My Quilt is Cursed
Ok maybe it’s not cursed, but did you ever have one of those projects where nothing seems to go right, no matter what you do? Well this was mine. I became fascinated with the idea of this quilt almost eight years ago when I saw a picture of an old antique leymone star quilt in a book. The dimensions of the quilt were listed under the photo and I was able to reverse engineer the block size from these overall dimensions.
After spending a little bit of time working on the math, I figured out that the quilt was made up of (30) 12″ square blocks. Half of these were solid blocks decorated with quilting. The other half were the ones that were going to be a problem. These blocks were made up of two different blocks; one a six-inch solid square and the other a nine patch with every other square a leymone star.
If you are doing the math, you have probably figured out that makes each of these stars a whopping 2X2 inches. Each comprised of 16 pieces and 23 seams. About this time, I was thinking maybe this wasn’t the quilt for me. Especially when I figured out that each of the eight diamonds that made up a star were 17/16″ with the seam allowance. So I put the project aside, but something kept drawing me back.
Fast forward a year. I was looking through my project books and trying to decide on a new show quilt, and saw this quilt again. I thought “ok, can’t hurt to try”. Sometimes it really amazes me how much I can delude myself. I started trying to hand piece the blocks, but I will freely admit that I do not have the patience for hand work, so I started trying to figure out how to do this on the sewing machine. I have to admit that I am not a big fan of “Y” seams, and when they were only three eight’s of an inch they made me want to pull my hair out. I could get one block that was absolutely perfect and then the next 10 not so much. Oh, and did I mention I needed 130 of them?
I thought maybe the problem was I wasn’t cutting them out accurately. I mean when your cutting out pieces that are only 1/2″ square 1/64 of an inch can make a difference. So I had a custom-made accu cut die for my studio cutter. This helped, and by this, I mean now I was getting one out of every nine to be acceptable.
What next? Maybe I could paper piece it. Nope. There really wasn’t any good way to paper piece the “Y” seams and I really didn’t want to try to split the setting squares. I’m not even sure I could have given their size. I must have tried a hundred different ideas before I came up with one that worked, and it only took me seven years. The only thing that worried me was the stability of the points. With only a few thread in each (as they were so tiny), I just wasn’t sure how stable they would be, but it was all I had.
Now I should mention that I was on a deadline. I work best with deadlines. For the last nine years, I have debuted my new show quilt at MQS, not because they were a fantastic show (they were), but because the didn’t require the quilt be finished at the time of entry. They liked it to be mostly done, but they had been known to take entries that included a picture of a pile of fabric and a description of what it was supposed to look like. Not that I would know anything about that. Lol
The entry deadline was the second week of March and the quilt had to be there by the first week of May. This gave me six weeks to finish the quilt. I had always made it before, and had no reason to think this year would be any different. I really should know better than to tempt fate.
Everything was going great. I got the top pieced and quilted and I was really pleased with how it was turning out. The only thing left to do was soak it to get out the water-soluble pen I had used to mark the quilt and bind it. I got it off the frame, soaked it and laid it out to block and dry. I thought everything was fine until I checked on it the next morning.
I should also probably mention that I had used a beautiful purple batik for the stars. I always prewash my fabric and thought I had rinsed it enough. Apparently, not so much. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I walked into my studio to find that my pristine white background fabric was now a pretty tie dyed purple. Well #$%#.
I spent the next two hours researching how to get excess dye out of quits, without having to put it in the washing machine. I finally decided on the tub method. Fill the tub with hot water and dawn, totally submerge quilt, and leave for 8-10 hours. Several very notable quilters swore by this method and I’m sure it probably worked great for them, but not so much for me. I tried rinsing and repeating, but all I wound up with was a pink/purple quilt. There was nothing left for me to do but try the washing machine. Three cycles and a ton of synthrapol later I had a white quilt with purple stars, but really crappy points. Unfortunately, the only thing I had got right so far, was that the points weren’t up to machine washing.
The show was only a week a way. There was nothing to be done but pull the quilt. I felt awful, but what could I do. This was the only time I hadn’t made the deadline. I apologized profusely to the quilt show chair and then felt sorry for myself for the next few days. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I still wanted to make this quilt. I did the math, and decided if I could make 10 stars a day I could make the May 20th deadline for Houston. Remember it was May 2nd.
