Yuma Quilt-along

Image courtesy of Gotham Quilts.

Image courtesy of Gotham Quilts.

I’m supposed to be sharing with you all today my finished quilt top for the Yuma Quilt-along being run by Gotham Quilts, but I couldn’t finish it. The pattern is great and it’s a pattern that is really spectacular when done right, but I just could not for the life of me get this quilt to work. I’ve lost my sewjo.

It happens. I wish it didn’t, but when life gets a little crazy and I feel out of control the thing that tends to suffer is my ability to see the potential in my fabric stash. I’ve been feeling a bit “off” for a few weeks now but I’ve been pushing through trying to sew my way to inspiration. It’s not been working and it’s just making me feel worse.

This winter has been particularly harsh for our family. Our son has been on and off sick since April and it’s meant that I’ve had to take more time off work then I’d like and it’s also impacted on how much I’ve been able to juggle my other commitments. He’s currently laying on the couch trying to recover from his latest bout of illness. On top of it all I’ve been sick, travelling and working the day job as well which hasn’t helped.

I’ve been pushing myself to the limit and not looking after myself and my sewjo has paid the price. 

Sometimes when I’m under a lot of pressure I hit gold, but there’s other times when I just can’t catch a break and unfortunately my version of the Yuma quilt paid the price.

I started with the fabulous range, Birds & The Bees by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller, and thought I’d use it as the main feature in the quilt. I wanted to use solids I had in my collection and so I pulled some Kona and tried to find a match. For some reason I had it in my head that this would be the perfect time to use colours that I normally wouldn’t gravitate towards. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.

This has potential...

This has potential…

It didn’t work.

While the colours I picked in the solids were all found in the print fabric together they just didn’t work. The magic of the pattern is in the crisp delineation of the triangles. It’s all in the angles. But my fabric selections just made the pattern way too busy.

I cut the pieces, put them on the design wall and then spent the next 3 days avoiding looking at it. Every time I stood in front of it I felt sick. It hadn’t worked, I didn’t want to spend any more time working on it and I had the clock ticking down to when I’d have to write about it.

This lost the potential in an overload of colour and print.

This lost the potential in an overload of colour and print.

It was stressing me out. Big time.

I hate disappointing someone. I hate wasting fabric. But more than anything I hate losing time with my family on something that doesn’t make me hum with excitement.

I was standing there in front of the pieces of this quilt and it struck me. Life is too short to make things that make you unhappy. I would rather not deliver on something then take the time away from my family to make something that’s sub par. Life’s too short for bad quilts!

I felt such a weight lift when I made the decision not to force it. I decided instead to look at the lessons this taught me and move on.

This quilt top suffered from me not being able to wrap my head around where the piecing sits in the construction. The quilt pattern is great, and it’s free which given how much time is spent on designing, making and writing up the pattern is a real gift. But I printed mine in black and white – big mistake!

The quilt diagrams are done using the example quilt fabrics and they tend to blend into each other when printed black and white and can make it difficult to work out what goes where. I spent a lot of time trying to go back between a photo of the quilt on my iPhone and what I was trying to do. It didn’t work for me and I know I would have made different fabric placement choices if I could have gotten it straight in my head.

I’ve become a big fan of quilt patterns that include a line diagram so that you can colour it in and work out the placement prior to fabric selection and cutting. It’s a massive luxury because patterns are so labour intensive, but for me it really helps and so I appreciate them when I get them.

I’ve also learned that when I’m not feeling it, that’s not the time to “try something new”. You really need to be in the right head space to experiment and I wasn’t.

I love the really clever use of repetition in this pattern and when I worked it out I actually went “Ooooohhh” out loud in my sewing room like an excited math nerd.  It’s clever and with the right fabrics you could have some real fun with it. It shows a subtle sophistication to the pattern that I really like.

While I might not have been able to make my first attempt (oh yes, I will attempt it again when my sewjo comes back to me!) might not have worked, there’s been some amazeballs versions of this quilt made already. (Check out the hashtag on Instagram!!!)

My favourite has to be this version by Chris on Made by ChrissieD – she made it in all solids!!! Be still my beating heart! Not only is it fabulous, but the smart ladies at Gotham Quilts are now offering it as a kit! (Click here to get the details.)

