Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Ugly Duckling Quilt

A year ago I bought some beautiful fabric from the Flora & Fauna line by Patty Young. The fabric hung around for about 5 months before I decided that I wanted to put all of it into a quilt for my friend and sister-in-law Cate. I wanted to attempt hexagons and went about noodling how to make it happen without having to hand sew them. I discovered a method using large fabric squares with smaller fabric squares sewn in all four corners, ironed and cut in a manner to magically create a hexagon.

Due to Apollo's lust for life, sewing was a rare treat but every time I sewed a hexagon I loved the fabric more. When I had finally sewn the last hexagon at the beginning of December 2010 I started piecing the hexagons to each other with 2 inches of sashing between them to create six strips, six hexagons wide. By mid December I had sewn the entire quilt top but instead of feeling elated at completing my most ambitious quilt top of my sewing career, I gazed upon it in horror, I had turned beautiful fabric into a horrible monstrosity of gaudy, eye bleeding , busyness!

After a few hours of soul searching, I decided not to light it on fire, instead I basted and started quilting it, reasoning that Cate would love it despite its ugliness because, after all, I made it just for her.

Solstice came and brought our lovely Vancouverite family with it and since family visiting means much wine and Settlers of Catan, it was inevitable that the quilt would not be ready to gift to Cate on Xmas. I felt incredibly bad that she would have nothing on Xmas day so I showed her the quilt; Cate, as always, was gracious but I could tell she thought the quilt was ugly and I didn't think it was ugly, I KNEW it was ugly! By the time we reluctantly let them leave us to our -45 cold snap to go back to the warm coast, I had stopped working on the quilt entirely; I promised it would be done by February.

Buoyed by  new year's resolutions and a desire to just be done with it, I quilted all through the coldest week of my entire life. Progress was slow and though I played with the tension and tried to be gentle, needle after needle broke. I was breaking a needle per hexagon; it was like my machine was resisting assisting in the creation of such an ugly quilt. 12 broken needles later, I walked away; I didn't remove it from the machine, I just walked away thinking that I probably should have set fire to it on Solstice and let go.

Spring came and brought with it news that The Man was leaving us for quite some time. The Man, being a smart man, bought me a new sewing machine to soften the blow. While setting up to use the new machine, I had to remove the quilt from the old machine and I made a discovery. The feed dogs on the machine were up! The machine didn't hate the quilt; I had been breaking needles by my own carelessness!

For the past few months I have been back at the quilt and delighting in the accomplishment of my first fully free-motion quilted project. I finished it the other night and the quilting (though horribly sloppy and error filled) has greatly improved the look of it, the binding,  perhaps, has made it beautiful. People , even Cate, seem to like the way it looks. It seems the ugly quilt is not so ugly anymore.

1 comment:

  1. What a funny, funny write-up! I love my ugly duckling quilt, it will add a nice dash of colour to the living room when I finally receive it :)