Wrangling with the Emotions of Quilting

I love meeting people who know themselves so well and can easily articulate their personality. I’m not one of those people. I have weird mood swings that most times I don’t even know what prompted them. The process of quilting can illicit a broad range of moods. Sometimes not good ones. But what I have determined is the process of quilting also helps me deal with a lot of those weird mood swings. Hobbies are good like that.


My goal for this fall was to get my too long list of WIPs into finished pieces. The nest was empty again and I was ready to spread out and machine quilt one of those WIPs. We met some friends for coffee on Labor Day weekend and they talked about a fundraiser they were involved in. It’s a sort of Dancing With the Stars local version. It’s called Shall We Dance and benefits the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of the Fox Cities. That’s our friend Dennis on the far left of the first splash screen on the SACC website. He’s such a great sport!!! Anyway, the actual event is more geared toward corporate sponsorship and is a little cost prohibitive for the average Joe like most of Dennis’ friends. So Dennis and his wife Melissa put together an additional fundraiser event so all their friends can see Dennis dance with his partner. At coffee they talked about how organizing this event has become more taxing than planning a wedding. In an effort to Be The Good I offered to donate a quilt to be used as part of a raffle or basket. Well, that meant finishing one of those WIPs in THREE WEEKS! Now that may sound like a reasonable amount of time for most of you but machine quilting really does take an awful long time especially when you work another full time job.

My “Pantone Pocket Change” started out as a jelly roll of rainbow colors in a beautiful ombre. I wish I could tell you the manufacturer but yes, it was really that long ago. I finished the quilt top last June and then, well, you know, things have to ruminate awhile in the drawer/box while my attention deficit kicks in and I want to start a different project. Once everything was pinned and my hips were sufficiently feeling the effect of crawling around on the floor, it was time to quilt.


I knew I had wanted to do some sort of straight line quilting on it. I’ve done a spiral on a table runner and it didn’t turn out too bad. Of course, it was about 1/8th the size of this quilt but, heck, what could go wrong? The quilt really begged for a spiral because I think it would help draw the eye from the center outward as the colors changed in the quilt itself.

Because it’s so difficult to start with a pretty small circle using the walking foot, I started at the very center of the quilt using free motion quilting. I had traced the bottom of an Aurifil spool of thread with a Frixion pen that “disappears” with heat. (Disappears enough that you can’t see it; unless it gets like below -40.) Once I got to a point where I could use the walking foot, I switched over to that.


My spiral is about 1/4″ apart because I used the edge of the walking foot as a guide. Around and round I went shoving this full 78″x69″ through the harp of my Juki, draping it over my shoulder, resting it on the bed/table in front of the machine, etc., etc. Things seemed to be going so well, and then I started noticing the top was starting to twist. The gray sashing was no longer completely vertical and the backing was starting to bunch up causing major wrinkles that I was actually stitching over. I didn’t know what to do. And all my rudimentary geometry skills kicked in to make me worry even more about where this piece was going. Was it going to be “square” anymore? Was the vertical sashing going to be all wonky? And what about that weird volcano like thing that was erupting from the center? I took all the basting pins out and laid her out on the kitchen floor. I had to sleep on it to figure out my plan of attack. At this point, I was ready to cut the cord and just donate some money to the cause.


The next day, however, there she was in the morning sun, all beautiful and glowing like a high maintenance girlfriend after she’s put her makeup on. I felt bad about all the nasty things I had said about her the night before and I was committed to the relationship, I mean, the completion of this quilt. I didn’t really have a plan other than the unpinning and just keep smoothing out the backing as I went to avoid the wrinkles.  My hope was the quilt would continue to “twist” at an equal percentage and in the end, the quilt would just not be square. At which point I was ready to cut it into a circle and call it a new trend. I forged ahead but knew this relationship was doomed to some degree. There was such angst each night after work as I quilted round and round and round and round.

Yesterday, I finished. It took me about 3 minutes to decide on a binding color. When I trimmed her, I could tell it wasn’t going to be good. She wasn’t square. Her vertical sashing was wonky and when stretched to be straight the horizontal piecing became wonky. The volcano in the center had expanded and was nearing eruption. It was over. I was breaking it off with her. I had had enough. After the binding was done, I popped her in the washing machine hoping I could love her again after her quilty crinkly gorgeousness presented itself. Into the dryer and I took a long walk with Mr. LB – had to clear my mind. The last few blocks of our walk I was anxious, hoping her problems had been minimized by the heat of the dryer.

I wasn’t disappointed.


In her embarrassment, she shrunk significantly. Now a humbled lap quilt, she measures 72″x64″ – 5″ in one direction, 6″ in the other. She’s still a little lumpy in the middle but the bars are straight, the sashing is straight and she’s reasonably square. But, oh, those colors!




In the end, I love her still.

But you know what they say . . . . if you love someone (thing), set it free . . . . etc. etc.  I’m glad to be offering this quilt for donation to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center. If you are so inclined, even after hearing her story, attend the Ballroom Blitz (go here for tickets) and go bid on her. Or go to the website and vote/donate for our friend Dennis.  He and Mel are the GOOD!!

Random Thought

When my kids were little, there was always a need for rubber bands at our house but we never went out and bought any. It seemed like a frivolous purchase. There was always something from the grocery store that came with a rubber band – broccoli or such – or from school – or you could use a twisty tie. A few weeks ago, I was browsing around Walmart in the office supplies section. There was a pretty enormous package of rubber bands for 97 cents. I bought it. I mean 97 cents! So, kids, we now have rubber bands in the house and no longer have to tie them together when they break because there’s an abundunt supply.


Life is good! It just is!

Be The Good so that we all can BElieve THEre is GOOD in the world!



One response to “Wrangling with the Emotions of Quilting

  1. First of all, holy moly is that a beautiful quilt!! I can not believe you were able to quilt all those circles on it. Amazing! The final result is just beautiful and I’m glad you pushed through the problems.


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