Dragon Princess Finished: Pride and Recriminations

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This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here.

I measured correctly. Each binding strip was long enough to go from one edge to the other. Even the top strip! Because this one was sewn on last, it had to enclose the raw edges at both sides. That meant it had to be a few inches longer in order to allow for the folded under material for the hems. It was! It was! Dragon Princess finished.

Success has not come easy with Dragon Princess so forgive me for my exuberance.

She is finished at last. Here is a picture of her fashion face and the back.

dragon princess finished notquilt

dragon princess finishedAs I said back at the beginning, I did not go back and cover over the cut-in-half-maidens with a wide piece of fabric, trying to disguise my mistake. I didn’t feel like it. Dragon Princess has enough flaws in her layout and design that what is one more? It helps to make her unique.

dragon princess finished

The backside of the quilt, showing the mitered corners.

Looking back at the process, I don’t know that I would have changed anything, since Dragon Princess’s flaws were baked in. I made my mistake right at the start when I chose to use those many yards of bright pink, huge motif fabric.

Being more careful with my layout would have corrected the issue of mismatched fabric on the back. As it turned out, I had just enough fabric left over to tell me that I could have railroaded the backing. The backside border of purple would have been several inches wider, but I could have worked around that problem. The fashion face border would have come out different as I would have had much less purple left over from finishing the back, but again, I would have worked around the issue, using something else from the stash.

The real issue with Dragon Princess was the fabric itself. Those huge anime maidens cavorting across the cloth was too large. This fabric was never intended to be cut up into anything smaller than a sleeve. It cried out to be displayed in all of its glory as the back of a shirt, a skirt panel, or a set of draperies.

When you buy fabric, it is easy to be seduced by the full scope of the design thrown across the cutting table. Cutting the fabric to turn it into something useful also cut up the bravura design, rendering it incomprehensible. This is why so much cloth sold in stores is of tiny prints. This is why so many ready-to-wear garments are made in solid colors and never in a print at all. It is too difficult for industry to economically cut out 100,000 dresses and make sure each dress shows off a large-scale print to its best advantage.

Home sewers can take advantage of large prints; we only have to cut out one or two dresses from a single piece of fabric, even if it leaves us with a pile of oddly shaped, oddly patterned scraps.

The other flaw inherent in Dragon Princess was me. I had bought the bolt of fabric, so long ago I don’t remember when. I only sewed two shirts out of it, and then she sat in the stash, waiting to be used. The problem again was her uniqueness. I could, I suppose, have sewed myself another scrub, a long-sleeved shirt, and a dress from this print, but Dragon Princess (the cloth) is so defiantly herself that they would have all looked the same; as if I was wearing the exact same piece of clothing instead of three separate ones.

Why did I buy so much? I can’t remember why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Since I did not use up all that Dragon Princess cloth on other things, I ended up with a huge piece of cloth that had to be used for something. I had already made all the drapes for the house so that possibility was out. Nobody wanted another shirt made of Dragon Princess. This cloth isn’t heavy enough to be turned into fabric grocery bags. What was I going to do with all that yardage?

Obviouisly, to turn Dragon Princess the cloth into Dragon Princess the NotQuilt. Obvious, easy, and wrong. Her scale was just too damn big for anything other than a quilt backing or maybe a few, carefully chosen patches. Anything else started looking weird quickly: a pair of bare feet, a huge blue eye, a hand.

It is all too late now. The second I started tearing strips for the front grid, it was too late. The initial purchase decision (all those yards, far more than I needed) was a mistake. Using that cloth so prominently on the fashion face was a mistake.

But the NotQuilt. Dragon Princess still functions for her intended purpose. I used up all that fabric. It is gone, no longer taunting me every time I look at it, asking me why I bought so much, and what am I going to do with it. The Dragon Princess NotQuilt was a terrific, if often painful, learning experience. She will be warm, she will hold together for years, and she can be repaired.

I will have to call this NotQuilt a draw. Functionally, Dragon Princess does everything she should. Aesthetically, well, that will be in the eye of the beholder. I hope the recipient likes her. Once the memory of making her fades, I might start liking her better.

NEXT WEEK: We’re starting Teresa’s next project: Grocery tote bags. It’ll be over at Peschelpress.com. We’ll put a link here to remind you, but we want to move all future book projects over on the official site. Hope to see you there!

Next Saturday: Tote bags!