A Challenge Disaster – Plan A

I hope you are making water themed postcards for the 1 Million Mile Postcard challenge. Send me one so that I can share it with everyone! You have until the 15th to request one from me. Look at my Quilted Postcard tab for more information, including our YTD stats and locations.


Some things work. And some things don’t. We want to talk about our successes. We don’t want to talk about our failures. This post is to let you know that every one of us have projects that don’t turn out – and not just a little bit! It has been years since I actually cut something up because it didn’t turn out. This one got the scissor treatment for one simple reason – I didn’t want to come across it again in a year or 2. Unfinished. A reminder of a good plan gone bad. Most of my plans evolve. I can usually rescue or reuse but not this time. Plan A was cut up. Plan B was ugly. Plan C was finally something I could hand in. This post is mostly about Plan A just because I put so much time, effort and thought into it that I have to get it off my chest! You usually see pictures of things that turn out.  This is not one of those times. I might talk about Plan B next week and Plan C the week after.

2 fabrics provided

2 fabrics provided

Here was the challenge: Create an art quilt with a circumference of at least 80″ using the 2 fabrics provided plus a max of 5 other fabrics. No theme. This art quilt will be sold along with others at the 2016 Quilt Show (April 8-10th). All money raised will be going to “A Port in the Storm”.  This organization is a medical hostel that helps people in rural Manitoba and Northwest Ontario with accommodations while they are having medical treatment in Winnipeg.

challenge drawnSo what was Plan A? It was an Hawaiian inspired picture of tidepools. A very calm scene of trees in the background, a long wide path in the foreground with pools of water on either side. challenge top marked

To begin I decided to quilt the top and bottom separately because I wanted to use different techniques for each.

challenge top stitched

sky/trees (threads still needed to be buried)

After finalizing the tree design and tracing it to tissue paper, I sandwiched all the layers together – backing, batting, sky fabric, tree fabric and tissue design. Then I stitched around all the trees and peek-a-boo holes before trimming the top layer of fabric. At this point I left the top in order to work on the bottom.  Decisions on how to quilt the sky and whether to add satin stitching to the perimeter of the trees was going to be made at the end.

The path was my main fabric in the bottom section. Water was added as raw edge applique. Foam/algea was made from shredded pieces of the green fabric, and stones were going to be added at the end. You are not seeing an accurate picture because I actually forgot to take one before cutting it up. plan a cut

Where did things go south? The biggest problem was fitting in the 2 ‘had to use’ fabrics. I felt like I was trying to force them into the design.  Not because they belonged, but because I had to use them. They didn’t blend naturally with the subdued colours of the other fabric. The blue had a metallic sheen and the green was very bright. The nail in the coffin, though, was the thread I chose for quilting. It was beautiful. It was variegated. It was shiny.  I thought it would tie everything together. Instead, it stood out like a sore thumb. Mistakes were very noticeable. It was at this point I called it quits and the scissors went to work.

Failure is only failure if there is nothing to be learned. My biggest regret is the loss of my wonderful Ricky Tims hand dyed fabric. Otherwise, I learned…

  • let the fabric speak. Work with it instead of against it. I like to work with what I have but in this case I should have gone shopping.
  • A softer bonding layer such as Mistyfuse might have been better than Heat & Bond for the raw edge applique. Again, I used what I had readily available.
  • Don’t think a variegated thread will tie everything together. In dense stitching, the secondary colour on the spool virtually disappears. On light fabrics the dark portions of the thread is very noticeable. The reverse is true on dark fabrics.  I still need to figure out when to use this thread so that it will enhance a project. This was only lesson No 1.
  • Maybe I should stick with postcards!

Thanks for reading my story. Hopefully this next week will be more productive – for me and for you.

About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted; minimalist in everything except fabric!
This entry was posted in 2016, challenges, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Challenge Disaster – Plan A

  1. Laurel says:

    Looks like you were given a really good challenge. Challenges are sent to us as a test, right?

    I LOVE your trees! And, I love your initial “Plan A” concept. Your drawing is beautiful. I have very little experience with challenges. Are you able to alter the fabrics you are given? That is, are you able to tone down the brightness of the green fabric?

    I sure hope you share “Plan B” and “Plan C” with us…

    • Challenges are great, but this one was stressful! Yes, you will see Plan B and C. Altering the fabric was something I didn’t even think of. Now, that would have been interesting. BTW, I didn’t cut up the trees. They may reappear in another project. Who knows.

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