Well, the surprise is over. The challenge is done and, as usual, it was really wonderful. Now, we can talk about choices and challenges. I love challenges; I think I have said that before. I have a couple of my own rules. First, I will only make something I dream up myself. Don’t ask me why, I just like to take the opportunity to make myself actually think about things. When I sit down to design something, I usually start with scraps of paper and move to eq7. Not with challenge quilts. For those, I develop a vague idea and start throwing fabric into blocks or pieces of blocks. This may seem a bit scatterbrained, but there you are, that is me! After I have made a number of pieces, sometimes a lot of pieces, I start getting an idea of how to put everything together…. I hope. This is where some choices come into play. Do I like what I have done? Is it possible to actually use what I have done? Do I want to continue? At what point did I lose the last brain cell? Believe me, I don’t take the last question too lightly.
At this point in the process, I have a thought on where I am going and the hard stuff comes in. I think of this as the bridgework, where I have to do the math and determine how to put the pieces together. This year, for instance, I had blocks of three different sizes and I wanted my stars to look like they were randomly thrown at a wall, so I had a couple of options. I could sit down and draw a complicated grid of odd size pieces to put together or I could assemble my blocks into larger blocks of a common size. I elected to go the latter route. This way, I only needed to cut some coping pieces of odd sizes and the final assembly was actually pretty straightforward. Now, what about the back.. Do I look through my stash for a large enough piece or buy something, or… This is an easy one and the answer is always the same. I end up looking at the leftover stuff I have from the front and decide to put it on the back. I don’t think about assembly. I just keep attaching leftover pieces together until it is big enough. I always like the result. This year, my husband actually likes my back better than my front. Ok, guys, I am talking about my quilt!
Then comes quilting, my personal fear and challenge. I’ve probably mentioned this, I am not good at the quilting part. I can’t see the straight lines nor can I sew the straight lines. My curves look more like the migration pattern for a dodo bird. Once a quilt is larger than a square foot, I feel like I am wrestling a bear. I have seen people cram large quilts through the throat of the sewing machine but I can’t seem to do it. I’ve thought about trying to do longarm quilting but then the whole mobility problem comes into play. I have to do it though, that is my second rule for challenges. I don’t know whether it’s a formal rule or not, but I feel like I should quilt my own in this case. I start with the obvious, quilt in the ditch. Oh-oh, I can’t seem to find the ditch with my needle. Ok, I quilt close to the edge of the pieces instead. Not bad, I can live with that! Next, I have to fill in all the blank space between objects, pieced stars this year. I start by ruling out all the cool patterns like concentric circles, stipples, flowers, scrolls, etc. Remember I have that dodo bird problem. Generally, I decide to do something pretty geometric with straight lines. Last year, I think I did a cross-hatch. This year, I had the brilliant idea, made the insane choice to do a few quilted stars to accent my pieced stars. So I went into Word and printed their four-pointed, five-pointed and six-pointed star shapes onto foundation paper, varied the sizes and started. Oh, yes, I started with a dozen printed stars for paper quilting (pin the paper on the quilt, sew the shape and remove the paper). Well, that filled up a very small part of one corner. It ended up taking me almost 300 stars to finish. I saw stars, I ate stars, I cursed stars, I never want to see another star. It was done though… Yay!!!
I hope you all enjoyed your process as much as I enjoyed mine. I hope you all enjoyed the challenge quilts as much as I did. I hope we do it all over again next year. I can’t wait.
See you at the meeting.