Thoughts on Mess-Ups and a Giveaway!

We’ve all had them: quilting mess-ups. I had one this morning!

messups1 Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

I’m binding a softly-colored scrappy quilt I made recently. I chose these soft stripes on a textured woven cotton from Moda, from an old group called Seaside Rose. Since the fabric is woven I assumed it had no right or wrong side and I sewed all the strips together with diagonal seams, not worrying about right or wrong sides.

messups2 Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

But wait! I discovered there is clearly a right and wrong side to this fabric—of course I made the discovery after the strips had been sewn together.


Should I take them apart? Or can I leave them be? How should I make this decision?


Since I have mess-ups on a regular basis, I’ve grown accustomed to asking these questions and then deciding:

1. What’s the purpose of this quilt? Does it need to be worthy of the quilt police, or is it to be well loved?

how to draw police Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

2. Who is this quilt for? Is it for my best friend’s 50th birthday, or for my toddler great-nephew?

 Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

3. How much time have I spent? Is this a one-month quilt or a five-year quilt?

calendar Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

4. How much money have I invested? Is it Japanese fabrics that cost a whopping twenty bucks per fat quarter, or is it fabric from the guild’s garage sale?

College Recruiting and Money Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

5. How much time and money will it take to fix the problem? If it’s less than a few hours, to me it’s not that big of a deal. If it’s going to be months, and hundreds of dollars in extra fabric that must be purchased? Hmmm.

 Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

6. And for me, the most important question of all: Is this going to bug me forever if I don’t take it out?

Today I decided that yes, this is going to bother me, so out come those stitches. It actually only took me about 10 minutes to unsew and resew all of the seams. Time well spent. Onward!

smiley face Thoughts on Mess Ups and a Giveaway!

How do you decide? Leave a comment here by midnight Friday, Sept. 2 and I’ll choose a winner who will get a variety of fat quarters to play with. The winner is Joanne Pringle. Congratulations!

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email:
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130 Responses to Thoughts on Mess-Ups and a Giveaway!

  1. Found this on MSN and I’m happy I did. Well written article.

  2. Liz M. says:

    I basically do what you did: I ask myself if anyone will notice, how much it will bother me, and how much time/money it will take me to fix it. Unfortunately, the “how much will it bother me” part gets me in trouble as I see my mistakes as being more obvious than they probably are. I picked out all the machine quilting on the first quilt I tried to make because it looked so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to bind it as it was!

  3. Paula G says:

    I decide by a few different factors. 1) is this a quilt that is going into a show – then yes I fix it. 2) is it a quilt for a baby or child – no, it is just going to get spit on, etc. 3) how much is it going to bother me. Sometimes I can fudge things and other times it just has to be ripped.

  4. Judy J says:

    I go through much the same thought process. If it going to bother me later, I normally fix it.

  5. Candy Mak says:

    I would of done the same thing, but sometimes a loooooooooong time will go by before it gets done though. :P

  6. If it doesn’t look right to me I will take it out and do it over. If my husband says that nobody will notice it I ususally leave it alone because he is right most of the time – lol!

  7. MoeWest says:

    Most things would bother me, so I take the time to fix my mistakes.

  8. Lee Ann says:

    It too would bother me enough to ripppppp it out… either in the piecing or long arm quilting phase. My eye would keep going back to that error, subtracting a little joy of accomplishment in the skills employed in the making of the quilt. Of course, I am getting more inventive at fixing “mistakes” as my quilts evolve and the errors are new to me! Great survey question!

  9. Hueisei says:

    I am a perfectionist!
    If I made mistake, I will squeezed my brain to fix it!

  10. Sandi Scarlett says:

    It bothers me when I sew the wrong side of the fabric and normally I’ll rip it out however, a quilt I’m working on now has some fabric (wow) sewn on the wrong side and it was too late to rip it out so I’m leaving it. I don’t think it’s going to be that noticable unless you are the quilt police.

  11. Sherril M says:

    Like you said, if it is going to bother me every time I look at the quilt it is worth taking the time to fix it.

