May Member Survey Winners - Quilting Insanity Stories

May's member survey question was: "Tell us about your greatest moment of quilting insanity." It could be good or bad...but a moment when you acted purely on impulse or emotion. Did it end in triumph? Disaster? Uncontrollable laughter? Any words of wisdom for other quilters facing similar moments of insanity?

The answers we received expressed every emotion imaginable...but all of you who replied sounded as if any moment of insanity is well worth pursuing in the end!

Congratulations to our winners, Janet Smith, Carol Hubbard and Lilian Shaver (Lil G Shaver) whose responses were chosen at random. Each of them will receive a gift certificiate to one of our online quilting stores.

Ron Burns:
Hilda Gamble:
Hi All!
     I suppose my greatest moment of quilting insanity was when I saw a "quilters cruise" around the British Isles  in Feb.09...  I immediately called my daughter and suggested we book this fantastic opportunity! 
    DONE....  We immediately booked, left from Calgary Alberta to London, England, attended the Birmingham Quilt Show and then away we went on the cruise.   
     Sure was not disappointed  and I'd say it ended in Triumph!  We had a wonderful time, met lots of great quilters ( there were 40 of us on the cruise), had great lessons on different types of quilting and saw so much of the country. 
    Now, am hooked and will be watching for another quilt cruise!   Quilting does not have to be in our own spaces... spread out, meet others and learn new techniques.  
Ida Hansen in Texas:
My greatest quilting insanity was ordering 100 fat quarters Scrap Bay 
from Keepsake Quilting.  What fun my daughter and I had assessing each 
and thinking about possibilities.  But then the work.  In about 2 
years, almost all of them have been used - and, guess what!  Recently, 
I ordered another 100!
Jean Brittingham:
My greatest moment of "quilting insanity" came when asked to take on the roll of Quilt Teacher by teaching Quilting 101 to seniors at our local Senior Citizen Center.  After agreeing to take on this task (keep in mind it is on going and no ending date in sight) and starting to plan, the thoughts of "what have I agreed to" and "am I insane" soon came to the forefront of my mind.   I have severe fibromyalgia and am very often fatigued and left with little energy, and never a pain free day.  Already belonging to many groups and also doing a lot for charity I was thinking "what am I doing volunteering for anything more?"   Of course as always, doing for others brings so much joy to a person's life. 
Let the insanity begin with a group of four women, two of whom have never used a rotary cutter, mat, rulers, or quilted at all before (and these are women over the age of 60).  Throw in the mix that one of these women has brought to class with her a new Singer Futura sewing machine that she just purchased and has never used before and wants me to teach her how to use it.  Of course I have never used this machine before either, but assured her that along with the user manual I will "learn" along with her.  Another woman in the class is 89 years old and very soft spoken but has been a part of the "quilting" at the center since it began (I know her well).  The fourth woman has been quilting for several years but still needs a lot of "hand holding" along the way.  These four women are so appreciative of everything that I teach them and every tip along the way.  They never fail to thank me during and at the end of each class.  No one can leave without hugs all around.  
Recently two more women have joined our group and one is very interested in hand quilting (my fav and a passion) so the word is getting out and we continue to grow.  
My hopes (or insanity) for this group is that eventually we can grow into a day time guild.  Keep the tradition going and growing, and serve a few charities along the way.   So, my greatest quilting insanity moment has become one of my greatest accomplishments and joyful moments in my life.  Wherever quilters and women gather, love and encouragement are sure to follow!!  

Dottie Timberlake in Maine:
My insanity came when I found a lovely kit for a small lap sized quilt that I wanted to make for my grandson.  I was so excited until I made the mistake of asking my daughter-in-law (His Mom) what she wanted for a size or use for the quilt.  She wanted it to be a twin size for his bed.  I spent much of my month of April shop hopping for extra fabrics to add borders, etc to make the quilt the proper size.  I have added stars at the top and now I am adding MORE borders.  I am on the home stretch and should finish soon but I have done a lot of planning and searching when the original kit would have been great.  I do love how it is coming out so my experience is full circle of excitement to despair to again excitement.

