Quilt-Along Update #2 or 3, depending on how you count

In our last episode, I left off with STEP 3 of the process and a big pile of pieces that needed to be assembled into squares.


Today, I took the piles of other fabrics and sewed them into more squares like the ones above. Then they were all pressed. There are 16 different combinations of pieced squares. You can see 15 of them here.



Now, it’s time to take to of the blocks above and sew them to solid pieces of fabric of the same size. Here is another picture, this time with the solid blocks that will be joined the pieced squares.


I then took the squares (pieced and solid) and sorted them by color. Each pair of matching pieced squares was grouped with a pair of matching solid squares. I ended up with 32 piles of four squares, each pile having 2 pieced squares and 2 solid squares.


It is time to take one of those piles of four pieces and arrange them into a new, larger square as seen below. Since I had already done the sorting by color, the example below is from the pink fabrics, but the same principle will be followed with all four colors as the sewing continues. You will notice that the square in the lower right corner has already been sewn. Over the next couple of days weeks, the rest of them will be sewn and pressed.


What’s Next?

After today, I have to get back to the real world. (Well, I have still been working, but because of not having to teach, I’ve been able to snitch a few extra hours for this project.) Starting tomorrow, I will only have an hour here and there to work on it, so it will take a while to assemble the rest of the squares. The good news is that with all of these sets of four squares sorted and organized into piles on my sewing table, I should be able to make progress. I think it will be possible to assemble several in an hour if all goes well. Of course, I’ll allow for surprises in that department.

I have enough pieced and solid squares to make 8 of the larger squares in each of the four colors–green, pink, green, blue–for a total of 32 squares. Then I’ll move on to constructing the next type of block, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I can’t say how amazed I am at the progress I’ve made on this project. I still had other projects and deadlines to juggle during this quilt start-up. The quilt-along is definitely a big part of my success, as is setting the intention to do this, and to persevere even when it seemed like my time might be better spent elsewhere. But the fact remains, I have a major start on a quilt, one that’s been sitting in the “dream” stage for over five years. I may not have made it through the 20 block goal set on the quilt-along schedule, but I have everything set up to get those blocks done. Momentum has been built.


Further, I must say that I feel good about the things I’ve done that were for me: the blog, the quilt, and the exercise program. Even though they all take time, the important things haven’t really suffered, because I am energized by doing the things that are meaningful to me. If I had pushed myself to “work” instead of nourishing my creative self, I don’t think I would have gotten as much done. Time spent on rejuvenating my spirit is an aspect of self-care that I have too often been willing to give up for the sake of others. It’s not news, but I am finally experiencing how taking care of myself provides the necessary resources to be truly present in all aspects of my life.

These past few weeks have been an unplanned adventure. I’ve ended up in a place I didn’t expect to be. In a way, it seems like when I take time for myself, the “feeling” of time expands, even if time itself does not. I feel like I have more time than I’ve ever had, and I’m doing more than I was a few months ago. The difference is that the added things are not a burden–they are a joy. Taking time for me has taken me down a path where I feel like I may be more in balance than I’ve ever been. I’ve weathered challenges to my intentions, but I’ve persevered. I look forward to the days ahead in a way that is new to me, a way that I like. I intend to continue on this path and see where it leads.

557 days to 60!

Tuesday Quilting Fun

I got a later start than I would have liked, but I didn’t let it stop me from starting the sewing on my quilt-along project. I didn’t realize it while I was cutting last week, but it’s possible I only cut half of the fabric I needed, so this will present a tiny bit of a design challenge, but not one I am afraid of. Nor one that will stop me from continuing the project. I just have to finish sewing the three steps you see in this post, and then check the number of pieces I have.

Here’s a recap of what I did today to get started on the quilt for Kate.


I had nearly 30 long strips of fabric, 2 inches by 22 inches. The first step is to pair them up, either to coordinate by color or to contrast, based on light and dark. Each pair of strips is then is sewn together along the long edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The combined strips are then pressed with the seam allowance to one side. On the left is the first one I pressed. Below, you can some of the other paired pieces that were sewn. I like the wide array of bright color and pattern combinations.


Step 2:

Each paired strip is cut into eight cross-wise pieces. That’s lots of little pieces. You can see one piece cut into the eight pieces in the top half of the next photo. As you can see, you rotate some of these cut pieces to make a mini four-patch block, as seen in Step 3 . OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Step 3:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter flipping four of the eight pieces for each strip, the pieces are sewn together, as shown in the bottom half of the photo above. It looks cool when you have one done, like this one. As you can see, I have a veritable mountain of these little pieces to sew together before I can move to the next step.

What’s Next?

I might get a few more done tonight, but most of them will wait for another quilting day. That’s good, because after I sew and press all of them, I will have a sense of how many more blocks I need before going onto step 4. If I do need to cut more, doing that cutting before I proceed to the next step will let me resolve the design issues I was concerned about at the beginning of the post.

