Meet the UFOs! Part I: Lemoyne Star

January 26, 2010 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

I can’t put all my UFOs up at once, or this would be the longest post in blog history, but I have to start somewhere, and I may as well start with one that I never dreamed would end up unfinished.  As with so many dysfunctional relationships, it all started so well…

Lemoyne Star Quilt Top

Complementary Color Lemoyne Star

My friend Diane and I took a class from Barbara Lenox in 2003 (or so) on Lemoyne stars.  I definitely needed a class, because my first attempt at sewing together 45-degree diamonds resulted in bra cups rather than blocks.  Now, Barbara has a reputation for being a tough teacher because she insists that you do things her way.  But her way works, and what did you come to class for if you just wanted to do things the same old nonworking way?

As part of this, she had us make our class blocks using red and green diamonds.  She didn’t want to have to talk about light and dark, or fabric A and fabric B, she wanted to be able to say, “Put the red diamond on top of the green diamond” and have everyone on the same page.  It was very effective, but at the end of class I had red and green stars on a pink background, as I hadn’t wanted to make Christmas blocks.  They were beautiful and flat — not even a training bra.

At this point in my quilt life, I believed myself to be a finisher.  I was not comfortable with the idea of putting these blocks in a drawer for some mythical future project; I wanted to make a quilt.  A big, bed-size quilt.  And I had just bought my mom a book about two-block secondary designs.  So I made a total of 12 Lemoyne star blocks, using complementary colors from the color wheel as the star points with pastels of the three primary colors as the backgrounds.  (No one was going to accuse me of not thinking this through.)  Then I used one of the block layouts from my mom’s book to make the alternate blocks and join them together.

Then I was possessed by demons.  At least, that’s the only logical conclusion to be reached if you look closely at the border fabric I used on this quilt top.  I wanted a black background, and I wanted all the bright colors from the top to appear in it to tie it all together.  However, I apparently didn’t want to spend any time or effort finding the RIGHT fabric to meet these criteria, so I bought the first one I found:

Bad Border for Lemoyne Star Quilt

"We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land!"

I won’t sport with your intelligence discussing WHY this is a bad border fabric (for anyone who doesn’t happen to be a 6-year-old playing Pretty Pretty Princess, that is) but I will say that I have no intention of ripping it all out.  Since it is actually pieced into the alternate blocks, ripping it out and replacing it would be an exercise in futility and a way to make sure that this UFO stayed unfinished forever.  But I do plan to cut the Bad Border down to a less objectionable width and add a pieced border, which I actually made the blocks for within the last 4 years, the last time I tried to finish this quilt.

Lemoyne Star Border

I don't exactly remember what I was trying to accomplish here.

So what’s the holdup?  First off, there’s fear of failure.  I have to calculate the right size to cut the Bad Border down to so the pieced border fits properly, and then I have to actually cut it down correctly and accurately.  Both these obstacles seem much harder than doing it right the first time would have been, and undoubtedly seem harder than they will be once I muster up to do it.

This quilt also represents another barrier to finishing, the learning curve.  In a (wonderful, game-changing) machine quilting class I took in 2004 from Karen Kay Buckley, she told us that people frequently ask her how long it took to make her latest (gorgeous, award-winning) quilt.  She said she always wants to answer, “My entire life up until now.”  This makes perfect sense to me.  Every quilt I make is a learning experience, and I’d like to think that each one gets a little better in some way or another.  When I have to “go back in time” to finish a UFO, all the things that I would now do differently jump out at me, and they get demoralizing.  In some ways, it seems easier to just move on to a new project that doesn’t have these problems than to try to fix this one.

Some good advice to remind myself of at this point:

“Nothing in life is a failure if you learn anything from it — even if all you learn is, I’m never going to do that again!”  — Ricky Tims, speaking at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar, Richmond, VA, July 2007

“There are many tragedies in life — a mistake made in fabric is not one of them.” — Libby Lehman, speaking at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar, Frederick, MD, May 2009

“Just play.  If it goes wrong, fix it.  The best things happen from that.  If you haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything right, either.” — Sieglinde Schoen Smith, speaking at York Quilters’ Guild, July 2009

Amen to all that.

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And In the Darkness Bind Them The Road to… New Jersey??!!?

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Siamese Cat on Sewing Machine

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