Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Literal Elephant in the Room...

Do you ever reach that point in a project when you really just start loathing it?  I'm there - I'm so there - with my Elephant Parade quilt.  Everything about it is feeling wrong and its more than a little depressing. 
They look so innocent, don't they?
Last you heard about this quilt, I had redone the blocks into more sparse pops of color. They still weren't quite what I loved, but at this point I wasn't going to go back to the drawing board a third time. I stuck with the small squares and once they were all sashed together, I liked them marginally more. The layout was reminding me a bit of confetti - appropriate for a parade. There was a smidgen of hope.

I put the back together pretty quickly - the quilt top is small enough so that a single cut of fabric was wide enough to cover the entire back.  I had quite a few strips of colored fabric cut and abandoned from the original block design, so I appliqued a couple here and there with a few elephants parading along. 

It was at this point that my first major "oh crap" moment presented itself - when I realized what I should have done with the quilt in the first place.  I loved the solo elephants on the back much more than a whole line of them on the front. If I had just been patient and let the fabric marinate in my mind a little more, maybe I would have thought of fussy cutting elephants into the center of a few blocks and randomly placing those here and there on the front along with the confetti.  That would have accomplished the more sparing look that I was going for.  Too little, too late.

With the back and the front completed, I just had to settle on a quilting design.  "Oh crap" moment #2 - should have just gone the easy route and done a simple crosshatch pattern with simple, clean lines on a quilt that I was already feeling kind of "meh" about.  Instead, I got it in my head that it would be cute to do echo quilting around one or two elephants in each row.  Some spray basting plus a couple extra pins here and there and I was ready to go.  It started out okay...and then hours (or what felt like it) later, I had made little progress.  And I was still in the first row.  Break out the wine!

An essential quilting tool

First elephant echoes - okay.  Second elephant echo and "oh crap" moment #3 presented itself - the motion of the circles was moving the fabric (despite my heavy basting) in opposite directions and as they got close to each other, I was getting rippling.  Lots and lots of rippling.  My pictures here are being pretty kind.  I think it looks much worse in person.    And it got even worse in the second elephant row. Despite the major rippling on the top, the back is shockingly remaining ripple-free - pretty much the exact opposite of what I would have expected.

Not to mention that at this point I was really regretting the design in general.  I thought it would highlight the elephants in a cute way.  Instead, now that I'm hours and hours in, I think they look like giant bullseyes.  This could be the bitterness talking though. 

So I'm giving myself a time out on this project.  It's getting put away for a week or two until I can look at it without wanting to take my rotary cutter to the whole thing.  Does this ever happen to you too?
Linking up to:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Plum and June


  1. This happens to me on every project!! I call it "the valley of despair". Rest assured, to the casual observer this quilt looks awesome and you are probably just suffering from having spent so much time looking at it and thinking about it. Also I know that quilting has been painful, but from my perspective it looks amazing. !! I'd just keep plugging away. You will feel delighted to have it finished and not lingering as a UFO.

  2. Ugg, I hate when a project makes you feel that way about it. It's happened to all of us. I have a quilt top that I have refused to touch since retreat last year because I haven't been able to get it to lay straight, the fabric provided (it was a Fat Quarter Shop BOM) had a burn hole in it, and so much more. At some point I know I'll go back to it, but for now, it stays in the closet.

    Put this one aside, and when you need some mindless, carefree quilting on something you don't really care about because you can't hate it any more than you already do, pull it out.

  3. I have a project like that. In fact I just finished it. (I'll be sharing it Friday.)

    But I like the quilting! Keep going!

  4. I like your little elephants :) The simply woven blocks I am currently working on are like that. I still have 36 blocks to go and I hate doing them.

  5. I'm currently working on a project that I feel is just "meh" however, it's for my husband and he's been begging for a quilt so I guess I'll keep going.
    I think the elephants are adorable and you are being too hard on yourself!

  6. Keep going, the quilt is adorable!

  7. Hang in there because from an outsiders perspective the quilt looks great. I know its taking forever but I think the quilting looks awesome. Have another couple of wines and get it finished!!

  8. I have so been there!!! It looks fabulous so give it some time and some wine...

  9. So, fun story, I came and looked at your blog after this week's WIP Linky because of the elephants, and now we actually met in person. I love little critters on kid quilts.

  10. I think you're being a bit harsh on yourself - it looks really good! And even if you hate it at the end, you can always just turn it over and call the back the front!

  11. I call this my "FFF" moment (yes that does mean what you think it does). I do so hate it when you have an inspirational moment (like your little fussy cut elephants) when you have nearly finished something. But turns the end result looks great and I definitely didn't think 'bullseye' when I saw your finished quilt!