If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time-Billy Joel

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My New Quilting Project- a long monologue full of drama and woes

Back at the end of October I saw  that Sharon Schamber's Gypsy quilt that she won 2nd place with at Houston in 2013 was on pre release sale so I bought it and eagerly awaited its arrival mid November (over 2 1/2  nearly 3 months ago). I am  usually very hesitant about such expensive designs these days unless I know I am definitely going to use them. The pre release price of $115 compared the $150 was a good buy I thought.

I purchased my fabrics and all the particular supplies such as  Liquid Stitch, a special glue nozzle, freezer paper etc. that were needed and decided last weekend that I might launch into making some of the blocks. I was very excited to start.

I decided to reduce the designs by 4% and that meant I could stitch them out on my Janome Horizon 12000. I also reduced my applique pieces by the same amount before I printed them out.

The centre of the quilt has 5 embroidered floral blocks with blocks 1-4 being stitched out twice. Block 5 is in the centre of the quilt  and then there are 4 full compass blocks as well as half and quarter compass blocks around the edge of the of the quilt before the borders are added.

This is my journey over the weekend and the last day or so. 
Step 1
 I went to the website and downloaded the updates to fix errors etc that have been picked up. The last update was made on the 12 December so thought everything was OK to start as all the issues should have been ironed out by now, the end of January. I hooped the  fabric, batting etc for my first block (Block 2 of the set), cut all my applique shapes out and started the embroidery machine using the full block jef file from the design set. I was able to stitch out the quilting design and that was beautiful so I was quite excited at this stage.

 The next step was placing the applique pieces but it was here I hit the first speed bump. The machine did not stop to lay down the appliqué and they are quite fiddly. Result, one ruined  block. I shot an email off to the digitiser and was told the machine should stop and was told by return email that perhaps I wasn't using my software or the designs correctly. I have stitched out hundreds of applique designs in the past, the most recent being the set of Aristocats from Hatched in Africa and they have all stopped to lay down the applique shapes without any special intervention from me. I tried again and it didn't work again as I was told it should so I decided to rescue the block by opening the exp format and then converting to jef as that format at least has different colour section for the stops in it. Off I went again and got one block done and I was pleased with the result.

Step 2
I decided I would then do the middle block, Block 5 as that block is very striking in the quilt. I decided to do mine bright pink instead of red. I got the block quilting all done and then started to lay down the applique pieces for the leaves using the Liquid Stitch. That went well. I moved onto stitching the outline of the leaves and they did not exist in 3/4 of the block, result another ruined block and another email sent.
By this stage I was feeling rather discouraged and extremely angry to say the least. The fix for that block came back later in the day and I stitched it out and it looks lovely.

Step 3
Thought I would then try Block 3 and all was going well until I broke 3 needles and the machine gobbled the quilt block. I then realised what was happening. Half the leaves were stitching out double and that resulted in very thick stitches and broke the needles. Again I sent an email but have not heard back so decided to delete the extra  double stitches myself in Embird and restitch the block.

Step 4
Block 4 was next on my list. Loaded it into my machine and noticed that it stitched for way longer than any of the other blocks without a lot of extra detail.. In fact on looking at the specs for the design it had approximately 30 000 more stitches than the two half blocks combined and that is taking into account the alignment stitches. So I have again come to a screaming halt on that block and waiting for the fix to come back. I could go in and fix it myself in Embird by combining the two halves etc but should I have to?
Step 5
I have stitched some of the sashings and the cornerstones so thought I would have a go at putting some together to get a feel for how it was going to look.

 Went looking for the pdf on how to construct the quilt particularly any hints on how to handle those tricky little curved seams,the stitched mitred borders etc but could not find one. After much sewing and ripping out and destroying a couple of sashing blocks I finally resorted to clipping the curves ferociously and after making one stitch on the machine, stopping and readjusting and repeating this procedure for 15 minutes have one sashing block attached. If I do one a day I may keep my sanity.

