Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last Comments About the Blue Portal Piece

I would like to thank all of the people that commented about my blue portal piece. The comment that summed up my own feelings about the piece were made by The Idaho Beauty.

She said, "I agree that the quilting over/within the stones is too much of a good thing. I think the cleanness of the previous picture shows this work to better advantage. This is always my fear with machine quilting - when is enough enough and will I add one more thing that makes theoretical sense but in reality just detracts? Sometimes simplicity really is the best tactic. I have an awful time visualizing my results in advance. However, it is still a lovely little piece, and I like that you have learned from it, instead of just calling it a failure. It succeeds if only because you've chosen to allow it to help you grow."

The reason I have posted about this comment is that I think we all have a lesson to learn from it. When I was just starting to learn to machine quilt I pretty much did very simple quilting in the ditch because that's all I could do. As I learned to free motion quilt I began to feel like I had to do more elaborate quilting on every quilt I made. I felt like it was not doing my best if I did not quilt the quilt to death. I was no longer in my own mind allowed to do simple quilting even if that was the best thing to do for the quilt. My experience with the blue portal has been a wake up call. Sometimes simple quilting is better. Not doing elaborate free motion quilting is not wimping might be just what the quilt needs.

My comments back to The Idaho Beauty shows that this is not my first experience of this nature, but I think this time I have learned my least for now.

"Idaho Beauty, I completely agree with your comments. I think that for such a small piece that the thread within the stones overwhelms it. The thread sticks out way too much. Maybe if these were large stones that I could have done the stitching inside the stones and even so I should have used a thinner thread. I had a similar issue last summer with my house quilt for the trees behind the house. The trees were made of small pieces just like the stones in the portal piece. Initially I did quite a bit of free motion quilting inside the pieces. I ended up spending hours and hours tearing out all the stitching and then just quilting around the pieces. It looked 100% better doing that.

This time I will not take the time to tear out the quilting. In fact you would have thought that after all those hours of ripping out stitches for the house quilt, I would have remembered why I ended up doing that and not to do it again. I am going to keep this quilt so that if I ever think of doing this sort of thing again, I can look at this portal piece and see why I should not! It is a lesson learned and lessons are good things."



  1. I was so relieved that you didn't take offense at my comment. I understand the urge we quilters have to bolster each other's confidence, and also that what appeals to one person won't to the next. However, I know I appreciate honest critiques from time to time - it helps me grow and sort out my true feelings.

    I think many of us go through that progression in quilting, starting simply, ramping it up as our skills increase, and then feeling like we're slacking off if every quilt isn't chocked full of intricate designs and quilting stitches. There's a lot to be said for minimalism, and of course, even more to be said for listening to what each quilt needs to be complete. It takes a lot of courage, as you have surmised. And you have to keep reminding keeping this for that memory jog is perfect.

    I wanted to share another positive that has come out of your experience. I'm about ready to quilt a mosaic piece, much larger than yours but made up of squares laid out a bit like your stones. It's a garden theme and I've been struggling with whether or not I should quilt or run machine embroidery of viney leafy stitching over the mosaic squares. So unsure of this was I that I'd intended to do up a small sample to see how it would look. I feared it would be too much and distract. After looking at your portal piece several times more, I realized you'd done the sample for me, and I WOULDN'T like the effect on my quilt.

    I probably will do the sample anyway, but it's been very helpful to see a similar idea and the outcome before I finish my own quilt. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Hi Chris! I just need to say, I still prefer the "busier" quilt. :-) Maybe it's because I'm a collage artist and not a quilter. I absolutely believe in the importance of constructive criticism and I'm glad you felt understood and encouraged by The Idaho Beauty. I just wanted you to know I wasn't saying I liked it just to be encouraging. I TRULY like it!!

  3. Kathy, I did not think that either you or the others that said that they liked the quilt were just saying that to be encouraging. And the quilt looks fine as it it. But you know how it is when you look at a piece of your own artwork and you just know that it is not a good as it could be or that something is just not right. That's how I felt.

    The one that was heavily quilted was washed so some of the effects of "wrinkling" we all love in quilts is there. The other one was not quilted around the blocks yet and not washed so it is hard to judge how it will look when it is quilted and washed.

    Now I will have to create another similar piece and just do minimal quilting to see how that comes out!

    Kathy, Love you for your honesty and for your friendship!

  4. Chris, your Blue Portal reminds me of gridiron. I believe that it's a matter of interpretation. I can see the hard work that you did in making the bricks. What I have learned is how to make my "bricks" look like elaborate gridiron works of art!

    Thanks, Diana Bracy


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