Or, I used to think I knew how to sew.
As faithful readers (all two of you) know, I quilt. Over the years I’ve mentioned various quilting projects – machine pieced, machine appliqued, hand applique, whatever – made from typical quilting cotton, denim, and flannel. Projects have ranged in size from hot pads to king size. I thought I did a fairly decent job.
I’ve also mentioned more than once that after the S.O. and I invested in a motorhome we began volunteering as campground hosts. We’ve been hosts at both state and national parks, with my favorite being the first place we volunteered: Montauk State Park in Missouri. Montauk is possibly the most popular park in the state system and is well-known for its trout fishing. The Current River is born at Montauk where the waters from Montauk Spring and a small stream meet. I love Montauk. It’s a great park.
A couple months ago the two things – quilting and Montauk – collided. The Missouri DNR has a centennial quilt project in progress. A friend who is the current assistant park supervisor asked if I was still a quilter. I said yes. She then asked if I’d make a block for the park for the centennial quilt. Of course I said yes to that too. I quilt. So she sent me the requirements: using only 100 percent cotton fabric, create an 8-inch square block with a theme that represented the park. It could be pieced, appliqued, embroidered, or a photo transfer. In retrospect, the last listed would have been the smart thing to do – hindsight is always 20/20.
In any case, I said yes. No sweat. One 8-inch block? Piece of cake. No problem. All I had to do was come up with an appropriate theme. My first thought was to do something with the Montauk Mill. It’s a nifty historic structure, and it would likely be different from what the other fish parks would do (Missouri has four or five parks that highlight fishing – Roaring River, Bennett Spring, and a couple others that I can never remember). If you’re know for fishing, you’re going to do a fish quilt block. Or so I reasoned until I happened across a really nifty design for a paper pieced rainbow trout. Holy wah. It was a neat block. Granted, it was a design for a 10-inch block, but, hey, what’s a photo copier for if not to produce reduced copies. I’d reduce it down to 80% of original size and that would be that.
Three or four or possibly five rejected trout and several weeks of my life later, I threw in the towel. The trout kept coming out looking more like an oddly colored orca. Even worse, the beast was assembled in modules (A through G) and when it got to the point where the modules were sewn into the final two units, they refused to align. According to the pattern, all the seams were perfect. According to the deformed not-exactly-square disaster on the ironing board, the block was a hot mess.
Made the mistake of trying to embroider Montauk in cursive above the mill, which is when I learned my embroidery skills (which used to be amazing) have definitely weakened with age. It was supposed to curve around and end in a fish hook. Now it just looks like someone misspelled Montauk. Still, despite my qualms about the embroidery, the block got shoved into an envelope and is now probably jammed in a USPS automated sorting machine somewhere multiple states away from here. Never again.