Yesterday I began quilting a gift for someone special. You may have seen the top before in this post. It’s been patiently waiting while I ventured through the Delectable Mountains, completed (except binding) a project with my small group, and survived Fire and Ice.

Sometimes I have trouble getting the right thread tension, so I checked now and then and it looked very good.

I got done with the first pass of quilting. It’s an area about 16″ x 74″, or something like that. It looked good, went easily. I was happy. I rolled the quilt to advance it on the frame.  And I noticed … there was a big pleatey area all down the right side of the pass. The backing fabric hadn’t been pulled smooth and taut enough when I pin-basted the edge, so I stitched in pleats. 

I climbed under the frame to identify and mark the pleated areas with pins through from underneath. From the top, I found the quilting line that led through the pleats. I free-motion quilt, so the line can range a bit, wandering backwards and forwards, left to right. The quilting line covered a larger area than the pleats did, about 16″ x 12″. I made a fence with pins around it, to define where I needed to unstitch.

An area that took less than five minutes to quilt took more than an hour to unstitch.

Once I finished and removed the pins, I clamped the back fabric to pull it smooth. I sprayed the area lightly with water, on both the top and back of the quilt. With drying, the holes from stitching close up, and the fabric on the back dried taut, not saggy.

Today after going to the gym and errands, I’ll get back to the quilting. Wish me luck!

25 thoughts on “Unstitched

  1. Quilt Musings

    Ah pleats…so frustrating when you find them. Though even more frustrating when you find them after you have finished the quilt. Luckily you found them before doing even more extensive quilting! I find that I am much less likely to get them when I pin rather than spray baste..but pinning is so painful and troublesome…

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Spray basting seems to lend itself to pleating! So hard to get the layers all smoothed down over each other. I did get finished with no more of *that* type of problem!! Thanks!

  2. KerryCan

    Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’ve never done this, since I don’t machine quilt, but I do know how icky it is to rip out hand quilting and I don’t envy you at all. You might consider investing in an optivisor, for when this sort of thing happens.

  3. katechiconi

    Aaargh! I’m grateful I don’t quilt on a longarm, because I’m a lot less likely to do loads of work before I discover a problem. I did find it useful hearing about your recovery strategy, and the quilt’s so beautiful it needs a pristine result. Good luck, good patience…

  4. Paula Hedges

    I have a love/hate relationship with my seam ripper. Love to have the help it provides when needed; hate to have the need to use it. I have found myself under the quilting frame a time or two, sometimes ripping from that angle. As frustrating as it can be, while I sit under the quilt, I can’t help but remember the hours I played under quilt tents made on rainy days with the help of furniture and lots of clothes pins. I do love your quilt with all the bright colors and the pattern is fun. Today will be better!

  5. Pat D.

    Thanks for sharing this. For us newbies this kind of info is so helpful. Had to smile at the photo of the seem ripper. It’s become my best friend when sewing. 🙂 The quilt is beautiful–love the colors!

  6. tierneycreates

    I could not click the Like button as I do not like that this happened to you! I have done this myself, but on a domestic machine. Thanks for the tip about spraying the area with water. Hope the rest of your quilting goes smooth 🙂

  7. jmn111

    Hate when that happens – less of a problem with “quilting in the hoop” but occasionally my under thread tension is a mess and the whole hooping has to be taken out. Fingers crossed that you’ve tamed this quilt.

  8. piecefulwendy

    Oh goodness, that would have been so frustrating to have to undo all that stitching! Hope it goes better today!


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