TAST Week 2: Not what I imagined

Wait… It’s Tuesday already? We had such a busy weekend, I completely forgot to post our TAST stitching for last week! TAST Week 2 was the buttonhole or blanket stitch, and it is a stitch that both B and I were already familiar with.

B added to her hooped sampler in a cheeful red, and she tried her hand at a buttonhole wheel, since she had never stitched a wheel before.

You’ll notice she didn’t finish it. After she got about half way around the circle, she announced that there were far easier ways to stitch a circle, and that stitching a wheel out of buttonhole stitch was… well… boring. With a buttonhole wheel, the middle gets all filled up with spokes, you see. But if you just do a regular circle out of backstitch, why, then you can put anything in the middle. Anything at all. Even little itty bitty fly stitches like you learned how to do last week. See?

I did see, and inside I was laughing, because I had been staring glumly at my crazy quilt block and wondering just where, exactly, I should put some boring old buttonhole wheels or waves or something. They do have their place, and can be quite lovely when done well, but I am afraid I rather agree with Miss B… buttonhole stitch is boring.

I pondered using it as a base for a more complicated seam, or using it to couch down a fancy yarn or trim, but it didn’t seem to suit the needs of the block. I even pondered just edging the block in buttonhole stitch, just to say it was done.

Instead, I spent about an hour browsing through the comments on the TAST site and looking at what everyone else had done. There are some marvelously talented individuals participating in TAST, and inspire me it did. I decided to do the wind in streams of tightly spaced buttonhole stitches placed back to back with a rather serpentine edge, similar to how one participant created long spirals of fly stitch for a tunic.

Here’s the result:

I started along one small seam and I liked how it was looking, but as I continued it further across the block, I felt frustrated. It was too heavy, not delicate like the wind. It was wrong. I tried a second seam, this one not anchored to a seam but floating through the air, and it was wrong, too.

I generally don’t rip things out when I’m trying to be creative. Instead, I usually try to go with it and turn it into something better.

This time, I ripped.

I ripped all but one section of seam out and replaced it with a simple running stitch in three shades of blue. Light, delicate, and airy-feeling, they float across the block not unlike a breath of air, carrying the dragonfly along as they go until it feels like he is destined to visit a while with the butterfly.

Fanciful? Maybe.

Beautiful buttonhole stitching? Definitely not. It didn’t turn out how I had initially imagined it, but I like it.

More importantly, B and I both discovered that the buttonhole stitch, while useful and practical and oh-so-pretty for binding the edge of a handmade Christmas stocking, well, it apparently just wasn’t for us this week.

I think if I had been working a straight sampler instead of trying to integrate the stitch into a block which had its own opinions, I would have come up with a dozen ways to use the buttonhole stitch and I would have been satisfied. I could even have picked a seam at random on this block and probably have managed to make something pretty out of a buttonhole stitched seam. I could also have chosen to sprinkle little buttonhole wheel flowers around the grassy area at the bottom of the block. I may still do that.

But whatever else happens, this week both B and I remembered that it is okay to discover that something you thought would be wonderful just isn’t quite what you imagined. Mistakes are where the learning happens, after all.

We must be very, very good at learning.



4 thoughts on “TAST Week 2: Not what I imagined

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggled with the buttonhole stitch. I had to give up on it last week because I was just ripping so many stitches out. I’m hoping I never have to use the stitch on anything off the sampler!


    1. You definitely aren’t alone! I love using it for edging things — it is very easy to work over the edge of a thick woolen felted blanket, or to seam up the edges of a Christmas stocking. It can look quite pretty anchoring other stitches – I’ve seen some pretty crazy quilt seams out there. I’m glad to know it’s not just me who struggles with it — I just can’t get it even and orderly looking on fabric unless I’m working with Aida cloth, and then I get annoyed at its raggedyness, and then I rip it out and get annoyed at the holes left in the fabric… it just wasn’t worth it for this project LOL.


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