errors etc because they are so close to the quilt all the time, I bet by the time it is hanging you won’t notice a lot of them. Yesterday I was reading a quilting book authored by a well known quilter and I could see all sorts of little wobbles and errors in the close-ups of her quilting, it made me feel quite pleased with my own quilting.

  13. thanks for sharing your quilting process. I think one of the hardest things about machine quilting is getting it even over the whole quilt. I always wash my blue ink out – do you wash or not wash your quilts?
    Congrats on the 3 entries to RTC. I was planning to enter but missed the deadline –
    maybe next year.
    Usually the farther away I get from a quilt, the more I like and appreciate and stop noticing the flaws. It’s is a lovely lovely quilt!

  14. How wonderful to get your beautiful quilts in the show!! Now on the quilting, your quilt is stunning. Look at it on that bed, standing from where you took the photo, you cannot see anything but beautiful stitching. That is where you need to judge the quilting from (well, unless you are putting it in a show with judges who are nit picky but they don’t count). The only time I unpick quilting is if the tension is messed up. Every fmq has wobbles, we are not computers and we don’t want to be. The wobbles make it yours, and special and unique. I just embrace them and I hope you will too, especially since no one but you can even see them.

  15. Ir is really stunning! Your quilting looks perfect to me, but I am not the one doing the work. If I were, I am sure I would see any little blip along the way.

    Congratulations on your entries being accepted to Road. That is awesome. I just love your Santa quilt.

  16. I have to admit when you started the CWB quilt, I thought it was lovely, but it didn’t pop (for me). Then you added the blocks and it got much better. And now that you’ve quilted it, I’m in love! Every stitch and design that you’ve added have given it all the personality. And I am in awe!!!!! Please don’t be hard on yourself – most of out here in quilt land will never even attempt something like this – but we do enjoy cheering on folks like you who do!!!! Add to that getting 3 quilts into the show and being willing to have them judged and you’re my “Woman of the Year”.

  17. Elizabeth, this is a stunning quilt! I have enjoyed watching your progress on Instagram! So much thought and hard work went into this quilt and it shows. I need to read more about the faced binding. What a lovely finish. I love the imperfections in a quilt….it adds character.

  18. I don’t know a thing about machine quilting but this quilt looks great to me! I’m a big proponent of keeping the focus on the big picture and I think the color and design of this quilt are such that no one is going to be looking at the background quilting with such a critical eye. And congrats on getting your quilts accepted!

  19. This looks beautiful, I hope you enjoy the binding a bit more than the quilting. What marking pens do you use? It looks like a good one, all the ones I find are too thin or too weedy with the colour they produce…. thanks

  20. Your work is so lovely, Eiizabeth! I hope to get to see it someday, in person. That would be so great. Congratulations on your 3 accepted entries…and one of them the MCM Sampler! Woo Hoo!

  21. Congratulations on all three of your quilt acceptances!!! Very well deserved. I have to say I am in awe of your latest quilt project. Each photo I see of your Colorwheel Blossom quilt is lovelier than the one before if that’s even possible. I hope I get to see this one in person!

  22. This is just fantastic. I love your color play in the petals and all of your quilting. Isn’t it funny how missed spots appear out of nowhere when you’re doing clean-up work?? That’s super cool about the Road to California entries! 😀

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