Sue Brim:
I once designed and made a quilt top that I just loved. Then came picking out the borders, I bought some fabric, then bought more fabric, and then some more. I couldn't decide and just kept auditioning fabric, it was like a desease. I finally had a talk with myself and said you just have to stop the insanity and decide and finish this thing. I ended up using the first fabric I bought, it was perfect. 

Janet Smith in Lewisville, Texas:
My insane idea of converting a cross stitch pattern I had purchased into a king size quilt started me down the road to "commitment" (as in, men with white coats!).  I emailed the pattern maker and asked for permission to use the pattern as a quilt.  After receiving her blessing I took the DMC threads and matched fabrics to the 68 different colors.  With pictures of bedroom beauty in my head I happily started to cut and sew.  About two weeks into the project I realized exactly what I had started - a project that would take over my life for a good long while. 

This quilt consisted of 29,241 (yes, that's right!) one inch sized squares set 171 by 171, sewn together with just under 1/4 inch seams in order to create a 120 by 120 inch quilt top. Why hadn't I taken that math class in school?  Mom always told me math might save my life.  Well, too late now - I had already become obsessed with the idea.  Since I am retired I could devote a lot of time to this project.  I did not imagine exactly how much time - I worked on the quilt top night and day for over six months, slowly losing my connection with the rest of the world.   My dear husband took over the cooking and cleaning tasks.  My children thought I had taken a trip to the moon since they had not heard from me for so long.  There were days of screaming and nights of wailing. 

Finally, finally, I was finished with the quilt top - and I HATED the way it looked.  The image seemed to be gone - there was nothing but a bunch of colored squares, no picture at all.  Then my husband had an idea - the image was there, I was just too close to it.  He took a pair of binoculars and looked through the wrong end in order to make it look further away and voila! the picture I had been looking for emerged.  I have since received many kudos for the finished project and everyone that sees it seems to love it (although I have never entered it in a show)... hmm, maybe another one is in my future? I wouldn't bet on it!!!!  

Lilian Shaver (Lil G Shaver):
The most insane quilt I ever made was for my new daughter-in law, Paulette, for Christmas 3 years ago.  She fell in love with a 5-gallon bucket of Yo-Yos that had been made by the mother of a lady my son (Jim) worked with.  Every time Marge's Mother made an article of clothing for one of her daughters, she would turn the scraps into yo-yos and then sew them together in groups of 7 to make flowers.

Marge didn't know what to do with them, so she asked me if I would sew them together for her in a quilt.  It was a little difficult because the flowers were various sizes.  Here's the start of her quilt. 

After I finished making the quilt for Marge, Paulette asked Jim to make her one ...... he's a quilter, too.  I bought one of the Yo-Yo Fabric makers and, bless his heart, he was all thumbs when it came to making them and gave up after making just a couple.  That was in July.  Between July and November, I made over 1800 Yo-Yos and sewed them together in groups of 7 as well.  Everywhere I went, I took my Yo-Yo Fabric maker and my shoebox full of squares.  I even went on a band trip with my daughter and Grandson and was making yo-yos on a yellow school bus with a bunch of high school kids!  

For Paulette's Christmas present, I put all of the "flowers" in a box and wrote on the box that "some assembly was required".  The look on her face was priceless when she opened the box!  I told her that I would sew them together for her, but she would have to lay them out and arrange them like she wanted.  My cat, Lucy, helped me sew them together once Paulette arranged them.  See picture also attached.

By the way, I haven't made another yo-yo since November, 2007!

Sandra DeCamp:
My greatest moment of quilting insanity was when I buy on impulse.  I bought all this nice Christmas fabric with no notion of how I was going to use it.  I have made several quilts for our veterans in the VA homes/hospitals.  I have continued to work on this endeavor with a group of ladies in a senior living high-rise.  I enjoy quilting and in my 50+ years as a quilter I have seen many changes come and go.  Looking forward to what the future holds.

