I posted pictures of a vintage quilt top a few days ago


and pointed out how the center is a problem


How does that happen?

The pieces are all diamonds

No matter how you cut a diamond there will be bias edges.   Bias edges stretch when you sew them and that distorts the pieces.    Multiply the little bit off that they all become by all the seams in the top and you have a problem.    Where 6 of them all come together in the center it makes a big bump, or quilt volcano.

How can this be fixed?   Here is one way

Press the top and work from the outside edges in to the center.  Every top will be off in a different way.  For this one all the fullness comes out if I press it all to the center right down the middle.


For some quilts I would have to do this in  the opposite direction as well.  This one has quite a large pleat down the center after pressing and the rest of the top is pretty flat.

DSCN5600 DSCN5601

If I pin it in place


I can turn it over and see what it looks like.

DSCN5604 DSCN5603

That makes the center star somewhat distorted.   I think some people would not be able to stand it.    We quilters do get rather obsessed with perfection and live in fear of the judgment of the quilt police.

Is there a way to make it perfect?   I could take it apart and start over being careful on the bias and pressing and checking frequently as I go.   Starch is also a help on bias edges to prevent stretch.    The question is do I want to do that.    I could also take out the 6 seams that join the center star, essentially separating the top into 6 wedges.  Then press and block the pieces and trim to uniform sizes and then sew them back together.

I don’t mind the resulting wonky star in the center, I think it adds character and keeps all the work the original maker put into it intact .   It also addresses the issue of making the top flat so that it can be quilted.  I have not stitched the center yet, it is still pinned.   I want to be sure this is how I want to do it before I sew it.  Stay tuned to see what I end up doing.

I did a bit of hand quilting on the applique top to see how the quilting on the edges will look (click pictures to enlarge)

I have a lecture on Monday evening  and I am writing the lecture and selecting which quilts to bring. It is hard to decide because there is something to learn from every quilt (when I stop learning I think I will be done quilting).    If we had several hours I would bring them all!   I love to talk about quilts 😉

Happy Quilting


30 thoughts on “Perfection?

  1. Victoria says:

    And I love hearing you talk about quilts!!

  2. Kristen says:

    Beware the dreaded quilt volcano! A perfectly placid quilter, just piecing along, and the bias stretches, distorts….and erupts!

  3. Deb says:

    I really like the wonky look! It will be a neat quilt, with its own personal traits.

  4. Angela says:

    I like you approach with the old top. What if the person who pieced it did not quilt it because of the bump in the center? Maybe the piecer was discouraged by this and decided not to go any further, leaving the quilt unfinished. It has proved good for you, but wouldn’t have that person been happier with a finished imperfect but beautiful quilt instead of an unfinished imperfect top with no use? Of course, we are lucky that the piecer left this project unfinished, because now we can enjoy your process with it. So all is well.

    • timquilts says:

      Thank you…..I would imagine it was left unfinished because of the center, but I hope whoever made it would be happy that it will become a finished quilt….still pretty but “quirky”

  5. Rose in VT says:

    Have to admit the wonky pinned center bothered me for about a second, but I really like your idea of respecting the maker and leaving it as original as possible. Wish I could hear your lecture!

  6. katechiconi says:

    My star quilt is sitting quietly in a box. I stopped at halfway, as soon as I saw that the edges were becoming banana shaped despite all my care. You’ve given me food for thought with fixing. My motto has always been ‘finished is better than perfect’, but the degree of imperfection with this one was just too much. Now I can see that it doesn’t matter. I asked my husband if he’d mind if his quilt wasn’t quite perfect, and he looked at me as if I was mad. “You will have made it for me, it will be done, and I will love it” was the response. So I guess that tells me to get over myself, go open up that box, and finish the thing! Thank you for the inspiration to get it done…

  7. helen says:

    Hi, Tim! I like your approach to leave “the work the original maker put into it intact”! So, your solution is “perfect”!
    (Where is Teddy?? Gentle pat for him!)
    Best wishes!

  8. bermudagirl says:

    Tim, those vintage fabrics are amazing together, it would be such a waste not to quilt it, it looks like your pinning has made the best of the situation. Go for it!!

  9. Lorij says:

    If we all stop and think about it, none of us are perfect. We are made in God’s image but we all have flaws. At least in our own minds. This top is beautiful in its own way just as each of us are. What you are going to do with it will just give it, It’s OWN PERSONALITY! and leave the love and work the other person put into it still there. That shows the care you have for what you do. That within it self is special.

  10. Donna K says:

    Once again you have a solution. You are amazing Tim. I wish I could attend your lecture. Your love of quilting shows through what you write about and hearing you lecture would be icing on a cake.
    Break a leg!!! Well, you know what I mean……

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks donna…..I have changed my mind about which quilts to bring several times today…..quilts take up a lot of room so I have to limit myself…..this one will be mostly vintage and antique tops that I quilted, but I will include a few of my own new quilts as well

  11. Penny Spencer says:

    As I looked at the centre, I couldn’t help but imagine a quilt expert 100 years from now trying to work out how you made that star in the middle, trying to write instructions for others to make one the same!

  12. debby oldenburg says:

    thank you for saving the “essence of the maker. i have seen quilters completely redo older quilts to the point that nothing was left of the original quilters intentions. the days of everything hitting the standards of old time rules need to stop . i always think of the fun in the Ghees bend style of quilts-they may not hang straight but wow the designs are so great. quilters need to be able to make quilts that are original and not copies of all the kits, jelly roll and other pre-designed stuff on the market. i get tired of all the copies out there. i applaud you. ok american quilters make your own stuff out of your own stuff and lets try and be original in our selections. your quilts than will be joyful and be full of spirit.

  13. Chris Wells says:

    My impression on many things is this.” Perfection is a fault.” Your solution makes it unique. If the original quilter had looked at it this way it wouldn’t be available for you to finish. Bravo!


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