I am debating whether to put all of this in the garbage. I have yet to stitch out the compass blocks or start the borders and I may not do so. I have already wasted over $50 in fabric and supplies so a couple of hundred more is neither here nor there especially to preserve my sanity

These are my thoughts,please let me know if am I being unfair. 

  • Perhaps I am just way too inexperienced as a seamstress and embroiderer to be attempting a project like this 

  • It is 3 months in a little over a week since the design set was released and with the updates that had been provided up to last Saturday the designs would not have enabled you to stitch the quilt out satisfactorily.

  • Is it too much too ask that a design set of this price not have any errors

  • If I load a jef  or any other format file into my machine and it is an applique design I should expect it to automatically stop to lay down the  applique pieces. I should not be standing by the machine watching it stitch and manually stopping and starting it to achieve that.

  • Should we have to test sew each and every embroidery design we buy on scrap fabric to make sure they are correct.

  • Quilt shop fabric in Australia is $25 a metre and I can ill afford to have purchased expensive fabric to have it ruined by means other than user error. That I could deal with and cop it on the chin.

  • Perhaps it is now a case of once bitten twice shy


  1. Oh Vicki, how sad that you've spent so much on the pattern/kit for this to happen. I know nothing about machine embroidery, but like anything else we buy we expect it to be correct. Under Australian laws you could ask for a full refund, so ask for compensation for your extra expense and frustration!!! I would have thought that a kit from a well known designer would have had any problems sorted. Maybe you can do something else with the blocks you have completed..they do look lovely. Take care

  2. Like you, I am not impressed about such poor quality work being distributed. I personally would have thrown in the towel by now. You don't pay that kind of money for that level of stress.

    It would be interesting to know if it is just the JEF format that has these problems. Irrespective, it is totally unacceptable when you pay that much for a set. Sounds very like the digitiser did not do a full test run of all formats before putting on the market. You have every right to be upset and to ask for refund, or for all designs to be rechecked and new disk sent to you. Any company worth its salt would try and work with the customer to rectify the problem asap, as it already is heading for a major PR problem - Particularly for Sharon, who has put her stamp on it.
    Keep us posted on how your interaction with the company progresses. Hope you can find something else more cheerful to stitchout that will satisfy the creative soul.

  3. Hi Vicki, Sorry about what is happening - it looks as if it would be a beautiful quilt and by Sharon Schamber it should be fine. I would ask to be able to download it again as something could have happened in the downloading. Something like this happened to me with an Aussie Digitizer and she sent me a complete new file with apologies. That was fine. I would tell her to take a look at your Blog and show her how experienced you are at what you do. Good luck Yvonne

  4. You should send the designer and publisher a sales bill for the cost of the design, for testing the blocks that you have tried, the cost of fabric and thread, wear and tear for your machine and frustration. Be polite but firm, not that you will get everything you ask for, but you have spent a lot on money and something that has way too many errors. Good luck.

  5. do the above and then ask the company to take you on as their tester for a fee! Good luck1

  6. Vicki, I believe your concerns are well founded and should be remedied by the designer. If you are having this much difficulty there would be no hope for someone like me, with less experience, and without having a program like Embird. I hope you send a copy of your blog post to the designer, they should know how far and wide this kind of news will reach. Best of luck from Canada!

  7. I would stop stitching immediately. Wait until you see others have posted COMPLETED quilts that had no errors before proceeding. No matter what the cost, it is INEXCUSABLE for there to be so many errors that cost such waste of materials!

  8. Wow that is so unacceptable for you to be having so many problems. I would have been in tears and thrown the lot by now and I am only new to machine embroidery. Such a high cost for the designs one would expect that they have been stitched out in all formats and problems been fixed. I am sure Sharon Schamber would not be happy to have her name associated with such a faulty product. I would definitely ask for a refund as the product is definitely faulty. Good luck Vicki and please keep us up to date

  9. I agree with all of the above. I would also suggest leaving a review on the product site that the designs and instructions are not up to par so that others can be warned before they buy the designs.