Image courtesy of Gotham Quilts.

Image courtesy of Gotham Quilts.

If you’d like to see some amazing quilts that have been made by people who’ve clearly not misplaced their sewjo then check out the bloggers listed below, you won’t be disappointed! You’ll find links to the free pattern, tips and tricks for making it and some awesome inspiration to get you working on your own version in no time.

Yuma QAL Schedule

Each week another blogger will be sharing their #YumaQAL experiences with you, check out each blog involved for more chances to win additional Gotham Quilt gift certificates.
17 June – kick off blog post on Gotham Quilts
Week of 22 June – made by ChrissieD click here to find all my Yuma QAL posts
Week of 29 June – Faith and Fabric
Week of 6 July – Daydreams of Quilts
Week of 13 July – Lisa in Port Hope
Week of 20 July – Sunflower Quilting
Week of 27 July – Roar Haus
Week of 2 August – Gnome Angel
10 August – Life Under Quilts
12 August – closing blog post on Gotham Quilts and start of linky party
19 August – linky party winner(s) chosen
Don’t forget to share your Yuma Quilts using the #yumaQAL hashtag and then join in the QAL final linky party on the Gotham Quilts’ Fabric Nerd blog.  You can add finished quilt tops or quilts – winners will be chosen at random and prizes include a $100 Gotham Quilts gift certificate and a  bundle of Alison Glass Handcrafted courtesy of Andover Fabrics.

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  1. I really like your fabric combination. I hate every thing I’m making during the process, but once quilted and, they become my new favorite. I’m covered with my last “disaster”, now and I love it!
    but we all have bad sewing days.

  2. Refreshing post Angie. It’s hard to admit that your sewjo is lacking, but liberating to admit and just move on. Powering through isn’t worth losing time with your family. As a working momma I enjoy my sewing time. However, time with my family is way more precious. A 2 year old isn’t very helpful either so I can’t combine.

  3. You have really done your followers a favor by posting this. As someone much older than you, I can tell you that life is too short to spend time on a project that isn’t working for you. I am in the process of clearing out 35+ years of fabric, patterns, and WIPs. I am finding absolute joy in donating anything that I don’t “love” any more to the making of charity quilts. There are people who meet every month to make charity quilts who can’t afford to buy fabric or supplies but are willing to donate their time. I have more supplies than I can use in a lifetime. Match made in heaven! With young children, don’t stress over a little wasted fabric. End of Grandma rant…

  4. Thanks for your refreshing post! I have had plenty of UFO’s that went the wrong way, and I agree – moving on is a good thing. But you might try putting it away for awhile, and them having some fun with it – cut it up, dye it, color it. I usually try fabric markers to change the problem fabrics first – lots of little dot or swirls. And I once dyed a whole quilt top purple to see if that would give me different shades of color. It turned out too monocromatic for my taste, but it was definitely an improvement. If I had your quilt, I would quilt it densely with black thread, using closely spaced lines in all the solid sections. Some of these last resort experiments are fun, and I figure – what do I have to lose?

  5. Firstly let me say how thrilled I am that you fave my solid Yuma, such a comment from Mrs Gnome Angel has me coming over all fangirl and blushing rather! You know the Yuma gave me one heck of a week making it, that’s what led to me writing five blog posts
    to try to help others. I was tearing my hair out while others were posting Yumas on IG that they’d started and finished overnight and all their points looked perfect. Knowing I had to get the quilt well underway for my Quilt Along blog post had me start questionning my quilting abilities, row by row it was a devil of a quilt. As I tried every method I could think of to perfect those points I knew I had to tell everyone what had and hadn’t worked for me just in case it helped them, surely I couldn’t be the only person having difficulties?! So I wrote the blog posts and the response has been great, turns out I’m not the only person who has trouble joining triangle rows and keeping the points and, yes, those log cabin blocks do need cutting down from the quoted size – I’m just a normal quilter after all, such a relief!!! Thank you for being so honest about your experience, we need a lot more of that in quilting blog land, you’ve taken the pressure off others as well as yourself and for that I applaud you. You’ve not misplaced your sewjo, you’ve empowered it and yourself, go you – big hugs Chris 😀

