Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pick Six

Every year in January, I make some sort of New Year's Resolution about my quilts.  It always involves finishing more, being more focused, having fewer UFOs, etc.  And just like all the diet and exercise programs with all the good intentions, it fails.
I'm trying again this year, and so far it seems to actually be working.  I call my system "Pick Six".
I'm not sure I should say "my" system.  I overheard someone at a workshop describing something similar, and I just tweaked it a little.  I'm sure other people have done similar things.
Here's how it works:  I chose six projects from all the vast array that I have in my basement cave of wonders.  I tried to choose projects that were in different stages, so I'd have a variety.  Once these are chosen, these are the only projects I'm allowed to work on.  I can work on any of these projects, in any order, at any time.  These projects stay on the list until they are completed--quilted and bound.  When a project is finished, I can choose another one to take its place.
I decided to make a couple of exceptions.  If I need leaders and enders while piecing one of the six, and none of the other five projects is at that stage, I can use a charity project, and only a charity project, for that.  But then the charity project goes on the list as soon as there is an opening, and it gets finished too.
I will also allow myself to choose a project not on the list if I am going to a retreat.  Since many of my projects get stuck at the quilting stage, and I don't want to lug my quilting treadle to a retreat, I'm going to make this exception.  I don't go on too many retreats, anyway.
I started this system right after Thanksgiving.  In that time, I have finished a full sized quilt for my grandson Henry (no pictures yet, it's on his bed), the wool quilt mentioned here, the Debbie's Challenge quilt, and five baby quilts for charity.  This is actually working!
I don't know how long I'll stay on this.  But for now, it's actually keeping me from setting aside a project when I finish the blocks or the top.
Here are my current six projects:

No. 1:  Solomon's Puzzle  (I don't call it Drunkard's Path because my great grandmother didn't allow alcohol in the house.  I don't think she would have wanted the quilt to have that name.)
I'm hand quilting a top my great grandmother made in the late 1960s (she died in 1969).  I have been working on it off and on for years.  I hope this time I'll get it done.  At this point, I have half the blocks quilted.  I like to work on it in the afternoons, in this (sometimes) sunny window.

No. 2: Ocean Waves.  The top is finished, I need to prepare a backing, layer it, and quilt it.  I'm planning on quilting a grid (I think).  Debbie helped me choose the fabrics for the borders.  I would add a red border, but I don't have enough to both border it and bind it, so I'm saving the red for the binding.

No. 3:  Dutchman's Puzzle
I made these blocks with the Accuquilt cutter from 1930s reproduction fabrics.  They were just a set of blocks when I put them on the list.  I have been doing quilt-as-you-go on this, but I stopped when I ran out of the blue fabric.  I had enough (barely) for the sashings between the rows, but I wanted the first border to match the sashings.  I looked all over the place for it and couldn't find a match.  I was about to give up, when last Saturday I found it!  It was a Moda blue I had bought at J. J. Stitches in Sun Prairie.  I bought 3 more yards.  I probably don't need near that much, but I really hated not having enough, so now I have lots.  (Like Scarlett O'Hara, I will never go hungry (for this blue) again!)  All of the rest of the quilt is quilted, so I just need to add the borders and quilt them and bind it.

No. 4:  Tumbler Twin Quilt
This is another quilt I cut with the Accuquilt cutter.  The fabrics are late 19th Century reproductions.  I cut the pieces several years ago, when I first got the cutter, and sewed a few rows together, but it had been languishing in a bin.  I pulled it out to use for leaders and enders, and finished piecing the rows.  It still needs to have the borders added.  They are already cut and pieced, ready to go on.  Because the edge is uneven, I will be sewing the rows carefully along the sides and then cutting the edge straight.  I prefer doing that to cutting the edge first, since I don't want to stretch it.  The quilting should be relatively simple, just either side of the seams.  I'll use Warm and Natural batting, which will give it an antique look but won't require especially close quilting.

No. 5:  Basket of Chips
I had lot of triangles left over from making the Ocean Waves quilt (and before that, from another quilt I may mention someday), so I started making these baskets.  I used pre-cut fabrics from my scrap bins for the backgrounds and basket pieces.  The pink setting fabric is a Mary Koval print.  I bought 2 yards at Quilt Expo for $5 per yard.  I can't believe I hesitated for a second on that purchase, her fabrics are so amazing.  I hardly had any scraps of it left after setting the quilt top together.
I'm also using up my indigo reproduction fabrics as the top and bottom borders.  Right now, I think I just won't add any side borders.  The pieced section of the quilt is square.  I slept under a square quilt as a kid and it was a pain.   I'd rather make a rectangular quilt.  My thought is now to just bind the quilt with miscellaneous strips of indigo blues.  But first I have to quilt it!  Maybe diagonal rows?

No. 6:  Civil War Style Potholder Quilt
This is the newest, and the oldest, project on the list.  I am making 9 patch blocks from old fabric.  Most of the fabrics are from the late 19th century, so are over 100 years old.  I am sewing them on my Willcox and Gibbs handcrank sewing machine, which you can see in the background.  It is a wonderful little machine, and this is the first time I've made anything with it.  It's a chainstitch machine, no bobbin, and this is a real experiment for me. 
I sewed 42 of the 9 patch blocks last weekend, at a wonderful weekend retreat with my friend Debbie (more to come on that!)  We watched Downton Abbey on DVD while sewing.  I will always associate this quilt with Downton Abbey.  Even with such a simple project, I still got interested in the story and made mistakes.  I can't wait to see the rest of it!  We got through the first season and half of the second. 
These blocks will be quilted and bound separately, just like potholders, and then hand sewn together.  I saw an exhibit of Civil War quilts like this at the New England Quilt Museum summer before last, and have been thinking of it ever since.  When the book came out, I had to have it.
I'll post more on this particular quilt soon, since it's so different.
That's the list!  And posting it here will help me stay on target!  What are you working on?


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