A small detour

I’ve said it before. I have a hard time saying no.

This time, I failed to say no to my neighbour, whose daughter is having a baby shower this coming weekend. You know what’s coming, don’t you? Yup. On Tuesday last week, the neighbour stood on my doorstep and asked if I’d make her a baby quilt. For a week on Saturday. She didn’t know what she wanted, she had no fabric, I could make what I liked for the baby girl.

You’ve heard that one before too, haven’t you? We went to my cupboard and pulled anything vaguely suitable. There was one baby-friendly fabric, a pattern of sheep on a white background. The sheep were shades of pale pink, mint, grey and orange sherbet. This was our fabric story. I had suitable fat quarters of everything except the orange sherbet shade, so I asked her to buy me enough in that colour to back the quilt, make sashing strips for front and back and bind it, and I’d make the blocks out of the other colours. At this point, the plan was to make and quilt each block individually.

Oh dear. The neighbour couldn’t get to the shops until Thursday… OK, I’d start making the blocks for the front. I made six by the end of Tuesday, and sent the neighbour a photo so she could see I was getting on with it. Silence. On Thursday morning, I got a text back to say she preferred the sheep print to all the other fabrics, she was going to buy more like it, sorry to be a pain. Oh… drat. I stopped sewing. On Thursday afternoon, she arrived with a paper bag, and tipped out the contents. Oh….dratter.

We had a selection of fat quarters in bright green, bright orange, bright purple, bright pink, pale grey with tiny white spots, brown, dark purple and a navy with massive dirty pink spots. We also had 5 baby prints, one of which was totally unusable, 3 of which were mostly bright primaries, and one which was just usable with the colour scheme we already had going. No orange sherbet. I asked about the orange. Apparently the lady in the shop had told her that the amount I’d requested was far too much (she’d know best, of course), and instead, she’d chosen a selection of alternative prints. So now I had nothing for backing, binding or sashing. I think my horror showed a bit, despite my best efforts.

I looked at the bright prints, at the bright orange and green, and decided I could make a back out of them. There was the usable baby print and the pale grey. I could just about use the bright pink for binding if I made the binding narrow. Everything else would have to go back. My work had just doubled, and I’d have to quilt the bloody thing all in one piece. Oh, and I had four appointments in the next 5 days, and we were going on holiday on the Thursday before she needed it, and I still had to pack the caravan. Nose down, bum up, get stitching.

I got it done and handed it over today. The quilting is not my best, but she doesn’t know the difference. Some of the seams don’t line up. She doesn’t care. She has a double-sided quilt in double-quick time. She’s a neighbour, I wanted to help, and I only asked for enough to replace my fabric and batting, so she got it for a very good price. She petted Mouse on the way out and asked if he was going on holiday with us. He is, of course, but she said “Oh, so I don’t need to baby sit him”. Not this time, my dear, but you owe me. Big time… Mwahahaha!

I don’t actually like it much, I had a much nicer and less bland and boring version in mind. So it doesn’t get a name, and I’m not too upset about the defects that I can see so easily. Sorry about the rather dark and hurried photos. They do at least give you an idea of what I’m talking about…

So that’s why it’s been very quiet on the blog for a few days.

63 thoughts on “A small detour

  1. Well done! You pack a lot in!

  2. rutigt says:

    Well done! I love the colors on the back 🙂 You do your best and no one can ask for more! i have promise my youngest niece a quilt and she likes yellow….my color…not LOL. I haven´t started on it yet, can´t figure out what color to go with the yellow fabrics!

  3. tialys says:

    It looks like two different quilts. I would never have put that back with that front – and neither would you I’m sure. It’s hard to work on something you’re not really keen on so I tend not to take on commissions unless somebody gives me creative rein, begs me and/or is willing to pay loads of money 🤑
    That woman in the shop had a cheek, I must say, to interfere with your fabric requirements. She can’t really have had a clear idea of what you had in mind and you were making the thing after all.
    Still, if your neighbour’s happy and, more importantly, willing to Mouse sit on occasion, it could all have been worth it.