    • It’s beautiful and the use of the background for the large set of triangles provides extra dimension. I adore it. I think it’s great that you managed to turn your struggles into a way to help others – that’s one of the things I love about the internet – we can all help each other out. Thanks so much Chris! Can’t wait to see what you produce next 🙂

    • Chrissie – you’re tip on sewing just the intersections first and then checking has saved my sanity on this quilt. It takes significantly longer but it has made me slow down, double check everything and make those points work the best I can with some of that missing info, like cutting down the log cabins, etc. I appreciated your 5 posts so much as it was basically my instruction booklet on how to work with triangles and this quilt in particular. I felt much better about my abilities (self taught sewer with not tons of quilting experience) knowing that others with more experience struggled or had something that just didn’t work at all!

      • In return I appreciate being told my posts have been useful; as a blogger it’s really encouraging to know what we write for our blogs is actually useful to others – thank you too – Chris 😀

  6. Its so refreshing to read a real-life post Angie! We all have flops that we would rather not share, but there’s no shame it admitting it didn’t work and moving on! Maybe I should share my current oopsie, lol!

  7. HI Angie! I feel your lost sewjo, it happens to me, too. I have 2 suggestions that have worked for me! The first is don’t feel guilty about wasting fabric — when you’re learning, nothing is wasted, and we’re always learning! Your Yuma layout looks like lots of pieces, but not so many that you couldn’t toss it — seriously, you only have to do this once or twice for it to have a lifetime effect in freedom-from-I-don’t-ever-want-to-finish-this-guilt! or you could give it to a charity quilt group to finish. The other suggestion is, cut some Halloween fabrics into the mix and make a quilt for your son – it would make a really cute Halloween quilt!

    • Thanks Patti 🙂 I love the idea of swapping out the fabrics – I’m going to keep that one in my pocket for the next time I go a little overboard. 😉 🙂

  8. I am doing the Yuma QAL and it is kicking my butt! I have never worked with triangles before. Ever. Needless to say this is an exercise in patience with myself as I deal with so many bias edges it is a little bit of a nightmare for someone with so little experience with them. I have been finding my errors as I piece and trying to make everything work without having a wobbly, wavy mess when I’m done. 2 more rows to sew together and then joining the two halves. Don’t beat yourself up though because it took me several times of sitting with the pattern in color and B&W before I figured out the ‘scheme’ to it. Not sure if my fabrics are really well suited but I will finish it because it is for my Mom who moved away several years ago and no longer has any beaches on the ocean to go to. She loves the ocean so I used my Tidal Lace collection of fabrics. She turns 60 soon and this will make it’s way to her for her birthday where it will, hopefully, remind her of the beach/ocean that she misses so much!

    • It’s great that you’re sticking with it. I was the same when I first did Y-seams, and I’m so glad I powered through with that learning curve – the difference there was that I liked the fabrics I was using for the project. I just couldn’t fall in love with this combination. I’m sure your Mom will love it – it sounds fabulous and the pattern totally reminds me of waves coming in and out. 🙂

  9. I think you made the right decision to stop when it wasn’t working for you instead of pushing through. Hopefully you can find a way to use the fabrics. There are a lot of small pieces in the 1930 Farmer’s Wife blocks so maybe you can use these in some of those blocks. It took me four years to finally realize my Farmer’s wife was never going to work for me and restart it in a way that was going to make me happy. I heard a quilter say on a recent podcast that it’s okay to abandon projects that aren’t making you happy or that you’ve lost interest in. Hearing that validation allowed me to put some fabrics I was holding onto for a project I was not feeling and was never going to finish (design your own sampler quilt from last year) back into my stash. It felt so good knowing these fabrics were going to be used in other projects. <3

    • Thanks Anita! Funny, I was telling someone that the other day – you need to give yourself permission to just walk away when it’s not working. Sometimes there’s more strength and wisdom in that then powering through. I’m glad that you’re going to be working on a new happy version of the FW – can’t wait to see it!

