Points that Disappoint

I was hoping to write about my progress in piecing a quilt I’ve been working on for more than two years, but instead, I’m trying to make sense of a project gone horribly wrong. Here are the blocks right before things blew up —

Saltwater taffy quilt

My picture doesn’t do justice to the true beauty of this quilt. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it here on the Twin Fibers blog. I ordered the pattern (available here), and painstakingly selected colors (my favorite is the red-orange solid). After picking colors, I started sewing together many, many half-square triangles to make pinwheels.


After that, there was trimming with a template, attaching additional triangles, and – finally, finally – squaring up the blocks so I could start joining them in rows. Unfortunately, what I discovered once I started joining the blocks is that most of the points on my triangles didn’t match. Oh, a few of the points looked good, but the majority were off, and when I say off, I mean horrendously off.

After talking with an experienced quilter, I realized that I got a little over-exuberant when squaring up the blocks. In my zeal to make sure the blocks were square, I usually didn’t leave enough material for a quarter-inch seam allowance.

I feel like a novelist who has worked on a book for years, only to discover that the work has fundamental defects.

I’ve been thinking of my options, and they boil down to these:

  1. Grit my teeth and sew the blocks together even though lots of the points look terrible;
  2. Take a rotary cutter to the blocks and cut them up into random-sized strips of fabric that I then join to other random-sized pieces of fabric and use in an improv-pieced crazy quilt;
  3. Donate the “bad” blocks to a group that accepts UFOs and that will be able to do something with them;
  4. Store the few remaining “good” blocks in a cardboard box, get started on a new project, and return to this project only when I have my courage and patience back.

I think I am going to choose options 3 and 4.

Have you ever had a project implode on you? How did you get over the feeling of “wasted time” when there was no finished project to show? I welcome all insight!



5 thoughts on “Points that Disappoint

  1. Robin

    If you have enough of your white background fabric, you could just cut off new triangles for the 4 corner pieces, sew a new white/background triangle 1/8″ or 1/4″ in from where the bottom of your colored triangle used to be (so that now your pinwheel looks just an eensy bit smaller, like if the colored triangle sections used to be 2″ high from top to base, now they’re 1-7/8″ or 1-3/4″ high, but you’ve also got more white space on the sides to work with), and then re-square (carefully) and make a slightly smaller quilt where the points match.

    Also, technically you could just sew it together with less than 1/4″ seams (I’m not a big follower of the “scant” 1/4″ seam movement that goes on in modern quilting, but others are nuts about it) and the quilt it densely or strategically to compensate. If you’re planning on subjecting it to severe wear & tear that might not work, but otherwise, it’s worth a shot.

    If these both seem like too much work, might consider making the quilt imperfections and all, and making it a gift for a child: I sew for my nieces and nephews who are all under the age of 6, and let me tell you, nothing excited a kid like an awesome colorful quilt made “just for you.” Translation: they are not the most critical audience, and if you want someone to love it like you’d envisioned loving it yourself, there’s your easy solution. Plus, in putting it together you may find that you’re less critical of the final product once it’s assembled. I typically go through a “this sucks and is ugly and will never make a loveable quilt!” crisis at least once per quilt I make, but often I do come out the other side thinking, “well, this part here’s a little wonky, but it’s still colors I like and a nice composition.”

    • northshorequilter

      Hi Robin,
      Thanks for your suggestions! I like all three, particularly the first (although I’m not quite sure I’m understanding it completely), so I think I’ll run it by my quilting teacher. It would be great to think that just switching out the corner triangles could solve my difficulties. I feel more hopeful after reading your comment, so thank you!

      • Robin Loves Quilting

        No problem! You can also drop me an email if you need further explanation, but I’m pretty sure your quilt teacher will know what I am talking about. Sffredett is right that it’s not a “just” because it will be time consuming to switch them out (and I should have specified that the second set of triangles will need to be bigger in order to compensate for being “closer to the center of the block”), but hopefully it should solve your problem! Just be prepared to add more blocks or some sashing around the outside at the end if you have a certain finished size you are going for.

  2. sfredett

    I agree with Robin that you could “just” attach new white corner pieces and salvage the pretty parts. I say “just” because that’s A LOT of work. 😀 But if you truly love it (and it seems you do) then it could be worth the extra effort. And it is super pretty.

    For my first quilt, I attempted super tiny pieces (4″ stars and even smaller flying geese). But with no idea of an accurate seam, or trimming, I never made it past making a few blocks that were horribly out of square, with no points, and poorly undersized. 😀 Its on my list to finish that quilt this year, since it was always intended as a gift to my grandmother, and she’s visiting next year.

    Where on the North Shore are you? I love randomly finding ‘local’ people on the internet. I’m more southern MA, almost RI. 😀

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