Why are straightforward projects seldom straightforward?

My last quilting project of 2017 isn’t quilted after all. And it is significantly smaller than the three quilts I made for our grandsons this year. But although it isn’t quilted … and it isn’t very big, the effort required to overcome one challenge after another surely should make up for its size and lack of “quilt-ness”! This idea all started from a Facebook post I made early last year, showing the world (aka my FB friends) the amazing painting our at-the-time 10-year old granddaughter had given us last Christmas, which we had subsequently framed. It got lots of complimentary responses, including one from a young friend and fellow quilter, saying that she thought this painting should be pieced and quilted, since it was very geometric and colourful. She even gave me a link to free software that allows you to upload a photo, choose a size for your quilt, draw lines on the photo where you want it pieced, and then print the template for cutting your fabric. [The software is called Quilt Assistant: quiltassistant.com/free-quilt-design-software.]

Granddaughter’s painting, my muse

I stored this idea and the software tip away until the time was ripe, and then made a start for what I foolishly thought would be a straightforward project. Why do I always make that assumption?! Since my granddaughter had already made her own quilt when she was visiting two summers ago (and she had truly impressive colour sense), I thought I’d make a wall hanging instead. The wall hanging idea morphed into a pillow sham, but that was later.

First off, I do believe this Quilt Assistant software has lots of merit; I have seen a few wall hangings my young friend has completed using favourite landscape photos with this software, and her results are good advertisements for the software (and for her quilting abilities). However, when your photo has lines and angles upon lines and angles, and strangely placed curved aside more strangely placed curved, the software really doesn’t simplify things. At all. So I had to come up with a custom approach to making a pattern. If I’d had a Xerox machine it would have saved a few steps, but I devised a multi-step process using our scanner, Photoshop, Word, and our printer to come up with a pattern for the background of the picture and for the all-important cat. Lots of paper, lots of cutting out. Don’t forget to add the seams to each piece before you cut, Jane. Why didn’t you think of how hard it would be to sew together so many angled pieces at odds with one another ahead of time, Jane? Etc. Wow, lots of challenges I made for myself. Hopefully, these new learning experiences – challenges followed by solutions – will stand me in good stead for future projects, as did two of the three quilts earlier this year. I live in hope in all things!

Step toward a pattern for the background

Background taking shape with pattern pieces

Cat pattern pieces on background

Cat fabric pieces pinned on background

Once I had completed the crazy-quilt background and sewn the cat pieces onto said background it was time to figure out how to incorporate the thick black lines the young artist had used to such striking effect. I had thought I’d use thin pieces of black fabric, but once I took a second look at the curves the black has to follow, I realized that this wouldn’t work well. For some strange reason I got it in my head that thin black trim would work better, so I went to the fabric store (a nearly daily occurrence) and got two spools of narrow trim. Of course, I realized right away that the trim might be easier than cutting black fabric, but no easier at sewing in place on curved lines. Hopefully, the spools of black trim will come in handy for some other project!

Needless to say, the solution was staring me right in the face: use a wide zigzag stitch with a very tight stitch length. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of black thread in this finished product. And sewing that much tight zigzag does cause more sewing challenges than usual. If you’re not careful the foot gets hung up on the accumulating pile of stitches and starts making a huge black lump instead of a nice flat black line. And just when I thought I finally had it figured out and had the upper hand, the zigzag stitch and sewing machine foot would sneak in a fast one on me. Many, many ripped out stitches later, we undoubtedly will be picking up stray bits of black thread around the house for many months to come. The thread bits seem to follow me everywhere. 🙂

Black lines coming together

2017 quilting ( and non-quilting) projects all done!

The really good news is that I still have three full days before we leave to see our young families in other cities for Christmas and I am happy to say that this project has been “put to bed”. Three days to give a bit more attention to other things. Or maybe just put on some Christmas music and join my husband in an eggnog. Merry Christmas everyone. And to all you quilters, craft-lovers, and other hobbyists – and writers – out there, spend a few hours before the New Year remembering all the fun things you have made in 2017 and thinking of all the projects you’d like to have on your resolution list for 2018.

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7 Responses to Why are straightforward projects seldom straightforward?

  1. I’m in awe of your skill and creativity, Jane. That’s impressive!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Aren’t you nice. Thanks. The best response was when I took it to Ottawa over the Christmas break and gave it to my granddaughter, whose creativity was my inspiration. She was very surprised and pleased, my true reward!

  2. I love the painting and I love your quilt. Well done!

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