    • katechiconi says:

      I would never have put that back on any quilt, but there you are. Some people love prints like that, but I am not one of them. But it was the only way I was gong to have enough fabric. I think the woman in the shop got hold of the wrong end of the stick and didn’t realise I needed it for backing and sashing and binding, she thought just sashing and binding. But yes, it was a bit cheeky. And you’re right about Mouse. And he likes this neighbour and actually asks for strokies from her instead of backing away!

  4. This sums up why I rarely take on commissions these days – “oh, I don’t mind what you do” they say… and then they really do and make you twice as much work. Well done on making something in the time available, though.

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly. I don’t usually do this for the very same reason, but she’s a neighbour, and seemed a bit fraught, and she’s been very helpful, so…. It was the change of direction that threw me; I’d have been quite happy if she’d bought what I needed and let me crack on with it.

  5. Steph says:

    I would call it the Good Deed quilt, as in “no good deed goes unpunished”!

    It looks very cute and cuddly though!

    • katechiconi says:

      Look, it’s a perfectly nice baby quilt, it’s just not the baby quilt I’d have liked to make if I’d had the choice of fabrics and timing 🙂 I shouldn’t be surprised that she had no idea of what was involved in making it; so many people don’t. And she did love it, and I’m sure her daughter will too…

  6. KerryCan says:

    You are TOO good and too nice! What a wonder–to put your own life on hold and deal with this. You’re a better woman than I am . . . .

    • katechiconi says:

      It *should* have been a much smaller job, but there you go. She’s happy. If I’ve learned one lesson it’s that if they say “Oh, you can do anything you like”, be prepared for making LOTS of changes!

  7. claire93 says:

    a real shame the fabric shop woman didn’t keep her ideas to herself!
    I like both sides of the finished quilt, (just not together lol) so baby will have a truly reversible quilt, in two very different styles & colourways!
    I tend to get roped in for “repair” jobs, with my neighbours and family members. And I agree to do them even though they are jobs I hate doing. Last job was for sister-in-law (or rather for my 15 year old handicapped niece) . . . SIL gave me a bag of about 30 wash cloths (flannels) and asked if I could use my Juki embroidery option to stitch name on all flannels as they keep on going missing at the boarding school.

    • katechiconi says:

      That sounds like a truly boring and unwelcome job! And I tend to agree about the woman in the shop, to the point where I’m tempted to go over there and ask them to keep their suggestions to themselves when the job is as simple as “buy 2.2 metres of pale orange cotton fabric”. Of course, she spent a lot more doing what they’d suggested, but now they’ll have to give her a refund!

    • Emmely says:

      There are really good name labels available these days. For my kids in daycare I use iron on labels whenever I can because it’s so quick to apply. Perhaps you can point your SIL in that direction when you get another embroidery request?
      (Kate, I hope you don’t mind my butting in.)

  8. kymlucas says:

    All I can say is you clearly are a much, MUCH nicer person than I am.

  9. Moira says:

    Well done, even tho the back and quilting are not at all what you would have chosen to do. And yeah for the neighbor being happy with it.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m trying to view it as one of those things that emphasises how much more I enjoy working with colours and fabrics I choose myself, rather than as a fairly dull quilt that could have been so much nicer.

  10. kathyreeves says:

    Well done, making something nice out of a mishmash, and keeping your lip zipped when it would have been so easy to just hand it all back!

  11. I was feeling stress in my chest just reading this. Crikey! Maybe you need a contract signed before agreeing to custom work saying you have artistic override.

    • katechiconi says:

      This is really why I don’t do projects like this normally. In a longer time frame, I’d have sat her down, talked about colours, explained the benefit of different colour values, talked about her expectations and mine, and I’d have bought all the fabrics. But with only 9 days to make it and other commitments in between, I had to make the best of it. It does make a good cautionary tale, though, doesn’t it?

  12. Ah the unable to say no artist meets the unable to appreciate what is really required customer……. Result chaos! I have a sneaking suspicion the shop lady was led up the garden path by your neighbour. I may be wrong, but if you ask for a quilt to be made three weeks before an event you clearly know nothing of the work required. Chalk that up to experience Kate 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Three weeks nothing! It was 9 days… And yes, I’m sure the neighbour would not have been clear about what I wanted, but she had one job, and that was to buy 2.2m of pale orange. How the lady in the shop thought the collection she came back with would be a suitable replacement, I cannot imagine. A phone call while she was there would have sorted it all out, and if she couldn’t find the right colour, then pale grey or mint would have done the job nicely too. Never again…

  13. magpiesue says:

    I wondered what was keeping you so quiet. Now I know! I feel your pain but admire your perseverance and restraint. I suspect nearly all of us have “been there, done that.” You’re right to just chalk it up to experience and move on.

