Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Lesson in Wasted Time

It might have been last summer--or even the previous year--that on a whim, I signed up for a class on offer at the local quilt fabric store.
The Quilter's Trunk in the nearby South Fork community is an inspiring shop--a good variety of fine quilting fabrics, notions, tools, an in-house sewing machine service and repair.  A changing exhibit of quilts large and small is intended to inspire customers.
Classes are offered, featuring new patterns or techniques

I forget the nature of my errand that particular day. As usual I took time to enjoy the projects on display.  The pieced butterflies caught my attention and I noted that a class was being offered.
Before I could find excuses not to, I had paid the fee, reserved a place, and been handed a list of the materials that would be needed.
It seemed that it would be good to challenge myself, to try something different.

Almost immediately I realized that I faced obstacles.
The pattern wouldn't be available until the morning of the class.
Speaking of 'morning'--the class was scheduled for 9 a.m.--Eastern Time, that is--and we live a few miles into the Central Time zone, making the start time 8 a.m. for me.

Have I mentioned that I am not a morning person?
I am downstairs between 6 and 7 each morning--earlier in summer, a bit later in winter.
I shower, dress, tend the cats. I am not, however, in what could be called my 'right mind!'
I spend the first half of the day doing practical, none demanding chores--house-cleaning, laundry; as the day progresses I'll tackle baking, errands.
Evenings--when I've caught my second wind--are when I feel creative, ready to sew or write, plan new projects, research an interest.

When I'm inspired to begin a quilt or crafting pattern that I've not previously made, I ponder the directions, reading through a few times, making sure that I understand the details before I get started.

The class didn't go well for me, although the instructor is one whose skills I admire.
The pattern booklet was passed out as we were setting up our sewing machines at the long work tables.  The instructor then announced that we wouldn't actually be cutting our fabrics per the instructions as she had devised a method that saved a bit of material.
I had brought with me the fabrics needed in the lengths designated on the sign-up sheet.
I wasn't interested in having a few scraps left over--or in attempting a variation on the instructions, at least not until I had made the project once according to the directions booklet.

I had been experimenting with some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine the night before the class and belatedly realized I hadn't readjusted and tested the tension settings.  So, from the first I was in 'catch up' mode. 
Through out the class I felt that I was struggling to focus, to be alert, to work efficiently. 
Most of the ladies were chatty, bright-eyed, zooming along, and had their butterfly nearly done when the class ended.  There were a few who had worked more slowly. 
I had completed my stitching, but when I did the final pressing I found that the circular piece wouldn't lie flat.
I came home feeling tired and disgruntled, and with the definite sense that a group class--especially a morning class--is not an option for me.
I put away the unfinished butterfly with the vague idea that 'sometime' I might have a look and see what had gone amiss.

Jim left today after breakfast on a mission to pick up a piece of equipment he found last week.
The day was dark with the threat of rain and I opted to stay home.
I noticed the butterfly project when I was looking for something else recently and vowed that today I would finish it.  
The problem didn't seem to be in the measuring and cutting--the pieces matched the heavy plastic template that was part of the kit.
It must be that I needed to adjust the width of the seams to make the thing lie flat.
I was still fussing and fiddling when Jim returned.
When I had done all that could be done short of starting over I wasn't pleased with my work.  I considered putting the whole thing in the fire!

Doggedly I prepared the butterfly body and pinned it in the center--which still wasn't quite flat.
I had stitched around the brown body by hand when I realized I had positioned it the wrong way.
I picked the stitches, repinned, decided to use a machine applique technique--not one of my strong skills, but there it is.  The butterfly is DONE-- other than needing its antennae.

I'm not pleased with my workmanship--and I still don't know what caused the problems.
I could try it again with different fabric--working carefully at my own pace.
I find I'm not really interested in doing that!
This isn't a piece that I want to display.
I may stitch the butterfly onto a cushion cover--at least it would be useful.
I could call it a 'humility pillow'--a reminder that perhaps some projects are best jettisoned instead of wasting hours on an unsatisfactory finish.


  1. Well you figured out what works for you and what doesn' accomplishment in itself. I have enjoyed my visit here today and have become your newest follower!

    1. Carrie; Hello! Glad you enjoyed the visit. I went to your blog and admired your cheerful kitchen--you and my daughter have similar taste in vintage red collectibles. I know winters in your part of the country can be grey and gloomy--how nice to have such a snug bright space as the heart of your 'cottage.'

  2. I think it turned out very nice, but I do know that feeling of frustration when something doesn't turn out the way it is supposed to. I tried a quilting class once, and ended up with two small panels when everyone else had a whole quilt made! At least you know your own daily rhythm and can remember that next time you are tempted to sign up for a class again. I think this would make a lovely cushion, especially for fall. x K

    1. Karen; It is good to realize that we don't all work well in the same time frame or setting. During the years I worked at Wyoming Quilts I usually went in after lunch and stayed til the shop closed at 6. If there were deadlines I could take my designated projects home and finish in the evening.

  3. We are so hard on ourselves when it comes to crafts Sharon. I looked at your butterfly and thought, oh that is GORGEOUS and so beautifully pieced!! Meanwhile you look at it and see "mistakes" as glaring. I think it is really lovely, but what a shame it couldn't have been an afternoon tutorial and equally that the tutor couldn't stick to the instructions! At least it is finished (apart from making into a cushion if you can ever face revisiting it).

    1. Jennie; I have no sympathy for myself when I do a project poorly--especially if I can't identify the problem and make a correction.
      I suppose having gotten the butterfly to this stage I must discipline myself to 'revisit,' give the creature some antennae and a cushion to 'light' upon.

  4. From the photos, I can't see that it isn't laying flat. I think it is a lovely piece and the colors are really nice.

    I had to laugh though at you statement - I could call it a 'humility pillow'--a reminder that perhaps some projects are best jettisoned instead of wasting hours on an unsatisfactory finish.

    Have a great Friday and weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainy; The not so flat part is pretty much hidden by the body of the butterfly. I ended up running a basting stitch around to ease in most of the excess fullness.
      I've read of Amish quilt makers deliberately creating a mismatched blog to indicate a lack of worldly pride--strangely, non of the Amish quilters to whom I've mentioned this have heard of the practice.
      I think I'll have to tackle something I can do well--to restore my confidence!

  5. I feel your pain. And I was thinking that this is also true of writing. Sometimes we edit and edit but the piece just wasn't worth the effort to begin with.

    I enjoy following you. I am also a lover of vintage kitchen things, especially red and green.

  6. Sue; This is very true of writing. Sometime words flow easily and it is exhilarating to feel that what we intended to convey is lively and lucid. Other times what seemed an urgent idea becomes heavy and clumsy no matter how we try to rework it.
    I'm reminded of an unfinished essay from more than 20 years ago--an attempt to capture a few hours of a springtime evening. Every now and then I think I should have another try at finishing it, honing it to fit remembrance, but, will I ever?

  7. 10 out of 10 for tenacity, I think I would have thrown it on the fire. lol

    1. Briony; It was a close call! I don't like to be defeated by a project--though a few have gone by the wayside over the decades.

  8. Sometimes we're our own worst critics. I like your butterfly.
    I'm not a morning person either, never have been. I move, think and talk slowly in the morning.
    Your should make it again to see if there really was a problem.

    1. Janet; It is comforting to have the affirmation that not all of us bounce from bed ready to tackle the day. Its who we are!
      I would have to have a dearth of other projects in order to start another butterfly--or so I think--I haven't given away the pattern. Having it get the best of me twice would be a real downer.