The power of hasty decisions

Misery Quilt border with background quilting

Have you ever considered how much power a small, seemingly insignificant decision can have? Even when you’ve thought and planned and imagined what the outcome would be, sometimes the smallest little pebble can make the deepest waves. There are times you can move backward and reassess, and then make changes and move on in a different direction. But sometimes, for either good or ill, you’re stuck with it, as well as all of the other decisions you’re then forced to make because of the first one.

Don’t get me wrong, some small decisions turn out well or even better than planned, and have positive effects on other things, and we call those “good” and perhaps even “serendipitous.” It’s the ones that have, dare I say it, possible negative effects, that I’m concerned with today, and we call those decisions “hasty” or “rash.” Funny ol’ world, isn’t it?

Friday evening I was bound a determined to progress on this quilt, and I was at a point where I didn’t know where to go next. I know how I want to quilt certain part of the quilt, but some parts are still a bit fuzzy, and have to wait until others are quilted to see how it looks. I’d finished the quilting in the medallions, adding a little clamshell edge just around the inside edge of the ovals, which added the perfect finishing detail to the radiating lines. (Okay, so that was a hasty good decision. 🙂 )

Clamshell edging on medallions

I decided to start adding the little tiny pearls quilting at the very edge of the green border, since that was a plan from the beginning. Problem was, I didn’t know exactly what color thread to use. Choosing one and diving in, I quilted about 25 of these little, teensy, tiny circles, and then decided they were the wrong color thread, and had to spend at least an hour taking out microscopic stitches in silk thread. NOT fun. Gee, if I’d tried the circles first on the sample, I’d have known that the color wasn’t right, but did I do that? Nah. A hasty decision with negative results.

While I was trying to get all the bits of thread out (without tearing up the quilt, thank you very much) I had lots of time to continue thinking about how I was going to quilt the background area in the border. I’d done the echo quilting around the feather edging on the border in a darkish brown thread, thinking that whatever pattern I used in the background, I’d be using that same color of thread.

Unfortunately, I decided later (when I tested the background pattern on a sample; I can be smart sometimes) that I probably wouldn’t be happy with that much dark brown thread showing on the backing fabric, so that was a problem. I knew that I would need to stitch over some of the echo quilting again when I put the background pattern down, so it needed to be the same color thread, and now I wanted to use something lighter.

Choices: take the echo quilting around the feathers out and make it the lighter color, and then add a line of echo quilitng around the medallions in the lighter color as well. I didn’t really relish either of those options. So just that one decision about thread color caused this major hangup. I finally decided to leave the darker color on the quilt, and use the darker thread on the top and a slightly lighter shade in the bottom to quilt the background design, and ignore the spots on the back where the lighter thread would be stitched over the darker.

I’d probably never do that with cotton thread because getting the tension balanced right between the top thread and the bobbin thread would be nearly impossible, and there would always be spots of the bottom thread showing on the top of the quilt and top thread on the bottom, but the silk thread works beautifully this way. I won’t even go into most of the agonizing that was deciding on the pattern, but suffice it to say that I had planned all along to quilt Diane-shiko in this area, on a diamond grid instead of a square on point grid to echo the diamonds and the quilting in the other areas of the quilt.

I tested the Diane-shiko and a couple of other options in different sizes (see, I tested on a sample, so maybe I am learning), and decided the Diane-shiko was too curvy and too painful to quilt on a diamond grid anyway, so I finally settled on a 1/4″ straight diamond grid.

Misery Quilt border with background quilting

It looks good, but I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with it, which may be simply because it isn’t what I’ve seen in my head since the beginning so I need to adjust. Another portion of my unease may stem from the fact that it’s a huge amount of quilting to be done around this border. Maybe I could have gotten away with a larger grid, like 3/8″ instead of 1/4″, but this much is done now so it’s either take it out and change the size (*shudder*) or continue on (and on, and on, and on, and…). Even this not-so-hasty decision has mega power.

Misery Quilt border with background quilting

In the end, the background quilting is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is compress the areas around the larger quilting motifs to make the motifs stand out more. Mission accomplished, I think, despite the rocky decision process. It’s quite likely that you won’t see pictures of this quilt for a while, since there’s a lot of “more of the same” quilting ahead. I think my next quilt will be much smaller, which is probably a good decision, hasty or not! 🙂

Misery Quilt border with background quilting

Quilt stats: approx. 82″ x 82″, 100% cotton fabrics, machine embroidered with Sulky rayon thread, machine pieced with 100% cotton thread, machine appliquéd, machine quilted with #100 silk thread, Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting. Started: Fall, 2004. Currently in progress, as yet unnamed–commonly referred to as The Misery Quilt, The Bird Quilt, or simply “monster.”

4 thoughts on “The power of hasty decisions

  1. Thanks Kristin! Working on the outer border isn’t too bad on my hands actually, especially since it’s not stippling! I’m more worried about my mind holding up, because right now (despite my bravado) it’s looking pretty endless, and I’m having a hard time moving forward if you know what I mean.


  2. I Hate undoing teeny, tiny stitches. I HATE it. Mostly because I didn’t do a sample (still haven’t completely learnt that lesson) & it’s my own fault. You have my heartfelt commiserations for undoing teeny, tiny stitches. But the quiltings fabulous.


    1. Thanks Peta! I have learned, especially with silk thread because it’s MONSTROUSLY wicked to remove silk thread and tiny stitches. Even after having learned though, I’m sure I will backslide and there will be more moments where I kick myself repeatedly whilst waving the seam ripper about. 😉


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