Fay Bryant:
I was working on only my second quilting project - a queen size quilt - with my quilt class instructor from the community college.  The quilt was a sampler and she gave me patterns for 6 of blocks, with an individual instruction.  She had me using templates and she had modified the instructions on each pattern for the templates...except inadvertently she had made some errors.  It turns out some of the blocks came out one size and some another.  My instructor was gone for the summer, so I just improvised to make them all the same size.  When we met in the fall it turns out she also had me use the wrong templates, so the quilt could not be finished as the pattern called for.  I had to modify how the blocks would be assembled and when the quilt was finished it looked like an old-fashioned heirloom quilt - totally unique.  After it was bound and on the bed, I woke up one morning to discover that our puppy had sucked/chewed on one side of it, leaving a 3-inch "chew" into the edge, requiring several hours of hand-sewn repair to the top, batting, and backing.  The name of the quilt:  "Comedy of Errors".  It is truly one-of-a-kind.

Alice Ann Hartman:
Oh, it came with great intentions!!  I was making a quilt for my honor her and her husband for their wonderful hospitality.   They welcomed my daughter into their home while she attended a 6 week long clinical rotation in their city during her Physician Assistant training.

Devin, my daughter, and I felt something meaningful and from the heart would be perfect, and a quilt would represent the warmth and love they gave to her.
Since my sister was beginning the process of building a house, I waited until I knew her colors. So after I had purchased the fabric for the quilt, I was "mentioning" that her color for her bedroom, green, was so nice!!  Only to find out she now had chosen blue!!  I even had the blocks cut out by then!  Off to a slightly rocky, but fixable start.

Then I found out she had a king-sized bed.  And being the girl I am, immediately began making this quilt large enough for a bedspread.  Why I did this is still not known, even to me!  I obviously was not thinking how on earth i would hand quilt it! I got new, blue fabrics, cut out the top and sewed it together.  Then stood there just staring at this HUGE thing I created!! 

Ever resourceful, I called one of my quilting mentors....Help!! My dear friend Ethel spoke to her husband James, and after church one Sunday, they stopped at the lumber store, then on to my house.  They also picked up another dear quilting friend, Dusty. James is a thinker, planner, and then carries things out.
He envisioned a long rectangle of  wood to sit upon the quilt frame I had.   He brought the wood along, and using limb cutters---as I had no saw!!---we measured the width we needed, and made our cuts.

Ethel then helped me prepare the quilt backing, batting, then top onto our new wooden lengths.  It took all of us to get the fabric in place and even, but we did succeed!   James also had thought the entire operation through, and had brought along clamps that held the new frame to the old one.   I was set!
We even took a few stitches that day.

I had more than a few times I had to pick quilting OUT, and re-roll the quilt.  It is nearly impossible to explain the complicated procedure I had to perform to get the quilt turned without making wrinkles, with keeping it even and at the right tension. I had to juggle the fabric layers, the lumber pieces which were held together with clamps only, to allow rolling the quilt.   Clamps are not easy to operate with one hand! There were times when I even---although only momentarily--- wished that James had not dreamed this up!  This was frustrating to the near demise of the quilt, but I was determined to do it for my sister!   And I HAD to make it work!!  James and Ethel put so much of themselves into this for me, I couldn't let them down, either.

The quilt group that Ethel, Dusty and I belong to all came to my home numerous times over the next few months while the quilt was being quilted. They put up with me while we would turn it, pin it, unpin it, turn back, repin, etc. The time and immensity of this endeavor was staggering at times.

There were a few more interesting hurdles along the way:  my cat loved to jump up onto the quilt in the frame......causing sagging.    She may have used up more than a few of her nine lives when I would see her on it!    I learned to drag the jerry-rigged frame into my then empty living room and shut the doors. Dragging it often meant it would jump off the underneath frame, meaning I would have to redo the tension yet again-unclamping, rolling, reclamping.......... it was very large and unwieldy.    She also loved the leather thimbles I used, so quite often I would have to track down every single one of them, just to start to quilt.  I learned to put them away, too.

Many sighs were sighed, but as I worked on this quilt I learned that a dream quilt CAN be made come true, thanks to smart, great friends, determination, and more than a little patience.  Although the quilt is a simple pattern, the sheer size of it became legendary in our group.   I learned, too, that a quilt could easily be made smaller and used on top of a bedspread!

