Today I’m talking about my Marcelle Medallion quilt that I just finally pulled from the dryer. I’m also talking about the many different stages a quilter goes through as she makes a quilt. You know the one’s: I love this quilt and I hate this quilt, sometimes I don’t want to finish this quilt and all the rest of them. SO many stages! They are all part of the process. And sometimes, at the end we really just don’t like the quilt we made.
I started this quilt last April or May (can’t remember exactly), but it was a part of the Marcelle Medallion quilt along. See the #marcellemedallionqal here. This was hosted by my dear friend Nicole, and I doubt I’d have attempted this quilt without her encouragement. The reason for that is just this quilt is hard. This was not a therapeutic quilt to make or at least for me it wasn’t. It was a chore. However, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment at completing something so difficult.
You can buy the pattern for this quilt here.
You may be thinking that since I make sampler quilts all the time that I am accustomed to this level of difficulty. This is not the same kind of animal. This quilt is full of tiny pieces of patchwork. VERY TINY. It’s also full of unusual sizes of patchwork. For example, those flying geese are not a standard size like 2×4″ or 3×6″, no they are something more like 1.something inches by another odd number.
The pattern itself is stunning. You can see much prettier versions of this quilt here. I do love the quilt itself, I just don’t love mine too much…….
My Quilt Patterns
Let me explain how this thinking started. I decided before I began that I would use absolutely nothing, but Heather Ross fabrics. That was my first mistake. Heather Ross fabrics that I’ve hoarded, seeked out, and LOVED for years are mostly left untouched inside their own special basket within my stash. There’s a lot of them, and I was thinking they deserved to be in a very difficult and beautiful quilt.
It turns out that they need something to ground them. They are all so busy, beautiful, but busy. I should have added tonals and solids into the mix. So naturally, my quilt is going to be busy. Most of my quilts happen to be busy and I am a fan of that, but this was even too much for me.
But back to the quilt… I started off great. I was happy with my fabric picks, happy with all the fussy cutting I was getting to do. When I put that border on the first round with the bicycles I was on cloud nine. The kind of feeling when you have done something that has made yourself so happy with fabric placement, you know the kind. The kind of that makes you jump up and down and giggle. That’s how I felt about that bicycle border.
I wasn’t too crazy with my yellow triangles, wrong color I think, not dark enough. But the mermaid border! Oh my, this was another jumping up and down with glee moment. This is also the last of my happy moments with this quilt, at least until I got it back from the longarmer.
Custom Quilt Labels
Once I used the purple on the quilt, I no longer was a fan. I should have changed the colors then, but it was so many of them and I’d used precious fabric, so my decision was to power through. I don’t regret this move, but it did change my feelings for the quilt.
In case you are new to quilting or unfamiliar with special fabrics, let me explain: I used a variety of Heather Ross and if you don’t know, her fabric is highly collectible. You will pay ridiculous prices for some of her older rare prints and this quilt is full of them. Before you think me frivolous for spending so much on fabric, I didn’t actually pay the high prices. I have bartered for years with other fabrics to build the collection I now have of HR prints. My collection is quite extensive and I rarely use them. To waste them simply because I don’t like a color is a no-no in my book.
It was getting busier with each additional border and my fabric choices were all the reasons why. I could have started adding in different designers, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. It was like I was on a one lane road to Busyland. I continued on.
The big green border was a change I made. I originally had a low volume fabric in its place that was just not working. You may notice that there are two different fabrics used for the green border and that’s because I didn’t have enough of one. Problems were just building up. It was about this time that I just said, “*******”, well you know what I said. My mouth is rarely full of potty, but these are strenuous times.
The quilt then sat untouched for more than a month. I was mad at it. I was mad at myself. I was mad at anyone who told me, “what was not working”, and wanted to send them to this page. If I want to dislike a quilt I made, I’ll dislike the quilt and that is perfectly okay.
It needed finishing. I had another border to go and there was no way I was going to let my precious fabrics go to waste. I sucked it up and added the plusses border. I did like the quilt much more after that, even if I did turn two of my cornerstones the wrong way. Seriously, this quilt was out to get me.
I was ready by then to be done with the whole business. This fact leant me to just add a solid to the back with a few bits of some of the mermaids in my hoard instead of piecing a backing with all my small cuts.
I sent the quilt to Linda at Blue Barn Quilt Company to be professionally longarmed. I’ve never had a quilt longarm quilted, but I was excited about this. It was fun to look through all the patterns that Blue Barn Quilt Company has to offer. I must have stared at my computer trying to decide for over an hour. I chose this pattern called Clementine. I could not be more pleased with the work done on the quilt. Linda really did a beautiful job. Everything was so much nicer and neater than I could have done myself. Plus, you know how I was ready to get this quilt out of my sight.
