My kids always give me a hard time when I join online sewing swaps. More often than not I wait until nearly the last minute to make something for my partner, which I readily admit, can be stressful. But I wait that long for one of two reasons - either I have other projects with more pressing deadlines and I’m busy finishing those, or I can’t quite figure out what to make for my partner and I’m waiting for inspiration to strike.
With this swap, though, I actually came up with the idea in plenty of time - it’s a version of a quilt I made last year for a friend. I thought it would really suit my partner so I used the same basic idea but made a few design changes.
I am super-duper-extra happy about how it came out! So happy that I’m now in the process of making an exact duplicate for myself to keep (like I have time for this! but I knew that if I didn’t do it immediately before I sent the first one off, I’d never make a second one).
So although this isn’t a commissioned project, it is something I made for a virtual stranger, who only gave me her basic preferences to go on. I think it came out so fun, right?
So onto the update on the commissioned flag quilt. I’m pushing through with making the remaining four red pieced panels for the flag stripes. I really, really thought I was done with them and was ready to move onto the white pieced panels. Going back to my sketch, I double checked the number I had to make, and couldn’t figure out why I needed so many more white than red panels.
Well, the reason the numbers were so different was because I miscounted the number of red sections, and I was four panels short.
UGH! This didn’t come as welcome news, especially because by this point I was really sick of staring at red fabric and was thrilled to move on to a different color (and I won’t even mention the haze of red thread and lint that’s covering every surface in my sewing room).
Sigh…I guess better to catch my mistake now rather than later, when I go to actually assemble the flag. That would have been horribly deflating.
In last week’s post I’d just made the first panel, and it took me many hours to make the second and third panels. So many hours that I was beginning to freak out a little bit, with visions of working day and night for weeks to finish this in time.
Those were not good visions.
So I called a friend and asked her advice on how to increase my efficiency. She didn’t have much to offer in the way of suggestions, other than to cut the initial building block pieces bigger, which would definitely help a little.
But mostly she talked me down off the ledge by assuring me that improvisational piecing takes time, in fact it takes a lot more time than traditional quilt piecing. It’s actually a pretty time intensive way to put together a quilt.
Which was reassuring but also disconcerting. I was glad that it wasn’t just me going about things the wrong way, but at the same time I really didn’t think I could finish the quilt and maintain my sanity if it was going to take this long. I started to panic a little more.
But somewhere around pieced panel number four I figured out a better system. I realized that if I assembled a bunch of various four-strip pieces, I could then use those to slice and dice and reassemble into my panels. It took the time to sew one pieced panel down from three hours to about one hour, which was a drastic improvement (considering I need 17 red panels and 15 white panels, even at an hour per panel, that’s a substantial amount of time).
So that was my big breakthrough this past week. I hope to finish up the red panels this weekend, and then get the white ones and the blue one done this week. Then I’ll move on to assembling and quilting the flag, which I think will take significantly less time than all this piecing.
That’s my hope, at least.
I’m keeping my quilting friends on speed dial, though, just in case I need another mid-project pep talk.
I suppose just as the original 13-star American flag quilt was not made exclusively by one person, this one will not be either, though only my hands will touch it. But through the magic of technology, my friends are guiding me through, offering virtual support and encouragement.
My, how times change, but some things really stay the same, don’t they?
In case you missed it: