Minuet Disaster

So, here I was at the end of the last post on Minuet, with the quilt fully loaded.  I was having quilter’s block on the design.  All I knew at this point was I had rejected the idea of feather wreaths, as I have done those before and wanted something different.  I had decided to do some stitch in the ditch to hopefully get the creative juices flowing again.  Alas, it was not going to be that easy.

I got out my long rulers, and started doing the ditch stitching.  I read online that many quilters do all their ditching around the edges first, so I thought I’d try that.  I did both sides of the outer white border.  Then I stitched in the ditch on the inner white border on both sides.

While I was going along, I did the piano keys in the middle border, as those were SID as well.

All the way around the quilt, I finished off the bottom borders, then breathed a sigh of relief that I had enough backing to make it to the bottom edge.  But that relief would be short lived.

Next, to figure out a design for the inner blocks, I taped together pieces of Golden Threads paper and started playing with my curved ruler.

The idea was beginning to gel, but not quite right for the block itself.

I thought the intersecting lines should end at the outer corners of the color squares, so I did a basic drawing again.

I did several, some with echoed lines, and others with just the main shape.

I felt the design of the main petals and diamond shapes would not be enough quilting, so I added some echoes inside the main shapes.  I can then use echoes between the medallions when I get the blocks done.

OK, finally I have a plan.  I was almost ready to start, just needed to do a bit of practice with the machine, just moving it next to the ruler to get the hang of it before I turned the machine on to actually sew.   I rolled the quilt back to the top.

But when I looked underneath, the backing was sagging, even though the top was flat.  And not just a little, there are several inches of extra fabric hanging down.

I loosened it again, and tried to redistribute the fullness across the quilt.

But that didn’t work.  I kept getting this excess either on the top or the backing.

So frustrating!  It seemed to get worse instead of better.  At this point I had a few choice words, and started slamming doors and drawers, turning the air in the basement blue.  I phoned my friend, Terry, who does a lot of custom work, and she gave me the bad news.  She never does SID all the way around the quilt in this manner as this always happens to her.  She floats her tops, the way I do for pantographs, and does the quilting from top to bottom in the center section first.  Then she goes back and does the borders.  Her advice was to try some basting in the middle to see if the fullness would redistribute, and if that didn’t work, the only other recourse was to remove the stitching from the sides and bottom, and start over.  Otherwise, I was going to get pleats on the backing, or worse, on the top.

I tried the basting idea, and had to take it back out as it didn’t work.  So, there was nothing more but to bite the bullet and take out almost all the work I’d already put in it.  DH took pity on me and helped me remove the stitching from the ditches between the borders, the edge, and the piano keys from 75% of what I had already done.

We painstakingly removed stitches, being ultra careful not to put any holes in the fabrics or the batting.  In actuality it went faster than I thought it would.  I worked on it alone for a couple of hours one afternoon, and then we worked together in the morning of day two.

We picked out all the thread bits, and I released the batting and top, repositioning it to float as I am accustomed to doing.  The backing was carefully rolled back onto the bottom leader bar by itself.  The batting is draped under the machine over a rail, and the top is floating.  It is still attached at the very top, with the borders now stitched only to the bottom of the first row of blocks.

I’ll start again with the quilting, and hope it goes better with the second attempt.  I’ll be doing a bit more practice with holding the ruler first as it is pretty awkward right now.  I still have hope to finish the quilting in time to get it bound and ready for the fair.  But, if I can’t there is always next year.

Ever had a disaster like this?

48 thoughts on “Minuet Disaster

  1. That is so frustrating! I’m not a long arm quilter but I imagination! Your husband was very kind to help you. This quilt is beautiful and deserves beautiful quilting. Happy & better stitching!

  2. Jack the ripper murdered those seams nicely! This is going to be a beautiful, I love your practice ideas. This very thing happened to me and I did not know why, glad to know the explanation! My light bulb moment, was dim, and now a little brighter! Thank you, still so much to learn!

  3. I am so sorry to hear that but at least you were able to correct it in time. It seems that in the last year, I have gotten very well acquainted with my seam ripper! Sometimes, we just have to do it. I know the quilting will be beautiful.

  4. Karen Marlow-Goad

    I feel your pain! what a lot of work to undo. I feel your pain and that was so nice of your hubby to help you take it apart!

  5. So sorry for your quilting disaster. I don’t have a quilting machine and I have only hand quilted a few times, but I always start in the middle and work out so that I don’t have any backing problems. I think I would have cried buckets if I had to take out all that work. It was very nice of your hubby to help.

  6. I’ve not had that happen since I don’t long arm, but all I can say is arrgghh. How frustrating! I’d have been banging drawers and whatnot too. Glad you were able to rip it fairly quickly, but sorry the delay will cause you to miss the fair submission. It is a beautiful quilt, and your quilting will just enhance it!

  7. Kimberly Clark

    I had the very same happen to me! I have no idea why some suggest basting the whole thing first! I will never do it again! I had the worst time trying how to ‘fix it’ because I was way far down the road before I discover what was going on underneath!

  8. That is so frustrating and such a waste of precious time! I’ve done that before and had to remove the stitches for the same reason. The nice thing is that you know you won’t make that mistake again. 😉 It will be gorgeous for this year or next!

  9. Been there done that BUT my experience happened when I first bought my HQ 16 in 2005! I just knew that I KNEW what I was doing! WRONG. I quilted an entire quilt and did not pay attention to the attention on the back! Nothing but thread nests! AND I had done nothing but small circles. It too Clay and I 3 days to rip that puppy! But I became proficient in ripping with my rotary cutter. I can still do it and not rip the batting, or the top. BUT one has to be careful doing it. Sometimes If I have to rip out something, I will use the rotary cutter.

    Take a day or two and you will get back to it. Oh by the way, the 2005 quilt is still not quilted! Maybe I will load it on the HQ and just meander it! Would you believe the needle holes still show?

    Hugs and anxious to see you finished!

  10. Oh no, how frustrating that must have been! I only quilt on my DSM, but always wondered about the advice to stitch in the ditch all through the quilt first. That seems to me like it would create more problems than it would solve. I’m glad you got past all that, and can get going on it again.

  11. Felicia Hamlin

    My goodness! I never thought that this could happen to long arm quilters! I hope you had that battery operated ripper, I bought one because I made so many mistakes when I rip. It is a breeze to take the stitching out. Good luck, Carole. Have a nice Sunday.

  12. Patty

    Such a pretty quilt, so sorry you are having so much trouble. It is good to know that even the ones who do this all the time have problems now and then. Thank you for sharing your mistakes and what you do to fix them.

  13. Linda B

    Oh how frustrating Carole! So sorry you had to experience that and thanks for sharing with us all! I spray baste and quilt on my domestic, and so starting with in the ditch on the outer borders has worked really well with my projects, keeping the borders nice and straight and just no issues moving to the inside. So maybe that is where the advice came from…with basters, not from long armers where the layers are not all together? And agree with everyone…your DH went above & beyond for you! Ha!

  14. And your quilt just laid there and looked beautiful through it all.
    YOur hubbs is a good helper. I am so glad you bounced back to square one.
    Best of luck with your next try. Tricky surgery

  15. Oh no…..never did this but have had to rip a lot of stitches due to tension and thread breaks. So glad you are back on track for this pretty quilt. What sounded easier was only messier. Stick with your tried and true method. It takes a ton of co-ordination for ruler work. Once was enough for me to know that, so more power to you.

  16. Tresa

    I tried doing the same as you instead of floating my top. The backing ended up the same way. I sprayed the backing with starch and sat under frame and ironed it. I did this with each turn of the quilt. It shrunk the backing enough so I got no pleats.
    I won’t try quilting like that again.

  17. Patricia Evans

    This must be a difference between quilting on the longarm and on a domestic machine. I stitch in the ditch around the borders and (through the center when the design is appropriate) all the time. But I usually do smaller quilts, spray baste the layers and use a my Bernina 1031. You’ve learned a valuable lesson and passed your wisdom on to others. I know it will be beautiful when you get it finished. I’m still sewing my blocks together. It’s too hot in my studio right now, so I only get to sew when I go to sew days at one of the quilt group’s home with air conditioning.

  18. When I bought my second longarm I almost skipped the new owners training because I already knew how to quilt. But it was a new brand and I also wanted to get to know my dealer better. Of course I learned a LOT of things! The most important for me was that they convinced me to start basting my quilts. Before I always floated. She convinced me to baste one quilt just to try it out. It’s counterintuitive but it really saves a ton of time time. With basting I can quilt wherever I want and I never have pleats unless I baste wrong and I have done that once too! I even baste baby quilts now!

  19. Helen Tester

    Sorry for all the grief. Thanks for the “lesson learned” for I have thought of doing the same thing and now know that is not a good idea. I am sure your quilt will turn out fabulous and you will be thrilled with it.

  20. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    How frustrating! Yes, I can honestly say, the one time I tried “ditching” all the way around the quilt and then coming back to the beginning to custom quilt, I had the same problem, Not fun. While I don’t float my top, I do float my batting and I only SID as far as the Avante allows, do the custom quilting, and then advance, stabilize, and go again! I’m sorry you had this problem, but you have it ready to go and have a plan, so that is a positive! Have a good week, Carole!

  21. Peter and Carols Email

    You got the fabrics at a Blueprint sale…..what Is that? A shop or a fabric designer? Carol in Texas

  22. Oh, Carole. {{Hugs}} a bunch for you and DH as well. He’s a good egg! ~sigh~ We’ve all had disasters like this. Each and every one of us. I, however, would not be working on it again right now. I would have picked out all the missteps, folded up the quilt top, batting and backing and stuck it in a plastic box. Labeled it ready-to-be-quilted, put your quilting pattern idea on top and walked away. And I wouldn’t look back plus I’d put it out of my mind. I would need a timeout. So, I’m proud of you for carrying on and can’t wait to see the finished beauty. ~smile~ Roseanne

  23. farmquilter

    Ugh!!! Been there, done that!! I have found that if I am going to be using a ton of different threads on my top and will need to be able to move the quilt sandwich back and forth freely, I need to baste every 4″ or so across the quilt as I go down the quilt or I will have the same problem you had. I will put my stitch length for 4 stitches per inch and zip across the quilt, back and forth. I do change the stitch length when I get to the side (back to 12 spi) so my sides are properly stabilized. It is easy to baste any quilt this way, the stitches are easily removed as I need them to disappear. I only quilt my top border first. Depending on what design I want, I may do them as I roll the quilt down or I may wait and do the side borders last by taking the quilt off the frame and turning it…all depends on how easily I can make my stops and starts meld together. This is a painful lesson to learn, but you will only do it once, because it is horrible to pick out all that perfectly balanced stitching! I don’t float my tops either…they end up wonky for me!!

  24. Carole S.

    Yes, Carole, it has happened to me, too, and even when I basted, as others have suggested. Horrid experience, and I will never do it that way again. Your top is so sweet. Hard lesson to learn, but I know when you’re done, the quilt will be beautiful.

  25. dezertsuz

    I haven’t, but I never did stitch in the ditch around the edges or anywhere else. I didn’t float my tops, but rolled them on the top bar, with backing rolled on the bottom, and with batting hanging free. It helped me be able to get a good look at the bottom from time to time to do it that way, and things didn’t bunch up or sag.

