Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 -- A slow start

It's March 1, 2013 and I've only finished one UFQ to date . . . . I got off to such a great start, I was sure I'd be farther than this by now.  It's a good insight into how unappealing our UFQ's become, isn't it.  It's not that I'm not actively working -- I've finished four other quilted projects and am ready to bind a fifth, but they are all current. 

As I work to eliminate UFQ's from my burgeoning stash, my favorite strategy seems to be repurposing or redesigning a project.  The one I just finished is a good example.  I'll bet some of you out there have the Quilted Village Block of the Month patterns in your stash -- there are 12 and the buildings featured in each block can be appliqued or paper-pieced -- good marketing strategy!!

I was charmed by it, convinced a dozen or so customers to be equally charmed so I could buy it for the shop, and promptly filed it in the "to-be-made" piles (during the last century).  But I did eventually get all the blocks paper-pieced . . . . okay, so I didn't actually do it myself -- eleven (un)willing friends each made one of them for me (but I picked out all the fabrics!)  Over the past 10 years, I would get it out ever now and then and finish some of the embroidery and applique details on a block or two.  And I did piece the BIG central unit. 

Well, this was the first UFQ project I tackled this year.  I did the last of the embroidery and applique detail work -- all right, I didn't do the embroidered birds -- too little!!

Now all that was left to do was set everything together and quilt it!!  But when I put it on the work wall I decided I didn't like the central unit -- it was too dark or something.  So I could rework it . . . maybe.   And then I realized, I didn't really care for looking at upside down and sideways buildings. 

And this is my finished result!!  The rows of blocks are in the same order as the original quilt, so I didn't have to make any "design" decisions there. 

I didn't have to remake the central unit (it went into the charity quilt box of "starter" stuff).

I found a perfect sashing fabric in my stash that looks like cobblestones.

I needed to move through the quilting process smoothly so after several days of contemplation, I decided to use an overall quilting approach rather than outlining all the details -- I knew that would get "old" fast and I'd get bogged down.  So I auditioned three different thread colors -- an alabaster variegated that blended into the background but stood out on the buildings, a light tan variegated that showed up on both the background and the buildings, and a brown variegated that showed up on the background but blended into the buildings.  If you unwind a yard or so of thread across the surface of the quilt, you get an idea of how it will look stitched out.  In the end, I chose the tan combination because the colors didn't stand out too much anywhere on the piece. 

I think the way the trees are designed, it looks like spring, so I practiced quilting "wind" blowing across the quilt.  And then I went at it!!  Five days later, I entered in my "progress" journal that the piece was ready to bind.  I limit my work time at the machine when quilting to about an hour at a time -- old shoulders, you know.

Since I didn't add an outer border, I chose a medium brown fabric as the binding to frame it.  I even put a casing on the back right away!!  And now it's hanging in my dining room.  And I like it so much!!  Why didn't I finish it 10 years ago.  Well, I refuse to feel guilty about that -- 10 years ago I would have finished it exactly like the pattern and I like my adaptation even though it was born out of procrastination.

What's next?  Well, I think I can get two going at the same time.  Since I've just finished hand quilting a piece, I'll layer up one of two tops that I want to hand quilt this year and get that going.  The second one will be stitching at the machine and I'll have to study the list to decide which one of the remaining 10 will get my attention next. 

What about you?  I hope this essay about taking a short cut to finishing a UFQ will inspire you to give another look at one of your UFQ's and discover your own adaptation! 


  1. Nice variation, Mary. Much more open and cheerful than the murky center on the pattern.

  2. I much prefer your version to the original! Great choice!

  3. I love your version. I, too, have problems looking at things set upside down.