Tuesday, November 9, 2010

To unpick or not to unpick

This weekend, Amanda Jean raised the question of when to just leave imperfections alone and when to go back and rip them out. In the middle of quilting a quilt myself, my first response was, "Every quilt is a learning process. Finish it and move on." Sometimes though, getting it right IS part of the process.

I started thinking more and more about my quilt and wondering if maybe I should kick it up a notch. Here are the questions I'm asking myself to decide whether or not to get out the seam ripper.

1. What is the purpose of this quilt?

It is a gift for a friend who got married recently. However, all of my quilts right now are "quilting practice". I want to push myself beyond my current free-motion quilting abilities, so I take it as a given that the quilting will be less than perfect as I learn. (I take Diane at her word when she says here, "Make the quilt for a baby, friend or an in-law. They will love whatever you do, good or bad, mistakes and all.")

2. What is the problem?

The quilting I'm thinking about changing is actually the part I love best! I wanted free-motion roses in the border and spent a lot of time sketching to find a design that looked like roses and could be done as a continuous line. Figuring it out and being able to do it on the quilt itself feels like a major step, no leap, forward in my quilting. All weekend I wanted to call a quilter to celebrate the milestone. (Ok, I might have sent one little e-mail to shout "Yipppppeeeeee!")

The problem? They don't quite fit the design of the rest of the quilt. They are dense, detailed and semi-realistic roses. The rest of the quilt is open curves...outline quilting, wonky spirals, big cursive words. Those prolific roses up against the spacious words...just not working for me. (We're not even going to discuss thread choice. Learning about that one from observation, not correction, on this quilt.)

3. Do the problems affect this primary purpose?

Not really. I think my friend will still like it and I learned to consider how the different parts of a quilting plan work together as a whole. It gives me a new perspective for future quilts, whether I pick out this one or not.

4. Is there a simpler solution rather than unpicking???

Possibly. Perhaps adding vining leaves or something around my words will make the contrast between words and flowers not so drastic. A bit of time brainstorming ideas on that one may be a life-saver.

5. Can I do better?

On this part, yes. I definitely feel confident that I can figure out roses that fit the open, curvy style of the rest of the quilting.

I am not touching the rest of it since I don't know that I can do better on the center curves or the wonky spirals in the first border. (They weren't supposed to be wonky.) Unpicking either of those parts sounds like torture and may not improve anything. Plus, it is just time to give her this quilt already!

6. Will I (or my friend) get out of it what I put in to it?

Undecided. Unpicking and redoing, probably not.

7. Do I honestly have the time to change it?

Also undecided. As I said before...it's time for this project to be done already and gifted. Maybe not.

8. Will it feed my creativity and sense of satisfaction or deplete it?


Hmmmm...lots of undecideds or maybe nots. Unpicking may not be worth my time. I think I'm going to spend some time sketching some possible fillers for around the words. I'll keep you posted.

When do YOU go back and redo? When do you just let it go?


Brenda said...

amazing roses and words! I would leave them and add the vine, and know that your friend will appreciate the quilt. that said, if I was keeping it and it bugged me everytime I looked at it, I would change it. but then again, I don't like ripping out stitches....so I'm with you....undecided.

Victoria @ BUMBLE BEANS said...

I would leave it! each quilt I do, I always have errors, and each quilt I do, i learn a new thing or get better at something else... I can look back at them and see where I learned a few new tricks. your roses look spectacular... and know that when You wash it, you can't see many of those ooopsies... hugs!!! you Rock girlie!

Lisa said...

I would leave it too. Each quilt is a step in the learning process. I only rip out if the tension is really off and my stitches are EXTREMELY uneven. Otherwise, it just becomes part of the quilts story, and learning experience. Your roses are amazing!

amandajean said...

your roses are amazing!!! LEAVE them in!!! i like your vine filler idea. man, you've done enough quilting for about 4 quilts on that one. you are doing fabulous. you should be proud of your work.

rosemeg said...

I vote for leaving the roses -- clearly, so much work went into them, and they are beautiful! Maybe you need to stuff the whole thing in a closet for a few days to refresh your editing eye? Maybe add vines to the words first to help them blend, then put it away and see what you think? I think it's beautiful, and, if this level of stitching is a new accomplishment for you, it seems an extra shame to tear them out.

Jessica said...

i'm almost left speechless by the beauty of your roses, but i'm trying to collect my thoughts because this post deserves lots of good comments. I think the roses and the words are a perfect filler for the wide border. a line of viney leaves would go well under the words, but even without them the border looks stunning and complete. I'm with Lisa on the unpicking issue== only if my tension is waaay off and there are thread bunnies calling the quilt home. And even then i don't always rip and redo, i have found that i can work the thread of a thread bunny out to the point were i can tie a not and bury it, and then i just keep right on quilting. most of the time i won't stop to pick quilting out unless the line is going somewhere i totally didn't want it to go. (i.e. the weight of the quilt pulled itself in a bad direction/out of a seam boundary/etc), but i do the same for handquilting.. if i don't like how it looks, and i cant work the line into a new wave/direction/pattern, then it comes out. It's whatever strikes me as feeling "right" at that moment. good luck deciding what you want to do.

Nina said...

Your questions leave me speechless. (Imagine that!) Give me a daffodil to scan, php to code, but suggestions about unpicking something that looks absolutely beautiful to me is so out of my league. I predict that the receiver of said quilt will not even notice any of the things that your expert eye can see!

carolyn said...

By all means bind it up and let it go...you have other quilts to make ...I know you do. It may not be perfect but it's good enough to move on...

Sooz said...

And now I've found you. And it is a worthy question, to unpick or not. But if there is any reason NOT to unpick, then don't. I see a beautiful quilt with lots of heart-felt effort put into it, quality effort, at that, and you don't need to gild the lily.

I love putting surprise words or images into my quilting.

Looking forward to more interaction. Best, Susan

CharlotteP said...

I would leave them too!! The roses and the words are really beautiful and original. As the middle of the quilt is a busy pattern and you have a wide, plain border, isn't it appropriate to quilt them differently too? Don't waste hours unpicking something lovely, it's always possible to say 'that bit could have been better' (in your opinion!) Use your time to quilt another lovely quilt!

Pascale said...

I wouldn't touch it and certainly not rip the rose part out. That being said, last weekend I had my first try ever at quilting - all very free form, because that's all I can handle right now, and I must admit that I started over the quilting part at least three times, before I was happy with it...

Mom said...

I think you should start a whole new quilt for your friend and GIVE THIS ONE TO ME! I love it!