A Eureka! Moment

It could have been a dismal day on the blog, but in a major "duh moment" this morning, my quilting woes of yesterday vanished. But before I tell you about my "Eureka" moment of this morning, let's just back up to yesterday. For reference, here's the quilt I'm working on again:

As I mentioned yesterday, I plan to quilt shamrocks into the center square of the Irish chain blocks, and then around in each of the large white areas in a North, East, South, West fashion, if that makes any sense. And if not, it will be revealed to you soon enough when I actually quilt one of these in its entirety. For now, the first order of business was to choose the correct cookie cutter template. I had three sizes, and it turns out that the Mama Bear size was the correct one.

The green squares are going to be stitched in gold metallic thread, and so the next order of business was to try like anything to get the tension correct. Fortunately, I have several cut-off edges of the border fabric that I can use as test strips, and so I gave it a go.

And that looked pretty good until I flipped it to the back. Oh, no, no, no. Well, that's a problem.

Okay so a good crank on the tension knob to tighten up that top thread, and I gave it another go.

And voila!

Perhaps I should add here that I recently watched a helpful but painful hour of YouTube about adjusting tension. It's really geared toward long-arm machines, but the principles apply to my mid-arm machine and domestic machines as well. I can recommend it, but try to have patience with these women who could have made a much shorter video if they'd spent less time gabbing.

If you can't see the video, then click right here.

Okay, so back to my quilted shamrocks. I like this Bohin marker, which makes an extra fine line. The "leads" come in both white and gray, and so they can be used on dark and light fabrics. I've had a little trouble removing the gray once I've marked it, so use a light hand when marking your fabrics.

In this case, I used the gray, and then stitched over my lines. I'm wanting to use that metallic thread because my border fabric contains metallic gold.

So the tension is looking pretty good, and when I turned it to the back, it looked fine there too.

I might need to tighten up the top thread just a skosh, but it's not bad. And then, I stitched it onto my green fabric.

Still looking okay on the back, although it's unfortunate that I chose the one place where the seam appears. Oh well.

And that was the end of patting myself on the back for the day. The remaining 5-6 hours were spent in fevered frustration. 

For one thing, the big idea I'd had for stitching the suggestion of Celtic knots into my sashings didn't work out at all. I had lines where I didn't want them, and I wasn't happy with the way that metallic thread was performing. Actually, it was my slow stitching, whilst trying to make straight lines that was the problem. The Superior thread actually performed very well.

I won't even bother going into all the problems I had with this, but know that I ripped out every single thing I sewed from then on. Eventually, I switched to the cotton thread I was using in the bobbin, but again, thread wasn't the problem. The problem was that I couldn't make the design appear in thread as it appeared on paper.

Toward the end of the day, I went back to my original idea, which involved bringing in the navigation unit from my car and I stitched one line from top to bottom. I needed to have at least one line of stitching to show for my day.

Then came a night of sleep. When I looked at that diagram this morning, I saw instantly that I was making it way harder than it needed to be. It's really just interlocking squares of stitching...just like the interlocking squares of fabric. Duh. And if that makes no sense to you, never mind. Just know that a simple design took me at least 48 hours to figure out.

The one thing I've realized is that I'm not sure what to do in the green stop border because my design will necessarily take me out into that border, but will only quilt it part way. I'll have gaps in my design that need some kind of flourish to fill in.

While I was thinking about it this morning, I remembered the Claddagh Ring I learned about while traveling in Ireland, and I looked up some images for it. According to Wikipediam "the Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring given which represents love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty)." It looks like this:

Well, that's not exactly what I had in mind, but in my Google travels, I came up with another image that gave me a different idea. If you can draw it, you can quilt it, and I drew out this little motif on the first try.

Who says I can't draw?

So all of that to say that I think my quilting day is going to go better today, although one should never make predictions about something like that. The only problem is that I'll need to take out that one successful line of stitching from yesterday. Oh well. Maybe that will pay my dues to the mean gods of quilting for today, and then I'll have smooth sailing. One can only hope.

8 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

Your patience amazes me as much as your creativity does. I tend to be a slap-dash-deal-with-it kind of person, which is why you have beautiful things to show and I have lots of abandoned projects. I'm glad you share yours so I can enjoy them. :)

Debbie said...

Thanks for sharing your thought process, frustrations, and in general how you solved it ----well almost. I love the idea of interlocking lines .....I probably would have used masking tape and stitched around it.. And probably gummed up my machine! But I do love your heart flourish that you came up with.....it is so great!
Sometimes I have visions of things that just do not work out like they should. Those disappointments are great teachers.....I have learned to accept and stick with what I do best!

Lyndsey said...

I'm going to watch that video about tension as my machine is currently playing up but I'm putting it of until tomorrow. Well done for resolving your problems. I hope your quilting moved along at good pace today.

gayle said...

May all your quilting go smoothly from here on out!

Doreen Auger said...

I can totally empathize with that experience! The underside of the first stitching happens to me all the time...for some reason I thing that my fave Superior Variegated Gold Metallic (#025) needs a very loose top tension......WRONG!!!!! I like where your designs are going......now!!!!!! Hugs.......

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I'm with Debbie - love following you thru all your thoughts and process in a piece. I hope things are smooth sailing.

Kate said...

Sound like you've got a really good plan moving forward. This one should be done in no time.

LethargicLass said...

I hate to say this, especially since you posted this three days ago, but I believe in being honest with friends... your shamrock looks pretty "blobby" :( Sorry... maybe clean it up a little and use template plastic? I honestly don't get a shamrock feeling from it, and with all the work you have put into this masterpiece I hate it to be ruined by that (hugs)