    BUT, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have done exactly the same to me as it did to you, if I had tried that. I have taken machine quilting out, but it wasn’t mine. Someone sent me her disaster to remove the stitching and then quilt it. LOL I spent a lot of driving time one vacation with that lap quilt in my lap having stitches removed. It was so nice of your DH to help you. That’s something Paul would have done, too. Good men are hard to find. =)

  26. Frustrating to have to remove all those stitches but glad you caught the problem before you had even more stitching in! Good for your husband for pitching in to help!

  27. Mary-The Boondocks Blog

    I don’t know about disaster. I too have had my share of fails. But that only makes me more determined to correct any mistakes or missteps.

  28. Rebecca Burch

    We’ve ALL had disasters like this! I never have to plan a “God’s Eye” for my projects because so many seem to occur naturally. I know you’ll get this just exactly the way you want it… I have faith in you!

  29. I’m in the middle of such a crisis right now. Thankfully, it’s only a baby blanket, but I still had to take stitching out of 50% of the border, redistribute the backing fabric, re-pin the edges, and now it’s ready to start in all over again. I also had to remove one 10″ section of decorative stitching. I’ll have to practice to get the stitching just like the original, notwithstanding getting the pattern to match up where the stitching stops.

  30. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

    Oh, I’m so sorry this happened to you Carole! I am one of those that will often SID the quilt before I start quilting and I have never had that backing issue (knock on wood..). I think the difference is that I also SID around the blocks as I go down the top, and that keeps the backing in place. Thank you for sharing your story. I am going to learn from your disaster and never try ditching just the borders. I know what you mean about just start stitching and hoping inspiration will hit. I do that a LOT! 🙂

  31. Vicki in MN

    Oh gosh I am so sorry you had to rip, not fun at all. I only ditch what is in my working area and then fill that area with my other designs and then roll and repeat. Perhaps when you heard other LA’ers doing this they also had some ditching in the center of the quilt also, I think that would have prevented the problem.

  32. I shudder when I hear machine quilters tell of needing to rip out stitching- how very upsetting! But you’ve righted the sinking ship and hopefully all will be well now. It’s a pretty quilt, and lesson learned!

  33. Mary Crawford

    One of the first quilts completed was for my daughter going to college. It was a flannel and I bought a woodsy flannel sheet for the backing. I do not remember if it was pre-washed or not (think so) but the long-armer had much of it done before she noticed the mess on the back. So she and also her hubby as well picked it all out and tried again. At the time, I didn’t realize what a pain that would have been to do. Over the years, I tried to eliminate batting in a couch quilt. Unfortunately, I kept going too long…it still needs to be picked out. Someday….so disappointing when that happens.

  34. Melanie

    Thank you for the lesson. I’m not a longarm quilter, but appreciate your sharing your wins and “oopses.” LOL If the quilt doesn’t make this year’s fair deadline, it will surely be a winner next year. Your DH was so nice to help with the ripping. Good luck and best wishes!

  35. davemelvanolan

    Oh No! How disappointing. Thanks for sharing your experience with others so that they can avoid that pitfall.

  36. I sooooo sympathize with you. I am picking stitches out a quilt right now…only I didn’t notice my backing was pleating until I did SID around the perimeter, the blocks and had started a double feathered wreath in each of the 25 blocks…..I didn’t see any problem until the 4th wreath was quilted. I am still picking out stitches as I have not had a single free, full day to work on it. The quilt is a wedding gift for a favorite nephew so I can’t just “give up” on it—which is what I’d like to do! I usually float my tops but tried “doing it by the book” as I had read how other longarm quilters load and quilt their tops. Live and learn I suppose. So glad you’re nearly finished with your ordeal. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I persevere! PS—I love the backing for your Minuet—it’s perfect! Blessings…..

  37. Can you do a segment someday on floating a quilt? I have seen quilts over the bars like this but always wondered if the quilter actually quilted them like that or if it was just showing the beauty of the quilt about to be quilted.
    So this is an actual way to quilt a quilt without having to roll it on the bars? Super if it is! Looking forward to hearing where I can learn to do this.

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