Fixing Quilting Mistakes: Taking the Time to Make it Right

Recently, I’ve been getting back into quilting after a few month’s hiatus (thankfully not from postponing fixing quilting mistakes). I had made several designs that I was super excited about starting but that had a lot (a lot a lot) of piecing. Now, piecing is my favorite part of quilting. I can get really absorbed in it. So much so that I can stay up well past my bed time, zooming through the fabric. But there is nothing–not bed times, not dinner, not even the end of the audiobook–that kills that quilting feeling like realizing you’ve just made a mistake. A big mistake.


Maybe you’ve just trimmed a diagonal seam you sewed the wrong way, and you don’t have any more fabric from which to cut a new piece. Or did you just chain piece 20+ section the wrong way and now have to seam rip them all? Have you tried to get all the points of your pieces together several times now and still can’t get it right? Fixing quilting mistakes sucks. Its time consuming and ruins the flow of your forward progress. But it’s the most important part to getting to your final quilt.


Don’t let the mistake stall you

Fixing quilting mistakes: sewing along the wrong side
Did I really just sew this seam along the wrong side…?


It’s easy to hit a large mistake and put the project down… and then never pick it up again. I’ve been guilty about this in the past. Some mistakes are too big to recover from. Like the time I used a Sharpie to mark pieces, which then bled through the fabric after washing. But most mistakes aren’t. A recent mistake I made was not trimming some half square triangles made 4-at-a time before continuing my piecing. The blocks were half an inch too big. And while I could have made the mistake look ‘okay’, I knew I needed to redo the piecing to make the quilt look right for my pattern design.


Fixing the simple mistake took over two hours of seam ripping, trimming, and sewing. The whole time I was thinking about how far along I could have been if I had not made a mistake. I wanted to put the work down and take a break for the night. And sometimes that is the right move. But you can’t let the mistake prevent your from getting back into sewing because you don’t want to seam rip. I jumped right back into it, working to get as much done the night I recognized the mistake. That way I could start back fresh with piecing the next day.


Problem solving in fixing quilting mistakes

Some quilting mistakes can be doozy. Like cutting a piece to the wrong size only to realize you don’t have any left over fabric. Now that I’ve been quilting for such a long time, I’ve started to take precautions for this. Buying a quarter or half yard more of the most used fabrics in your quilt can leave you a little buffer in fixing quilting mistakes. This isn’t always feasible. Maybe there isn’t enough yardage of the fabric you want to buy at your local store. Maybe you can’t find the right fabric color online. Or maybe you don’t have the money spend on that.


Fixing mistakes doesn’t have to mean your quilt needs to be perfect. Can you piece scraps together and make section of fabric large enough? Do you have another fabric that’s close enough in color to hide the mistake? Even using a fabric that super different can high light the mistake and make a more unique quilt – such as making one out of all the blocks a different color to stand out.


When you can’t fix a quilting mistake

Sometimes it’s just not going to come together. Chronically fixing quilting mistakes can make the project worse. For example, you should only seam rip the same seam a few times. Over time, punching holes in the fabric will make the fabric lose its integrity. It can begin to fray or the leftover holes can remain visible in the fabric.


At some point you have to be happy with finished over perfection. Perfection itself isn’t a hard and fast rule, and what’s perfection to you will change over time based on your skills and your timeline. Quilting should be fun. Learning new skills and getting better at old ones is important at growing in a hobby, but keeping your happiness and forward progress is the most important.


Quilting never goes as planned

We all run into mistakes. Whether we sew the wrong thing. Choose the wrong thread color. Or get a stain on some fabric. But fixing quilting mistakes can be frustrating and time consuming as they ruin the flow and forward progress of your quilting.


Taking the time to slow down, assess the problem, and work on fixing the mistakes is the most important part of making a product your are happy about. Whether its just some extra time, finding a creative fix, or just being happy with ‘close enough’, fixing quilting mistakes help us become better quilters. And that’s the most important thing long term.

Sew on!

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