Week in Review 2021 – 02/26

Fiddly Bits

Here I am, once more, dealing with fiddly bits. This is never my intention. Yet it seems I can’t resist pushing just one step further. Then bam! I am bogged down in some process which requires inordinate patience to even come close to what my goal is. Am I a perfectionist? I don’t believe so. I’m perfectly content with close enough. Still… is it close enough if poor craftsmanship feels glaringly obvious?

The four wing sections are affixed to the inner armature. I still need to attach the body and steam it into 3D shape.

My goal is to create several 3D butterflies to appear to be emerging or at least alighting on Out of the Ashes. Last week I shared my prototype. What I didn’t share is how awkward and fussy it felt turning the wings right side out, smoothing the curves and stitching the final section of the seam closed. I reassured myself that it would get easier with practice. Perhaps if I made 100 or 1,000 butterflies it would. Three butterflies in and they seem to take 10 times the amount of time to make than I believe they should. Dealing with fiddly bits is quite the slog.

Slogging away

A little more hand stitching is required to correctly line up the wing sections and then add the body.

Not all is doom and gloom. One part of this project is working brilliantly. This is how I plan to attach the butterflies to the quilt. My goal is to be able to easily attach and remove them. Velcro was the obvious answer. But, and it is a very big BUT, the issue is this would leave a strip of velcro visible on the quilt when the butterfly is detached. Yuck! Out of the blue, I thought magnets. It works. I am over joyed, thrilled, ecstatic…


This is the prototype 3D butterfly from last week. The photo is shot with the piece pinned to a design wall. There is a magnet on the backside of the mini quilt and another, corresponding magnet secured to the underside of the butterfly. I can hold the piece upside down, wave it gently and the butterfly stays in place.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. Once a quilter goes off the pattern path to develop her own designs, the phrase “problem solver” gets added to the job description.

    1. …Which is precisely what draws me to the medium. There is something so satisfying about conquering a hurdle. Of course, when you are immersed in the problem solving and nothing seems to work, it is another story.

  2. How brilliant to use magnets. I love the tiny super strong ones. I have used them to keep a scarf in place, instead of pinning and I can see how perfect they would be for your butterflies.

    1. Precisely the kind of magnet I’m using. It is small, perhaps 3/8″ in diameter magnet. This way I can lay the quilt flat or roll it for shipping.

      I wish I could get the hang of wearing scarfs. Never thought of using magnets to hold them in position. Love that idea.

  3. I love your 3D butterflies. I often find myself drawn into fiddly things too but many times that’s just the thing that takes a project to the next level. Can’t wait to see your finished piece.

  4. I love the idea of the magnets! Have you ever tried Terial Magic, Gwyneth? It was developed for stiffening fabric for three-dimensional crafts like fabric flowers and other sculptural projects where the stiffening agent is intended to remain permanently. I believe you can give your fabric almost a paperlike quality with that product if you wanted to, and that you would not need to turn it out after stitching. So you could do a decorative stitch embellishment or blanket stitch along the raw edge if you wanted to, or even craft your butterflies out of single-layered, stiffened fabric without having to worry about fraying edges. Even if you didn’t use it with this project, it might be something you could experiment with for future possibilities.

    1. Not sure why I didn’t think of Terial Magic. I just happen to have some sitting around. Excellent suggestion to bear in mind for a future project when I need to ‘sculpt” fabric or lace. It would certainly have allowed me to do some thread painting. I might be insane enough to give it a go and scrap the current butterflies or at least see which I prefer. Thanks for the idea.

  5. I’ve often said “I don’t *do* ‘fiddly'” — and then, this week, I did just that! I don’t make small pouches/bags for odds-and-ends. I don’t make Xmas ornaments. I wouldn’t attempt your butterflies! But…if it suits one’s vision (as the butterflies suit yours), one keeps at it, right? I applaud you for seeing your vision through! (Alternatively, methinks, if one tries more than 3-4 times and *nothing* works, then the vision bears rethinking!)

    1. I don’t do fiddly either, Margaret. It never occurred to me these butterflies would be as fiddly as they are. The silver lining is because of this self imposed “torture” I am improving my technique with each successive butterfly. Fingers crossed, the next time I find myself here, it won’t be so daunting. I can still recall how fiddly FMQ felt during my early attempts. Now I look forward to it.

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