Friday, December 9, 2022

Quilting Reflections

The quilting is well underway -- 30 to 45 minutes a day so I don't ruin my neck and shoulders and back for the remainder of the day.  I'd like to work longer since the project is going so well but I've learned  that steady does it better.  I'm close to the halfway point and have worked out all the design decisions needed.

I started with the plain square in the center and while a fancy feather circle might have fit the square nicely, in my opinion it didn't suit the simple style of the quilt.  A pumpkin seed flower which is easy for me -- a series of arcs which are well within my comfort zone is all that is needed.
Not only is it a simple motif for me to machine quilt, it influenced the designs for other blocks because repetition in design is a good strategy visually. It also saves mental energy for me -- fewer ideas to sort through in my mind because I can focus on how to fit that design element into the blocks.
I try my ideas out with a chalk wheel -- drawing directly on the fabric to help my brain make a quicker decision about a design idea.  I've long abandoned the idea that I should be able to "visualize" -- I need to see it.  That saves me so much mental energy (which seems to be in shorter supply as I age).
Each of these blocks is repeated four times throughout the quilt so after the first block is quilted, it's easy to quilt the remaining blocks because all the hard thinking work is done.
I'm quilting the balance of the quilt with a diagonal grid.  It's simple so fits the style of the patchwork and besides, I was totally intimidated by the idea of trying to develop a design that would "reinforce" the graphic lines of the patchwork.  
Looking at antique quilt photos, I was reminded that the simple grid is a solid solution.
The trickiest part of planning a grid over patchwork is getting the spacing between the lines sorted out.  I used the chalk wheel to plan the spacing but when the reality of slight block size differences started to "mess up" my plan, I found that quilting a line from corner to corner  (which you can barely see on the right side of this picture) and then spacing the three lines (fairly) evenly between is working best.  
On the left side, you see inconsistent spacing that is the result of this strategy, but when the quilt is finished and laying out across a bed, those will just blend into the overall appearance of the quilt. 

Since I don't listen or watch "content" while I'm piecing or quilting, I get pretty reflective.

Working on this quilt has led to some 2023 planning reflection. If you've followed my musings here for several years, you know that I'm into BIG annual quilt making goals.  There was the year I set out to use 212 yards of my stash.  And that massive 2021 goal to quilt 21 quilt tops by the end of the year.

Those goals keep me motivated even though I'm only accountable to myself.  And I'm learning to be a bit flexible about reaching the goals.  For example, this year I wanted to finish 24 UFO's and eliminate 12 UFO's.  I'm not going to make the finishing goal (but I'll get to 20 which is very satisfying) but I have already exceeded the eliminating goal with 18 projects (no projects were harmed in this quest to "get real" -- sold, canceled, repurposed, or abbreviated).

Plus striving for each of those goals has impacted my skill set in very positive ways!
Shopping in my stash first is so easy because I made myself do it for an entire year.
Eliminating projects and focusing on pieces I "really" want to do has reduced the mental burden of all those old UFO's which no longer interest me on any level.  (So huge!!)
And this week, I'm realizing that all that machine quilting in 2021 has made the process of finishing a quilt top into a quilt much easier and very satisfying with lots less procrastination.

If you are in the habit of rambling around your quilt making or your knitting or whatever craft you practice, consider setting a goal to maintain more focus, build skills, and garner more satisfaction in your work.  Start by taking "inventory" of the stuff.
Then determine a priority.
That priority will help you set a goal.
And the timeline doesn't need to be an entire year if you don't think you can stay focused that long 
(but trying to might just surprise you).
A six month or three month goal can be just as motivating.  Even a month.

I'm just starting my annual "inventory" and there are two areas I'm considering.
One is the pile of antique quilt tops -- there are nine and I know they will be a problem for my heirs to disperse.  If there is any provenance, I know it but they won't.  The top my mother set together with blocks made for her by an aunt needs to stay in the family.  There are a couple that were given to me because people didn't know what to do (except not thrown them away).  There is one I could not resist at a flea market.  If I go with this as a goal, dealing with one a month could accomplish it easily and I would have 3 months to lose focus??
The other is the stack of quilt patterns I want "to make". 
Well, that's what makes quilting fun isn't it?  Starting a new project!
So perhaps picking the top four would be stimulating (but of course, I would want to finish each one in 2023 so as not to grow new UFO piles)?
And of course, there are still UFO's lurking in the corners --- argghhh?!?

The pondering continues!

I hope you are getting into some holiday frivolity this month after a couple years of so much less -- baking or going out to lunch with a friend or caroling or enjoying the winter lights.

Talk soon!


1 comment:

  1. Always inspired to set goals when I see your accomplishments! I did not meet all of mine, but so many because I set goals. Thank you for inspiration, friendship, and mentoring. Happy Holidays!