Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wintry Terrain

The sole existence of certain things in life is just to teach you a lesson - this is how I feel about this quilt. 

When I first looked at the bundle of fabric we received for The Modern Quilt Guild's fabric challenge, the colors reminded me of trees and mixed with white of ski slopes and snow covered hills. I ran with the idea and decided to piece rows of triangles on a white background that would depict a wintry landscape. 

I had a vision. I wanted it to be organic and natural looking (words heard a lot since moving to the west coast ;)) I wanted to create stacked arcs of triangles in various sizes like trees on gentle curve of hills. In my mind's eye it was a picture perfect setting.

As an engineer I am often told what limits a vision are the laws of physics. In this case it turned out that the proverbial laws of physics reared their ugly head all along the way. Paper piecing triangles on a curve would have been a more experienced quilter's preference, but I was hot off a class by Sherri Lynn Wood and wanted to embrace carefree improv piecing. Let it flow from the heart she said. I figured out a way to create arcs of triangles by cutting one set of triangles wider than the opposing row. I made a ton of such arcs in varying sizes and was feeling rather puffed up.

Next came the task of putting the arcs together.....this is where the proverbial laws of physics kicked in. The arcs didn't quite fit together and I didn't want to insert pieces of fabric in the middle to make them fit because it interfered with my vision. It's fabric so I managed to wrangle it into submission with the help of my friend 'Best Press'. Once I finished it would not lie flat and the seams were all over the place. 

My solution, just quilt it to death. Quilting will hold all the pieces together and I can ease out all the uneven parts if I strategize the quilting properly. How about match stick quilting? The perfect antidote to uneven piecing. Hours of tedious straight line quilting seemed to calm my mood and it was almost proving to be therapeutic when I noticed that the quilt had not only begin to have a wave like quality but the seams were all over the place so as I quilted I could see the dark colored seam through the white fabric. 

No worries, just a small hitch. I undid the basting around the area I was quilting so I could put my hand under the quilt top and push the seam over towards the lighter colored fabric before quilting over it. This did not completely solve the problem but at least reduced it. The quilting now was going much slower than expected and I was getting tired of handling the seams. 

Over handling the fabric at the seams causes fraying. Another proverbial law of physics was beginning to become apparent. Now I had bits of colored thread on my batting in addition to uneven seams showing through the white top. Undoing the basting around the quilting turned out not to be a great idea either. The quilt was acquiring a 3D look. It no longer lay flat by any measure. This was not supposed to happen. Stick to the vision.

Perseverance in trying times is what separates the men from the boys...I made an appeal to the gods of quilting on Instagram and they came with answers. All good ones. I felt heartened and finished the quilting. It soon became obvious to me that I would have to trim off some of the edges on the side. The quilt would no longer be a perfect square. No worries. I added more white to the top and bottom and decided the length would make up for the lack of width.

Once I finished quilting, armed with my 'Best Press' and my Eurosteam iron I decided to tackle the wave problem. I almost soaked the quilt with 'Best Press' and steamed it to submission. I went over the quilt a few times till the fibers began to relax and the quilt began to rest flat on the carpet. I must say the iron really saved the day. It paid for itself on this one. Once I was done it was still a little damp so I moved some unopened boxes from my move on top of the quilt and let it dry out. A day later it was dry and flat. I cut out the sides that felt as if they would wave up, but was still left with a substantial flat piece to call a quilt.

I have never bound something so stiff before. My hands hurt from hand binding as the quilt is not very pliable. However all in all I am done, this quilt is behind me and I lived to quilt another day. 

If your are still reading this, thanks for letting me vent. Appreciate your much needed support.  

This is just in time for Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side. I am entering it in the original design category. Hop over and see all the amazing entries that continue to inspire us to keep quilting despite the occasional bump in the road.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Wintry Terrain
Size: 23" x 54"
Category: Original Design
Pieced and quilted on home machine


  1. oh what a great post. really. It made me smile more than once, and I adore your finished product! Good for you for keeping going when the going got rough!

  2. For all the trouble, it is still really beautiful :)

  3. Improv triangles - love it! Great post. My solution is always to quilt it to death, too. :) I actually really love the rectangular shape of the quilt!

  4. Very cool! Love the unusual layout and the way your eyes find triangles made up from specific fabrics.

  5. I love your honesty here - made me smile in commiseration more than once! Your quilt reminds me ski slopes - the way the triangles 'snuggle' together with their likenesses, makes me feel like there is a ski run between. Awesome finish!!!

  6. Oh my goodness! When I saw this on Instagram I had no idea there was such a saga behind it! It is a truly beautiful quilt and I suppose has a lot of meaning for you now - your blood, sweat and tears are (in some cases literally?) in this quilt!

  7. Your persistence really paid off. I see trees on a hillside, in the most gorgeous colors. And I loved hearing the story behind this. Thanks for sharing, both the story and the quilt.

  8. Beautiful quilt. I love what you did with the challenge fabric and the story of the quilting is a good one. :)

  9. LOVE it! The slight wave to the triangles is genius. Kudo's to you figuring it all out.:)

  10. great post-very nice to read the story of the bumps in the road that lead to this fab quilt! luv it!

  11. Well it sounds like this was a bit of a traumatic quilt. it turned out fab though, great design!

  12. I so appreciate you keeping it real and telling the bad along with the good! This post made me smile and appreciate that I'm not the only one who experiences a 'bump in the road' once in a while. I really enjoyed your post. Visiting from Blogger's Quilt Festival.

  13. This quilt is great! Love it. Thanks for sharing its story. It's so nice to read about the actuality of making a quilt rather than just "I made this".

  14. It sounds incredibly frustrating, but what a beautiful end result!

  15. Wow, the end result does show any of the trials you went through. It's beautiful. Congratulations

  16. Well, we're all glad you kept going because it turned out wonderfully! I can relate to the bumps-in-the -road/laws-of-physics issues because of a recent project of mine. :) I'm so glad I got to see yours in person!


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