  14. nanacathy2 says:

    Oh my, you really are a hero, and at least you are now owed one great big fat favour from your neighbour. Your story has made me smile too, because of what happened to me this weekend, when I finally gifted the hungry caterpillar quilt to toddler J . It was much admired by Mum, Dad and brother, my grandson Master H. I wish you would make me another blanket Nana says, H you make lovely blankets( query what has happened to them then?) anyway, next breathe Nana please could you make me a quilt, an Oxford United Quilt? What? I’m really not very good yet H I said, oh yes you are says the family, you could sell these, no I couldn’t they are not good enough…..
    What have I started and how on earth does one make an Oxford United quilt?

  15. Dayphoto says:

    You are an excellent neighbor and wonderful friend. Well done!

  16. Emmely says:

    Oh my, what a story… I would’ve been super annoyed by the change of plans.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yup, super-annoyed does sum it up, but you can’t be on bad terms with your neighbours so I had to make the best of it…

      • Emmely says:

        “My prices start at 500 euro and then I haven’t done anything yet. Yes, also if you just want your trousers hemmed. If you think it’s too expensive you are more than welcome to take them to a tailor.” This is how I discourage familymembers when they come with boring sewing tasks I really don’t want to do.

      • katechiconi says:

        I’d tell them they could buy their own sewing machine for the same price as I’d charge them for the work!

      • Emmely says:

        That’s also a good one! I’ve also offered to show them how to do it so they can do it themselves next time. Usually not met with great enthousiasm though.

      • katechiconi says:

        No, always much easier to get someone else to do it for you! Except if you can sew, and then if someone else does it, it’s never quite right!

  17. Ouch. My head hurts. Still, you’ve done a good job with with it all. And it’s a lovely gift that I’m sure will be well loved, used and treasured.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s one of those scenarios where the bloopers keep mounting up. If she’d gone shopping first and come to me with all the novelty prints and bright colours, I’d have been OK with it, because it was at least her choice, but to agree a colour scheme and then allow a total stranger to talk you into something that absolutely doesn’t work with it… well, it’s done. And I folded it up nicely and tied a ribbon round it and made a little bundle of all the leftovers ‘in case repairs are ever needed’ rather than ‘I don’t want any of these in my cupboard, thank you!’.

  18. anne54 says:

    The ongoing issue is that the experience will have altered your relationship with your neighbour, even if it is in the smallest way. Being a good neighbour is tricky, and is a quite different relationship to friends or family. It seems to me that she overstepped the boundary of being a good neighbour by asking, with such a ridiculous time frame frame, in the first place. I think you were being a good neighbour, as uppermost in your mind was not rocking the neighbourhood boat.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve found that 90% of people who don’t sew in any way have zero idea of how long things take to make. So while it was a ridiculous timeline, and she did say she knew it was short notice, I’m not altogether surprised. And she was very appreciative when it was done. The overall effect is that she’s made me a little wary of doing her any favours, whilst she now owes me a big one. Not altogether a dead loss!

  19. You have made her happy and that’s what matters. 😍

  20. Well, you are a very good neighbor to help in such short notice. I laughed a few times while reading because I felt your, um…. Can’t find a word… I am waiting for my neighbor to ask if I can make a quilt for them. My answer would be very easy since I don’t sew. 🙂

  21. What a saga! I am really glad I stick to making things for myself or as gifts. Being a good neighbour is tricky and I think we all sometimes do things we would prefer not to in order to keep the community working.

    • katechiconi says:

      She seemed so fraught, I wanted to help… Mistake… Next time I’ll politely say I have a deadline I can’t miss. Or suggest the baby won’t notice and how about giving it as a first birthday present?

  22. Joanne S says:

    Wow. Just…wow! You are a good, kind person. You are right: non-quilters have absolutely no idea the time, creative and physically effort, or cost that goes into creating a quilt. This is why I stopped sewing for commission. Now, if I want, I give a quilt away.

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