There really was love of many kinds put into this quilt.  Love of my sister and love for her,  love of my friends for me to help me make this happen, and love of quilting- not just by us, but by James, too.   The fellowship our quilting brings to us when our group gathers is not something I take for granted; my love for them is so huge that I dont' know how to tell them.  Their love is shown in every single stitch in The King Sized Quilt!

Bettie Ann Johnson:
My insanity starts every time I go on a quilt rally. I go down from Williamsport PA to Roanoke VA to shop hop with my mom. There are usually six or seven shops and when my husband sees all the fabrics I bought he states "You're INSANE. When will you use all this fabric"  Well the answer to that is hard to say because when I go into my stash I get one or two fabrics out and head for our local quilt shop to match up fabrics.  Then as the quilt progresses, I wind up changing my mind on at least one fabric and off I go again. Unfortunately this makes the quilting process longer than necessary, but I love it anyway.

I am enjoying my membership to Quilters Club of America. I have to limit my "exploring" offers because of this recurring Insanity. Anyway, thanks for such a great forum.

Sharon Whalen:
I love to sew at night, when the house is quiet and everyone else is 
safely tucked in for the day. My machine purrs as though is is pleased 
that I'm there, and blocks turn out quite spectacular after 10:30 at 

However, not all of my quilting tools love me the same way at night. 
Although my machine becomes a perfectly well behaved pet, my rotary 
cutter becomes possessed by a demon, probably the same one that was in 
Lizzy Borden's Axe. Strips grow and shrink almost without exception 
during the same cut. The wrong corners magically get whacked off 
triangles, and fussy-cut blocks slip and slide, never to have centers 
in the same place.

The solution is quite brilliant. I sew; I don't cut after 10:30 at 

Perhaps one of your quilting tools come alive at one time or another 
during the day, either for the good or for the bad. Realize it, and 
work with your own daily rhythm rather than fight against it.

Dot Kirchmann:
Earlier this year I received an email, from Quilter's World I think, with a great pattern for a "Shooting Star" wall hanging. I fell in love with it on-sight. But then of course, never being one to leave well enough alone, I had to alter it to become "My Shooting Stars" in honor of my three grandsons. Instead of just one shooting star there would be three radiating out from the upper right corner. After I redesigned the pattern, I found almost all of the material in my stash, and blissfully began cutting out the pieces - over 550 pieces cut into 2" squares! Plus the 3 shooting stars to be set into the pattern. Then I bought the gridded pellon ® to mount all the pieces, only to find out it wasn't iron-on material, so each piece had to be stitched individually. My mental panic subsided when I decided to break it down into 9 sections and worked with only 60+ pieces at a time. MUCH easier to face. It turned out beautifully and was a popular entry in our guild's semi-annual show in April.

Hello fellow quilters,
Well this story will make you cry and laugh at the same time.   I am a quilter but this story is about a beautiful appliqued snowman quilt that I put on my bed during the holidays.
Well this past December, we had an 8 month old Maltese puppy named Lily.  Lily was up on our bed relaxing with us.  I had the quilt folded back so that the back side was folded up at the end of the bed.  When I got up, I went to pick Lily up and noticed a long wet spot on the quilt.  I screamed , "you stupid dog" and grabbed the quilt and took it into the bathroom. I placed the wet spot of the quilt under the faucet and let cold water run over it.
When I finished, I opened the quilt and the red fabric had run all over the front, especially spotting the white background fabrics.  Shaking I called my Mom and she took the quilt and washed it in something for dye runs. Well the red is gone but so is the beautiful deep blue border fabric that is now an ugly brown. No one would know that this happened, but I miss the pretty blue border.
Now, you want to know the real kicker of this story???   Since then, we have let the dog on the bed and we have noticed the same wet spots.   But this time, I actually SAW her LICKING the quilt and producing the same wet spot!!!   Poor Lily got blamed for tee-teeing on the quilt when she only licked the fabric.
Carol Lynn,  Omaha, NE:
At least 15 years ago I designed a king size quilt for myself in 2 shades of green, 2 of red and cream on cream print.  It would be an absolutely gorgeous quilt!  Got it designed, fabric bought and all cut out.  Just one thing, I forgot to take into consideration that I HATE sewing curves!  This was completely designed of Drunkard's Path 3" squares.  Finally my late mother-in-law put all the green pieces together, gave me everything back and said she couldn't take anymore.  Smile emoticon  I did a few off and on and finally came up with the bright idea of donating it all to my church quilt club.  One member came over and saw the 3" squares and came up with her own solution - since this was a combination of my mother-in-law's work and my own why not make 2 lap quilts, one for each of my grown children.  That way it would be something important to them.  That seemed much more manageable to me than finishing enough red & white squares to make the king quilt.  Granted they aren't done yet, I still have a few more red and white squares to put together to have enough to make the blocks (the squares are being put together in 2 different patterns so the quilts will be unique but similar) but I'm hoping to finish them by this Christmas.  Just goes to show that with a different point of view, maybe you CAN finish that really tormenting UFO!  