  12. wordygirl says:

    I think your criteria are good ones, and the last is probably most important. I think of my friend whose son always assured her not to worry about any mistakes. After receiving another, “Oh, it’s fine”, and feeling that there was some dismissal of the craft and care in there, she said, “If this were your project, and a reflection of you, would it be ‘fine’?” After that, he was more judicious in his recommendations. In the end, “Will I be okay with it?” is my deciding question.

  13. Carla G says:

    If anything is sewn wrong or anything, I have to take it out, as it bugs me to no end. I’m too much of a perfectionist…

  14. MarciaW says:

    How would I decide? Does me bug me that much? If I take it out, will I mess it up more than if leave it be? Is it a little or a lot of work? Will someone else notice it?
    Now, I’m making a gfc quilt so fat quarters are always welcome!

  15. Colleen says:

    if I first think – should I take it out? should I fix it? i Know i should just do it! thanks for the fun giveaway.

  16. Elizabeth McDonald says:

    I pretty much go with the same question: is it going to drive me crazy every time I look at it? If the answer is yes, then I fix the problem. (This happens quite a bit, and it is amazing that I am getting faster and faster at dismantling something!)

  17. Kris says:

    I run through many of the points that you listed in your post. Who’s getting it? What do I have invested in it? Will anyone but me really notice this?

  18. grace says:

    If I can live with it the mistake stays, but if there is no peace I know that it will always bug me, so the out comes the stitch ripper. It is worth it.

  19. Pat V. says:

    “Will this bug me forever if I don’t fix it” is the way I decide if something needs to be redone. I’d say about half the time, I decide I can live with it. The amount of work involved in the redo often is a factor on whether or not I can live with it!

  20. Lisa Marie says:

    In most situations if I know about a mistake (not like an unmatched seam, but maybe like an upside down block) I will rip it out and re-do. Once I discovered after quilting AND binding a baby quilt that I had sewn an entire section (about a third of the quilt) upside down! I only noticed when I took a photo. I undid the binding and the quilting on about half the quilt, turned the section around and put it all back together. That was one of my biggest goofs in quilting, and I’m glad I fixed it.

  21. Sandy N. says:

    I have a rule for myself if I make a mistake, I will only rip something twice. If, after that I still haven’t managed to solve the problem, I leave it. I know that I’ve tried my best and that’s all I can do. Thanks for the opportunity to win!=)

  22. Linda says:


  23. karen peachey says:

    I’ve had that same problem sometimes sewing a dress & trying to decide which side is which!

  24. Julie Shirley says:

    Like many people, I usually consider how bad the mistake is (how noticeable), who the recipient might be, and how much wear the quilt might have to endure. If the quilt will be heavily used and the error is not that noticeable, I’ll leave it. Otherwise, I guess my pride in my skills takes over and I’ll unsew. Hate to do that, but I can’t stand leaving the noticeable error there.

  25. JoAn GODFREY says:

    I agree with all you have said. but i want to add it depends on when i find the mistake. if it is before i layer it, i will fix it if it really bothers me and if i will see the quilt forever. if it is quilted forget it. it stays.

  26. Lee Ann says:

    It too would bother me. If piecing or long arming… if I catch the error– I will keep attempting to correct the mistake. Thankfully we learn from our mistakes. Too bad my memory isn’t what it used to be…I can’t remember like I once did!

  27. Carrie P. says:

    I would go through the same steps as you and if it really bothered me I would take the time to fix it.

  28. Myra Sattler says:

    Yes that would bother me. I find that if I’m not happy with how a quilt turns out it gets buried in a pile and never gets to the top to be used.

  29. Kaye G. says:

    I tend to believe that finished is better than perfect, and I also know that most people, especially those who do not quilt, will ever notice the mistakes we so generously point out, especially when someone compliments our work. I don’t know why our first reaction to a compliment is to point out why we don’t deserve the praise, but we all do it. If it’s fixable in ten minutes or less, I fix. If not, I try just to forget where the mistake is.

  30. Yes, something like that would bug me and something I have done myself, lol.
    I think I go into brain fog sometimes and then realize I sewed something backwards. So far it has been when I can fix it easily, but sometimes when I find a mistake on a quilt, I leave it in and call it a God’s eye;)


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