March 29, 2012

how to have a nervous breakdown

It's taken me over three months to summon the strength to write about this ordeal. Please bear with me, this might take a while...

Last fall one of my friends from childhood commissioned me to make several quilts for her to give as Christmas gifts. I drew up a quick pattern and suggested a line of fabrics, which she loved, and I quickly got to work. I got the tops finished and backings pieced and took them to my long-armer to quilt. I normally quilt my own quilts, but time was not on my side, so off they went.

As usual, my quilter did a wonderful job. Aren't they beautiful? I quickly got them labeled and bound and then they were off for a quick wash and dry before I was to wrap them up for delivery.

One thing I failed to mention earlier in the story is that both quilts had photographs pieced into the backing. I have used printable fabrics many times. This time I had opted for a new-to-me type of printable fabric for these two quilts. At the time, it never dawned on me that I should probably do a little test first. Live and learn.

So, as I reach into the washing machine, i see what appears to be ink bleeding through the quilt top. Panicked, I pull both quilts out of the machine followed by a profanity filled tirade. The quilts..... were due.... to my friend.... the next morning! The ink had transferred from the printable fabric through the batting, to the front of the quilts and beyond. It was an enormous disaster.

The chain of events immediately following my discovery are a bit hazy. I recall leaving a few profane messages on my friend Royce's voicemail. I soon targeted my rage on 'that damn' fabric. So I came into my office to find the package in hopes of finding a phone number for the manufacturer. You can bet your sweet behind, I was going to let them have it. As I was giving the packaging a once over, my eyes locked in on this.

WHAT THE (**&%&^$*^&*!

At this point, I remember texting this photo to Royce with a profane message questioning why ANYONE would use a dry clean only printable COTTON fabric on a quilt, and why, for the LOVE OF GOD did the manufacturer not feel it was important to point out this "product feature" in a more dramatic fashion?

In the meantime, my inky quilts are just hanging out, and my panicked self decides to come up with a plan. First things first, I messaged my friend to reschedule delivery for the following week. Fortunately that was better for her schedule.
The photos on the back were ruined, there was no way to save those. So I moved on to finding a way to get all that ink out of the quilts. The alternative (and last resort) was to remake both quilts. I soaked them in hot water, I used Retayne, but in the end, what worked best was four-five washings in the sanitizing wash cycle of my washing machine supplemented with lots of Shout, lots of Baking Soda, a heaping helping of Oxy Clean and Tide.

While I washed the quilts, I put together a plan to applique the photos onto the quilt backs. It took an entire day to wash the quilts and another whole day to get the photo appliques ready and stitched onto the quilts. I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained by the time I finished the last one and snapped this quick photo.

I agonized over the fact that the quilts weren't perfect. But my friend loved them and never knew there was an issue. She was thrilled to be giving a cherished heirloom to members of her family. She knew they would be loved, so to her, they were perfect... and that's really what matters in the end.


  1. Holy Crow! That would have given me a nervous breakdown too. The quilts are really pretty and I am glad you were able to save them.

  2. Big bummer! I'm glad you figured out how fix them without having to redo them.


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