Linda Spurger:
In July 2009 my daughter-in-law designed a quilt pattern in my EQ-6 for a Christmas gift for herself and our son. I had been asking her to do this for two years.  We went shopping, bought the material she picked out, and I went home to download the pattern and print out the instructions.  Much to my surprise, there were little to no instructions.  Not only were there few instructions, the templates and the instructions that it did have on cutting size did not match (I learned this half way through the project).  Everything seemed to go downhill from there.  I call the quilt, the  Beast as it is 109in wide and 116 inches long as measured specifically for their bed.  I was about to quit when I finally told myself I was better than this and I could and would  make this work  I dug my heals in and determined that the Beast was not going to get the upper hand.. After some very long hours  sewing a seam, ripping the seam, sewing the seam again, crying because it seemed nothing matched, fussing and threatening to throw everything out the window, and just plain ole complaining,  I finally got it done. After sewing for four months I then had to tell  my husband that I would never be able to quilt that monster on my domestic sewing machine and with its size and pattern, it was going to cost a minimum of  $500-$600 to have someone else quilt it. 

To make a long story short, while attending the Houston Quilt Festival I purchased a long-arm, not top of the line mind you, but I love it and I was able to finish the quilt before Christmas. I had very little time to practice on my long arm, so, not only was the Beast a Christmas gift to our kids, it was also a Christmas gift to me (new long arm) and a huge learning experience.  I learned to never give in to your frustrations.  Tackle the project head on, if you make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  Life is too short to worry over a few stitches.  I learned a long time ago that you can do whatever you believe you can do.  I just had to experience  that all over again   However, I have told my kids never again.  :-)

Gail Mandli:
Perhaps it's a touch of old age forgetfulness or just that I've got so much going on in life in general, but I recently found after spending literally HOURS in my favorite quilting shop, pouring over fabrics and making excrutiating decisions, and finally getting home with my newest future quilting project - that I already the exact same fabrics in my studio (ALL of them).  No wonder I ended up with the same fabrics - I had already done this before.  Guess that's why I was drawn to them - again.  Oh well....  


klenihan404 wrote re: May Member Survey Winners - Quilting Insanity Stories
on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, 4:25 PM

eight years ago, I decided that a hand quilted quilt would be a perfect gift for my daughter when she graduated from law school the next year. I had never made a quilt, but had been around quilting people all of my life. at a family dinner (minus this daughter), I announced my plans. My son Jamie thought it was hilarious! He drug out all the old stories about the number of times in his life that I had promised them quilts. We all had a good time at my expense, but to have the last laugh, I said I would make every one of them a hand quilted quilt. How big, they asked. I said bed-sized. Ha ha ha. I have seven children. Well, I have completed three and three more are in various stages of completion. So far, they've been beautiful,and my children love them. Unfortunately, Jamie died later that year. But this story has become one of our favorite family stories and was included on my daughter's crazy quilt when she graduated. It is our memorial to Jamie.

Sondra W wrote re: May Member Survey Winners - Quilting Insanity Stories
on Wednesday, 23 March 2011, 11:25 PM

That is a great story!  Each quilt has a unique history and meaning.  Family history is precious.

jebtkkl wrote re: May Member Survey Winners - Quilting Insanity Stories
on Friday, 30 September 2011, 7:29 PM

I am looking for a pattern to make a crown royal quilt. I can't find one with the star pattern. I found pictures of some beautiful ones made up but no pattern. Can anyone help. Thanks

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