  10. Hi Angie! I love your honesty and bravery, yes it is too brave to admit in front of a lot of people what you felt to be a failure. Of course, it wasn’t a failure. It was an opportunity to grow and learn. I know, “oh goodie, another one.” Haha, none of us love those “opportunities” when they come, but they are so important because every one of those decisions chisel our personality deeper into who we are. Some people’s closets are so full of things they don’t want others to see that they live anxious lives trying to keep the door closed. Thank goodness, that certainly doesn’t appear to be you! We are all very grateful to see that we’re not the only ones who can make great big mistakes! Your children learn the most from your moments like this. How to handle failure is a huge lesson. Because we all fail. All of us. So, how does the audience react to Angie’s admission, we love you for sharing it. Our feeling of kinship grows and trust is cemented in a person who is “real” with us. So, I can’t wait to see what your sewjo comes up with next!

  11. I feel you. I often have this problem as a working mother of 4 small people ..argh. sometimes I have all the inspiration and no time and then when I do get an hour all the desire drains away aND Netflix calls my name. Sometimes I feel guilty about it (???) but then remember my house is already full of stuff I have made and anymore should be something to be enjoyed not “pushed through”. Whenever I force myself to do something when I feel uninspired it never works so now I try to listen to myself a little closer and only do what I feel like doing . The rest of my life is dictated by others needs/wants so i figure this small part can be 100%me and if that ends in 78 WIP then so be it!

    • Oh my gosh, I’m tired just thinking about having 4 small people to look after. The past few months have been out of the norm for us as we’re dealing with the “first time in daycare” illnesses and it just seems to be never ending. I’ll be happy when winter is over! When people ask me how I get so much done I confess – I rarely clean. Our house is tidy, but I wouldn’t eat my dinner off the kitchen floor (although it looks like someone has!). Hope you get some “you time” today! 🙂 <3

  12. same thing happened with me years ago doing a kaleidoscope piece….i had oodles of lovely fabrics but just couldn’t get it to work despite several attempts…..finally gave up, packed it up and gave it away to somebody who hopefully had more success…..doesn’t happen often…good thing…but it does happen to everyone sometime…a good lesson

    • Oh donating it to someone else is a good idea! Thanks for sharing. I’ll remember that for the next time I’ve made blocks and fallen out of love with them! 🙂

  13. I totally understand. I have a pattern I was working on and did 5 of 12 blocks and just could not get into it. It’s now all packed up which was the right thing to do and I feel much better!!

    • Yes! I have my draw of shame which I put pieces that I’m working on that I’m not enjoying into until I can build up the desire to work on them again. This one though was one step further – I just don’t think it’ll ever work so I’m not even going to put it in the draw and pretend I’ll be able to fix it. Better to put the cut pieces in my scrap bins and use them for something else! 🙂

  14. I have to second the earlier sentiments…thank you for being so open and honest. Sometimes, it’s easy to think that the “quilting pros” are all-on-all-the-time. The feelings you shared are real – and one we can all connect with.

    • Oh Jen you made me laugh – “quilting pro”. I wish I was one of those! I do understand what you mean about being “on”. I guess it’s that thing of only sharing the successes and not the flops. I try not to do that, but I know I’m guilty of it. No one likes to be reminded of the time they stuffed up – it’s human nature. I really should post more of the flops…. 🙂

  15. “Life’s too short for bad quilts” That is exactly what I needed to hear regarding my pile of WIPs I’m currently sorting through (and ironically talked about today on my blog!). Such truth!

    • I originally read that phrase on a book blog I think… life’s too short to read bad books. It’s always stuck with me. Time is finite and so your days forcing yourself to do something because you “feel” like you have to is a waste of that precious resource. It’s bad enough I wasted precious fabric cutting something that didn’t work – then to waste time as well, that’s just shameful.

  16. Angie, your I appreciate your honesty. I think more cool colours in the pieced triangles would work, but the pinks and purples just blend in with the large triangles. With my Yuma top, I originally was going to go random, but once I started laying it out decided to go with the dark-light-dark flow (which is why I had extra triangles later on). I hope your sewjo returns soon.

    • Hi Lisa – Thank you! I think you’re right, or maybe not using fabrics with a white background and putting some white in to the solid triangles instead. Who knows. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around. 🙂 Me too, I could do with some good sewing right now! 🙂