So how do I feel about this quilt now? I’m glad that I made the Marcelle Medallion. It feels like an accomplishment of sorts. I learned more about fabrics with this one and I really stretched myself. I do love the quilt, truly. But I love all quilts, even ugly ones. I like the craftsmanship put into quilts. It’s really not about my colors, fabrics, or placement that makes me love a quilt. It’s a job well done, a journey, the touch of the crinkly, cuddly texture, it’s all the hours spent pouring over every detail. I love that I stuck with it and finished it. I LOVE the quilting that was done on it. I love petting the fussy cuts of fabric, the tiny mice, the bikes, the mermaids.
I love the quilt, I’m glad I made it, but I still don’t like it. That’s enough.
- Buy the Marcelle Medallion quilt pattern
- Buy Heather Ross fabrics
- Get a quilt longarm quilted by Blue Barn Quilt Co.
- Buy this quilt
Dori Johns says
Well, you’re right… the quilt is very busy. But I think I would love to snuggle up on a chair with this quilt over me and just explore all of the darling little pieces of fabric. How exciting to discover a bicycle or a mermaid and by that time I would be so determined to see what else I could find in all of those fabric bits and pieces. To me, that is part of the magic of a quilt. If I walked into a room and saw your quilt draped over a chair I would be drawn to it. I absolutely love low volume and that is all because of you and your beautiful quilts. Each one has its own personality and this one, I think, is saying please love me, I’ll keep you company on a cool crisp autumn day! *wink* So you might only be in ‘like’ today but I bet one day it will become ‘love’. Thanks for sharing this post.
Thank you, dori.
What a fabulous essay about the process and emotions that many of us go through at one time or the other! First, I mostly love your finished quilt and your fabric choices. I am “over” plus signs in quilts but that’s just me and you were following a particular pattern. I enjoy scrappy quilts, low volume, quirky fabrics and blurred lines rather than hard edges and your quilt has some of everything I love.
But your essay is about the evolving process we often go through creating a quilt and this resonated with me. A friend and I even refer to it as the “hating the quilt phase” that we seem to go through on most quilts. It usually passes and we end up with something we love, but not always. I’ve made quilts that I am happy to give away because in the end they didn’t sing to me the way I thought they would. Just yesterday I reached a point with some blocks that I considered abandoning and donating to a charity group. But I pushed through and today woke up to an almost completed quilt top that I love. Go figure. ?
The reason I started my (apparently long winded) comment though is to encourage you to let this quilt age and mellow a bit. I’ve been surprised to find that I like a quilt a LOT more after the pain of making it has faded. It is kind of like childbirth; it is a rare woman who in the throes of labor or shortly thereafter proclaim this to be the most fun ever and they can’t wait to do it again! I often “quit” quilting too when I am struggling through a quilt that has become a chore but a few days later will find me starting my next one. ?
I’m so glad I’m not alone. I love your words. ?
Michele Bender says
I respect your courage and honesty in talking about an experience I think we all have faced – our vision was not realized in a quilt. I sure have faced it, and I have the stack of UFO quilt tops to prove it. So many times on blogs and social media we see sterling examples of quilts we admire and immediately measure ourselves and find ourselves lacking. So that’s one problem that is an unintended consequence of various posters trying to present their work professionally and in its most flattering light. But then as you describe, there is the disappointment of feeling you have not lived up to a dream or vision of the work. Especially with beloved fabrics. It’s so painful! I feel the same way about Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics. A huge hoard at my house. That I can hardly cut into. I do feel though, that as we stumble and stagger our way towards artfulness in our sewing that each piece informs our future work. I think about my UFOs and what went wrong. I have to accept my learning process with the quilting as something to embrace. I know my work is evolving. The negative thoughts and feelings to our finishes is probably essential. If only because we put so much feeling into this hobby – it’s much more than a hobby, right? So the disappointment can be fuel for our next challenge. I hope.
Perfectly said. Thank you. ?
I don’t agree, I think it is wonderful. I love it. I know we all sometimes struggle with a quilt that in the end is not a favorite. Most of the time when I make a quilt I love it until it is done. Once done, the love affair is over for me. I don’t think in the case of this one I would ever feel that way. Great job and yes it is busy, but so much fun and so pretty.
Thank you, Donnalee. I agree with you too about when you’re done, you’re done. I feel that way a lot about my quilts. The making is over and I’m over that quilt. Thanks for reading!
I happen to really like the busyness of the quilt, it appeals to me. In fact, I liked yours more than most of the ones I saw on the pinterest page you linked. I’ve learned over the 25 years I’ve been quilting that “down the road” you’ll view this quilt quite differently than you do now. I think the fabric and colour choices you made are just a part of your quilting evolution and to my eye they look great, I suspect you might have felt the same way about any project you ended up using those cherished fabrics in. That’s been my experience anyway when I’ve decided to take the plunge and use favourite precious fabrics. Karen
Thank you, Karen, for your thoughts. You may be right! Hugs, sweet friend.