So, I had this idea back in 2015 when I was still quite new to quilting, though not new to sewing. It seemed great at the time; love letter blocks done in triangles: the “envelopes” in Christmas fabrics and the “space” in white. The key factor was to write our family sayings coming out of the envelopes. I can see it in my head – fun, fabulous, and full of family memories, wit and wisdom. Words are important in our family. (In the 90s, when we were all avid Terry Pratchett fans, we had a frieze of his sayings all around the living room.) We have an idiolect, a set of sayings and phrases we all use and laugh about, while other people think we are mad. For instance, if anyone says, “it’s a beautiful blue” the reply will invariably be, “ but it hasn’t a hood”, because we were all brought up on Christopher Robin.
But the best laid plans of mice and men, as they say, aft gang a-gley.
I started by cutting 10” squares,then cut these into half square triangles. I made enough blocks to cover a bed and arranged them to my liking. Very quickly indeed. It might even be ready for Christmas? So far, so good. Then I had the bright idea of using my new machine to write the phrases BEFORE I layered it. I felt stitched letters would be too small to quilt effectively. I wanted to add a lot of “ wisdom” and at the time I was very inexperienced in free-motion quilting. I had a new machine that stitched letters, and I set to, in black thread to replicate the old letters that predated Christmas cards, texts, round robin typed letters, and all the modern shortcuts we use.
In my inexperienced gung-ho fashion, I neglected to try the writing on scrap first. Big mistake, huge. I tried 3 styles of writing and attempted to curl the sayings like smoke drifting upwards. And it truly was a disaster. I didn’t think to use stabiliser. Oops…Total and complete disaster! Too dark and strident, badly aligned, just wrong, wrong, wrong! So I put it away, like a guilty secret.
Christmases passed. And then in 2020 I got it out again and started to unpick the writing. Do NOT try this at home! It really isn’t worth it. I will unpick seams readily, but this was modern stitching, copper-bottomed, iron-clad letter writing and it was immoveable. Every stitch is doubled and trebled over again. So I did something I swore I would NEVER do; I cut the square blocks up at the seams and discarded the bits I could not unpick. I will not unpick a gazillion quarter triangle squares! I have neither the patience or the remaining years left.
And the Pandemic struck, and we had no more quilt groups. So away it went again, back into the oblivion of my sewing room….
But the siren song of Christmas 2020 calls me now, and on the plus side, I am a whole lot better at free-motion now. I M still Mathematically inept however, so recutting the blocks did not appeal. I am a great believer in the Good Enough Principle. This quilt will never be sold, exhibited, donated or otherwise put on public display. So, little Rebel that I am, I reassembled them and continued with my original plan, only this time, even though my corners will be oddly blunted. I had to cut out the failed stitched triangles and replace them. Then I restitched blocks of 4 until the top was complete. I realised at this point that I could just have appliqued replacements and cut out the underlying mistakes……but, at least I have learned from my mistake.
Then I added a cheerful gingham back from a recycled curtain and layered it.
The quilting in-the-ditch outlined the rows and columns to stabilise it all. Finally, I used the scraps to make a pieced border. I no longer enjoy hand sewing, so I stitched the binding on with a pretty cross stitch on my machine. Success – of a kind. If you ignore the recycled curtain backing, the chopped points and the non meeting seams: and the sayings……maybe next week? Just don’t tell the Quilt Police!