Also, in the good news department: Since I’ve only had this machine since my second year in Taiwan, and since I don’t didn’t use it that much until this project, I am not very familiar with threading it. At one point today, I needed to thread the machine and was somewhat concerned that it might mean I would have to stop for today. But I located the manual, both of them–the Chinese version and the English one, and was able to thread the machine with minimal muss and fuss. There was a tip in the directions I had missed in the past, and this time, it was much easier to do. Now, I’m thinking I won’t stress when the bobbin needs rewinding either.

So I didn’t get as far as I would have liked today, but I am so much farther than I would have been if I had put this project off entirely. I am amazed at how setting aside a few hours here and there helps this project come to life. It doesn’t take huge chunks of time to make progress. It only takes the intention to do some and some perseverance.

559 days to 60!

Quilt-along Update #1

fabric before cutting

fabric before cutting

I’m thrilled to be starting on the quilt for my daughter. After all this time of scheming and dreaming, it’s great to be able to actually cut into the fabric and begin the process of piecing a quilt. This quilt-along came along at the right time. At a point where I’m intentionally taking time for me, I just finished the 31-day blog challenge and am now moving to this quilt-along. (I also did my first work-out at Curves today!)

For those of you who may not understand what a quilt-along is, let me explain. In a quilt-along, a group of people are all working on a quilting project of their own, but they do it in a group, completing the tasks as a group. Sometimes, people meet in person to do this kind of project with everyone working on their projects.

This particular quilt-along is on-line, which means that the instructions and list of tasks come through email. Our host for the quilt-along is Rachel of StitchedInColor. The first post, for example, was a schedule that gives an overview of the whole process, from gathering the materials (October 17) to showing off photos of the finished quilts on a website that everyone joins (December 20). Then, each of the following emails includes the information and instructions that we need to move along through each step. In between these emails, the participants do the work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the email that told us about the materials we needed to gather, we gathered and prepared the actual fabric after deciding on color schemes. The directions for cutting the fabric into strips and squares arrived on October 31, a nice treat for Halloween. Two days later, we received the instructions on how to piece the 4-penny patch, the block that we are using for this quilt. Now the schedule calls for sewing 20 of those 4-penny patch blocks each week, starting tomorrow!

I have never documented one of my quilting projects before, but my husband is taking pictures as we go, and I will include them in my updates. Since the sewing starts tomorrow, I thought I’d show you all the strips and squares I’ve cut over the weekend. The two lighter fabrics at the top of the photo were cut today, so everything is ready. My sewing machine has been pulled out of storage and space has been cleared on the table for me to work toward assembling my 20 blocks for this week. If things go smoothly, I hope to exceed that. I’ll keep you posted.

The Little Quilt That Could

First 5 blocks

(Photo credit: Purple Panda Quilts)

Over the summer, I made it my intention to get back into quilting. I could start right with my daughter’s quilt,  a project for which I’ve been collecting fabric for several years. But I had decided that the best way to tackle that project was to practice the quilt-as-you-go process which allows you to put the batting and the quilting stitches in while you’re putting the block together. That way, the project is worked in sections, and then the pre-quilted sections are all joined together in the final step. So before I started my daughter’s quilt, I wanted to find a small project, an interesting block or two that I could practice the technique on and then move on to the larger project.

When I came to this conclusion, I was still in the US, with my return to Taiwan only a few weeks away. I took aadvantage of that time to look at patterns, browse a few quilting books, and visit a couple of quilt shops in anticipation of my return to quilting. I was looking for just the right small project for my practice work. I didn’t know what it would be, but I was sure I’d know it when I saw it.

August_09_CoffeeMug_largeWell, it showed up in a rather routine place. I have a subscription to a quilt of the block day email. Usually three or four times a month, something comes that I actually save to my design software. Other times, I barely give them a second glance. For example, if the block is some version of a flower, a boat, a lighthouse, or a basket, you can be pretty sure that I’ll just delete the email.) But on August 9th, a great block featuring a coffee cup was the Block of the Day. As many people know, coffee is one of the things I love almost as much as quilting. I was excited.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an interesting turn of events, someone expressed an interest in the coffee cup project, and it has grown into a bigger project. The awesome part is that not only will I get some practice with this process, but one of my quilts will eventually hang on display in a coffee shop in Taiwan. I’ll tell you more about that another time, but today, I want to show you how this coffee mug block has turned into a plan for a quilt with 3 rows of 5 blocks. When it’s finished, it will look something like this.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe coffee mugs themselves will all be made of different fabrics. But the rest of the quilt will be made with the fabrics below. You should note that the light green squares in the picture above will be replaced by the lavender fabric (although it looks a little blue in the picture).





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are interested in seeing the fabrics that are being planned for the eight coffee mugs that will be in this wall hanging, here they are!

Good news! We have a four-day weekend coming up, and I am going to use one of those days for quilting. I plan to do a lot of cutting and organizing, and with any luck, start piecing things together. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready, and all the things on my to-do list will wait, while I have a day of quilting. I will post pictures as this project takes shape.


592 days to 60!