Friday, May 21, 2010

... the process pledge

The Process Pledge

i read this great post by r0ssie a while back about "mutant quilting" and it gave me much to think about for the past week. my thoughts are thus: as a relative newcomer to the quilt world it seems perhaps more obvious to me that what is considered modern quilting is quite traditional in its roots... i mean, where would we be if we didn't have things to "wonkify," right? and while i think it's good to constantly push yourself to create new and more interesting things, i hope there's always still room in this craft for a good old patchwork or a classic log cabin. and i don't use that term "craft" lightly. i suppose we could argue a whole bunch about whether quilting is more of an art or a craft, but i would ultimately ask, "isn't there room for both?" i would hate for those who love quilting for the sake of the craft not be valued because they are seen as not making "art."

but i really dig this idea of showing more of the process of what we do. for some reason i have shied away from this because i thought folks would not be so interested in my boring ramblings and thoughts. but i'm game to give this a shot. i certainly do have a bunch of random sketches and half-formed ideas that could benefit from exposure and input from you oh-so-wise internet quilting buddies.

bad curve

unfortunately for me, my process right now is dealing with this quilting. remember a couple of weeks ago when i was super excited about this quilting? well, due some bad basting my lovely pieced squares are starting to pull and stretch in all sorts of wonky directions. and this is not an intended wonkiness. if i was a better person quilter i would probably take out all this quilting and re-baste and quilt. but given that this represents over 10 hours of work, i'm a little less inclined to do that.

bad curve

i know, right?!

so my process is turning into one of acceptance. acceptance of the fact that these curves are going to become waves and that it's not the end of the world. and did i mention that this quilt is for me? so yeah, i'm not going to sweat it too much.

and see, i've learned something from this whole thing! learning is a process, too, isn't it?

bad stitches

but now there's one more thing i want to know. while in the midst of grappling with this whole pulling thing, my sewing machine decided to go cuckoo nutso on me and turn my stitch into this (see right). and i have no idea why it's doing this. you can see from that photo where i had to rip out two previous attempts. the only thing that seems to fix it is to turn the sewing machine off and then on again. anyone have any thoughts on why it might be doing this? i'd love it if there was some simple solution that i could fix.

in summary: boo for stupid sewing machines. but yay for the process!


  1. That 'bad stitch' looks like a tension problem to me, but I'm a novice sewer/quilter, so I'm certainly no authority.
    I know the quilting above wasn't meant to be wonky, but I think it's beautiful! Thanks for sharing your process thoughts!

  2. I finished a zig zag quilt two weeks ago with straight line quilting following the zig zag pattern....I ended up with "scalloped" edges at the top and bottom of the quilt from all the fabric pulling and stretching. At first I was devastated - but then I thought "Hey, it's not about's about a beautiful quilt that I created with my own two hands. Besides, scallops may be the next new thing!"

    I think your quilting looks like a tension issue too. Have you tried re-threading, changing your needle, or cleaning out your bobbin case? Those are my only ideas.

    I think your quilt is gorgeous!

  3. I agree. Looks like tension issues. Don't be afraid to move that little dial up or down a bit. It really will help. :)

  4. i, too, know these waves oh-so-well. i try to fight them or keep them at bay by changing the direction of my quilting with every line. like: start quilting at top, next line start at the bottom and so on. with insul-bright as a batting for instance i always have that problem, with some cotton battings not (so i try to use those :-)
    thanks for sharing, i am so gonna take that pledge, too.
    see ya, claudia

  5. What a great process post! Acceptance is the right idea. And, I'll add my vote that I think it still looks nice, even though that wasn't what you had in mind.

    I've had tension issues that I couldn't fix no matter how I fiddled with the dial. I hope yours is much easier to fix!

  6. thanks all! i'm not sure if this is a tension issue... if it is, it's doing it spontaneously and only intermittently. i'm sure i'm not changing the tension at all. i did thoroughly clean out my bobbin case and it hasn't done it again since i tried that, so maybe that's what the problem was.

    machen und tun: i like your suggestion for alternating where i start the quilting. i imagine this would help a lot! (and yup, i am using 100% cotton batting. i'm pretty sure this is mostly due to my crappy basting job.)

  7. What an interesting post, and I'm so enjoying all the different thoughts and processes I've been reading since Rossie posted.

    If it's any consolation, I think that the wonkiness is appealing in this quilt...but I do know how frustrating it is when a project isn't cooperating with your mental image because of some kind of technical issue. This happens to me a lot as a new quilter as I've read a lot more than I've practiced.

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing the finished those fabrics together! And I hope your bobbin cleaning solves the problem for good.

  8. I agree with the others on the tension. My machine randomly started doing the same thing and I had to pull out my old manual to figure out how to fix it.

    I love, love, love the orange floral fabric in the top photo! Where'd you get it?

  9. i've seen that stitching many a time, and it happens for me when i accidentally get the bobbin in backwards, meaning instead of the thread going counter-clockwise, i apparently pop it in going clockwise. which causes a tension problem. happy to stop by if it continues to plague you....

  10. liza--i wish i knew what that fabric was--i really like it, too! i got it at my local fabric store (the quilting loft) some time last year and i can't for the life of me remember what it is (and i no longer have the selvage). sorry!