The past week I was spending some time working on my all forgotten The Splendid Sampler quilt. At the time of the sew along, I only managed to sew 25 blocks and then I fell badly behind. I was trying to catch up and luckily printed out a few blocks, but then I gave up. Why?
Well, because I realised that I did not like it and simply could not keep up with the deadlines. It caused a lot of anxiety and was making me feel irritated. Three blocks a week for me personally was too many because of my already limited sewing time and if I kept working on this quilt only, everything else would have been left out for a long time, but I wanted to keep sewing my own things and at my own pace and in a happy mood.
Another reason this project did not work for me at that time was because of my poor planning skills. From the beginning I was trying to work only with the fabrics in my stash, without buying any extras and using the least precious prints, but it turned out more challenging than I thought at first. I kept gravitating to pinks and a tiny touch of blues. I also was a bit disappointed that I used some of the prints that I did not like very much for those beautiful blocks, but I had no time to redo them.
I wish I had a more clear idea of what I wanted my finished quilt to look like - just a mix of pretty colours and prints or maybe one particular gamma. If I was doing it now, my colour scheme would be a bit different and I would only stick to prints I truly like. That's another important lesson to be learnt here - planning is essential, especially with large projects that are harder to fix.
After falling in love with this project at the beginning and then almost getting to the point of hating it, I have finally pulled all the blocks out and I am happy to say that I love each and every one of them. I am determined to finish this quilt with an addition of five more blocks. When I look at all these blocks together, I do not really remember being frustrated or hating it at all. All I see is a lot of work put together by the wonderful designers who created these blocks. I see the love and deep meaning behind them, and stories and heartwarming memories of me working on these blocks while looking after my Little Boy.
"Scrappy Happy Heart" is designed by Christa Watson and it is a lot of fun to sew. It's a perfect block for those tiny scraps all of us have aplenty.
"Pencils" by Jane Davidson. This block reminded me of a silly story from my childhood. One day my Mum came back from work and found me and my friend playing together. Mum brought us a gift a box of 24 beautiful pastel pencils each that were very hard to find at that time. For some reason, the pencils came unsharpened. Mum offered to sharpen my pencils, but I was too busy playing and said that I was going to continue playing with dolls. My friend, on the hand, asked to sharpen hers as she wanted to draw right away. So my Mum did. My friend kept drawing for the rest of the evening while I kept playing. When came the time to go home for my friend, she picked up my box of pencils to my horror. I tried talking to her, but she was very insistent that my Mum offered her to sharpen MY BOX of PENCILS for her and she could take hers (brand new) home. There were plenty of tears and even names calling from my friend, but I won at the end and got my unsharpened pencils. I don't know why it was so important for me to keep my pencils or why this story stuck in my mind, but now it makes me smile and think how simple things seemed like a complete end of the world when we were little. :-)
"Hand in Hand" block by Kari Carr. Oh, how I love this block! This block has a very sentimental meaning that I can relate to. I did not read the sewing instructions before starting the work on this block and was surprised how these triangles were done - stitched in and folded instead of just sewing it in. Pretty much like origami. One day I would love to make an entire quilt using just this one block in different combinations.
OK, here is the quilt top ready for basting and quilting. I am going to tell you a secret, but shh...don't tell anyone. Please do not look too close at all the block, because if you do, you might see a huge (and I mean a HUGE) mistake with this quilt. Before I got back to this quilt, I was pondering over and over whether I should redo the blocks (quite a few of them), throw away all of them and forget about it or finish it as it is. So the last option won. I just could not bring myself to throwing all these pretties away and I could not face resewing the blocks again because if I started doing that, I would go on and change all of them and probably never finish the quilt. You might still be wondering what the big deal is. Let me tell you - when I just started working on these blocks, I did not know much about quilting. I put together some of the blocks, but they ended up being 6" instead of 6.5", mostly because they shrunk a lot when I pressed them. I noticed that when I was about 8-10 blocks down the track and I thought I would just work around it, but at the end I simply had to trim all my blocks to 6". So if you look, you would see that some lovely points are missing. :-)
Once again I am going to remind myself of these important notes to self (or anyone who might find them useful).
Some quilting notes that I must remember:
1. Starch, starch and more starch. Starch and iron the fabric before cutting and sewing, especially when working with small pieces. It makes work much easier and importantly it will shrink your fabric before you sew it.
2. Cut all the required block pieces before you start sewing. It helps to see how your block will look like and reduces a chance of any errors. Yes! I did cut just some part of blocks and then added more as I went.
3. Don't use pins when sewing small pieces together or invest in really thin pins that easily glide through layers of fabric and do not pull it.
4. Sew in batches or create a "production line" where possible to save the time and threads.
So here you have it - my Splendid Sampler Quilt Top or as I call it my Splendid Mistakes Quilt Top. I know it's probably going to annoy me seeing all these mistakes, but at the end of the day I am happy that I managed to sew something new and learn a LOT along the way. Happy sewing and happy learning! Larisa xox