Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Seam Ripper Blues

I was making so much progress with quilting the border for the quilt extension I've been working on for the last couple of weeks. I had the walking foot attached to my treadle machine and was pedaling along and falling in LOVE with quilting with a walking foot. The weather was cool, and there was a pleasant breeze coming in my window. I could hear the birds singing. It was treadle heaven.

And then. The one fabric that a little voice in my head had been whispering against since I started the project suddenly started to split along a seam, and once it started, there was no stopping it. I was so rattled, I didn't even think to take a picture. I looked it over and saw that the split was caused by raveling along the seam. I carefully removed the piece of fabric, and cut another one, pinking the edge and leaving a larger seam allowance, then stitched everything back together again (a more complicated process than you might want to know). The little voice was talking a little louder now, but I ignored it and told myself that everything would be okay because the quilting would reinforce the seams and hold all the edges inside reducing the probability of more raveling. I had invested too much time into the quilt border to stop and take it all apart. I kept quilting, and everything went smoothly. It was all lying nice and flat without any puckers on the front or back. 

Here's a bit of what it looked like:

Well, you know where this is going. As I was burying some threads, I stuck a pin near a seam, and the fabric started to split along it. And you know that little voice was no longer little, but screaming I TOLD YOU SO. And, of course I had to listen. This quilt needs to be fixed because it needs to be usable and durable and cleanable. After all, it's going to be on a bed. 

So I spent most of this afternoon and evening singing the blues and working with my seam ripper, which has suddenly become my favorite sewing--ahem, unsewing--tool. I'm almost done removing 40 lines of quilting. Next, I'll take out the 20 seams where the shiny fabric joins the surrounding pieces. And then I'll have to try to find something to replace it. It's too bad, because that shiny fabric added the right amount of glitz to the design, and I know it was important to my niece, as it complements the copper accents in her bedroom. But it is just not meant to be. 

I used to quilt and repair old quilt tops as a professional hand quilter, so I have a lot of experience with splitting fabric. But those were very old fabrics, and even though I was skeptical about using a polyester fabric in this quilt, I really didn't think it would be so fragile. And I thought cutting it with pinking shears would eliminate raveling. But then, there was that little voice, so I should have known better. Anyway, I've learned a valuable lesson: a quilt is only as strong as its weakest fabric. I guess I knew that already, but there's nothing like an object lesson. 

Taking this quilt apart will take some time, but the backing fabric is a beautifully strong organic cotton, and I'm sure that it will help keep everything in line when I replace those 10 fabric strips. I know the extra effort will be worth it in the end. 

No garden pictures today. It's raining now.  (Perfect seam ripping weather.)

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation for their weekly linky parties. Buttons are on the right. 

I hope your quilty week is going well. And to our friends to the north, Happy Canada Day!


  1. So sorry to hear of your distress with the ravelly fabric. You're absolutely right about the quilt being only as sturdy as the weakest fabric. Good luck with your seam ripping and mending.

  2. Thanks for this advice post. Sorry you had to experience it.

  3. Oh, sadness! All that ripping! I guess the only consolation is that it would have been much worse had it happened after the quilt went back to your niece. Good luck with it!

  4. Oh I'm sorry! How frustrating and an exercise in patience I'm sure you didn't need! I'm sure the end result will be worth it all. Hope the niece appreciates her aunt very much!!

  5. I hope you find something good to replace that pesky shiny fabric and it makes your quilt even better than before!

  6. What a pain! So sorry you have become such good friends with your seam ripper. I hope you find a satisfactory replacement fabric without too much trouble.