I figured out a different way to do the points so they would be more secure, washed the bejeezes out of the purple batik, and spent the next three weeks frantically making stars, quilting, and binding the quilt. I finished it 2 hours before the entry deadline. Thank god Houston went digital last year or I would never have made it.
Finally, I was done and everything was great. It got accepted and now it was time to ship it off to Houston. I decided to ship it rolled instead of folded for the first time. Why I thought this was a good idea, I don’t know. I rolled it around a pool noodle and off it went. I thought everything was fine, great in fact. I even got a message that they wanted to included it in the promotional magazine. Yippee!!! Then I got to the show and saw the quilt and the magazine. It was really crumpled and looked awful hanging. LET ME BE REALLY CLEAR ABOUT THIS I love IQA, and I know that they took excellent care of my quilt. I am absolutely sure that the problem originated with the shipping company. I always ship exclusively FedEx, because UPS always looks like a 600 lb. gorilla jumped up and down on my package, no matter what way I ship it. This time, because of my bright idea to ship it rolled, it had to go UPS, because it was too long to ship ground per FedEx’s rules, and they mangled the box.
No problem, this was fixable, right? Got the quilt back, reblocked it, gave it the once over with a fine tooth comb, and sent it off to the next show. It went directly from there to its first AQS show. AQS will now send your quilt from one show to the next until Paducah, and then it comes back home. So I didn’t see the quilt between December, and the end of April, and it didn’t have to go to another show until Grand Rapids, in July.
I will admit I did what I usually do when a quilt comes back from a show. I looked at a part of it to make sure it was mine, and then stuck it in a corner until it was time to get ready to send it somewhere again. Fast forward two months, when I pulled it out to get read to steam it and send it to the next show.
It was stained yellow all over the quilt! Again, LET ME BE CLEAR this was not caused by anything the show did. I have had this problem happen before. Not very often, but it has happened. Near as I can tell, it is a weird combination between the batting and the blue markers I use to mark the quilting designs. Normally it happens relatively early, but for whatever reason it didn’t this time. So now I had a yellow quilt and a show it’s supposed to be at in a week. Fortunately, I knew how to fix this problem. You toss it in the washing machine with a ton of oxyclean.
I was thinking about this time that maybe this quilt was not necessarily cursed, but definitely bad luck. I was fairly sure that I had fixed the initial point problem, and that I had washed the batik enough that bleeding wasn’t going to be a problem. So I crossed my fingers and tossed it in the wash. I hand agitated it and only used the spin cycle to wring out the excess water.
Now you should know that I had recently gotten back from vacation and had just finished up almost seven loads of laundry with absolutely no problems. So I had no reason to believe this load would be any different. I gently took the quilt out of the machine and went to lay it out flat to dry. It was covered in MUD!!!!!! Not a little bit here and there, but big giant chunks all over the whole quilt. What the #$%$#.
I spent the next three hours cleaning my washing machine. I’ll admit it wasn’t factory clean, but it wasn’t full of mud either. I cleaned the tub, around the lid, the agitator, everything I could reach. Then I ran a washing machine cleaner through it, twice! I picked all the big pieces of mud I could off the quilt and tossed it back it in the washer. Repeated the washing and rinsing and pulled it out super carefully making sure to not touch the sides or the lid. Again, covered in mud!!!!! No, I have no freaking clue where it came from. Yes, I have been wracking my brains trying to come up with an explanation. Don’t have one. Ran four more loads of laundry after and no mud.
I wasn’t going to push my luck a third time. So, I laid out the quilt and used tape to pick off as much of the mud as I could and then spot cleaned the rest of it with a clean cloth and dawn detergent. I was able to get all the mud off and the quilt was now white again. Maybe things are looking up. It dried just in time to ship it off to Grand Rapids. If you happen to be at the show, you’ll have to let me know if it’s still white, as it’s going from there to Des Moines and I won’t see it until October. If it comes home yellow, I am having a party. I’m going to light a bonfire and burn it, because I will know for sure that this quilt was just not meant to be. If you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to join me.
Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the mud or yellowing to show you. I was too busy freaking out to remember to take any.