Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



This has not been a traditional year for me in that I didn't make up a list of quilts that I wanted to work on this year.  I think it's because 1) There doesn't seem to be any "must make" projects for me right now and 2) There doesn't seem to ever be a time when I'm at a loss on what to make next.  Of course, as I'm typing this, I do recall that one thing I would love to make this year (finally) is the Amy Butler Weekender Bag.  I have the pattern, my plan, the fabric and notions required--all sitting on a shelf where it's been for nearly a year.  I have even made the piping!  I guess that will be my one goal for this year.

Last year, I wanted to work on a big, complicated quilt.  I was referring to it as my "BC" poject.  It is a project from Judy Martin's book, Extraordinary Log Cabin Quilts.  If you want to refresh yourself, you can read past entries about it here, here, here, and here.  The last link is my post about the retreat I attended last June.  During the retreat, I got the center of the quilt finished

 and began working on the border units. There are three types of units that are needed to complete the quilt:  a large unit, a smaller unit that is partially made up of a log cabin block, and the 4 corners.  I started on the large unit and got them half done.  By "half done" I mean that I need 20 total of these and I got all 20 of them half completed.

This is a picture of half the unit.  When I completed them and pressed them, I discovered, unpleasantly, that the tops and bottoms were wavy--that is, not a perfectly straight line.  (This isn't shown in the picture--I should have taken a photo of the "before" units. A quick check on strip piecing showed me my issue.  When you are sewing strip sets together, you need to always start from the same direction--either top to bottom, or bottom to top.  I was at a retreat and chatting and not really focusing on what I was doing.  The fix?  Ripping and starting again.  Or more cutting and starting again.  I put them away on the shelf and moved on.

Recently, though, I decided to get it back out.  I had two driving forces:  one being that it was a year ago that I said I wanted to do this project and two being that a friend was wondering how it turned out (and I had to say it was unfinished.)  Sunday evening I brought them out and began examining them and ripping off the stips that didn't match up.  A few needed to be entirely ripped apart--just into the six vertical stips in the photo above--I didn't have to rip the 4 pieces that make up each strip.  Some needed to be ripped apart three times, and some even fewer.  My husband was watching tv with me and offered to help. (He has ripped things for me before--such a sweetie.)  There are 20 sets and I was able to get them all apart (keeping them arranged in the right order) before bed.

Yesterday I sewed them back together.  I was careful to always start at the "top" and before I sewed, I matched the bottoms and pinned it. Yes, I pinned!  The time and care paid off, and now the tops and bottoms are nice and even and straight.  More important, the project has picked up momentum and now I'm eager to sew on it again.  In fact, I began the other half of these units after I finished fixing them.

I know I broke one of my cardinal rules when working on this.  I ALWAYS try to fix a major problem BEFORE I set a project aside.  Very often, if the project is fixed, it ends up getting finished and not set aside, which I one reason I think that I have few UFOs.  I nearly always realize that the problem is not as bad as I think.  This one really didn't take much time to fix at all.

Another thought that I had about these border units was that I wished I had cut the bottom red and white strips a bit longer, so I could trim them to be exactly the 15.5" I need.  But as I was thinking about that I began to wonder if I was relying too much on these sorts of "cheating" methods.  These days, I oversize both my half square triangles and my flying geese so that I can trim them to be perfect.  In doing so, am I risking my accuracy?  That was niggling around in my brain while I worked on these and so I was very happy that I could get them together perfectly.  I believe testing my accuracy was one of the reasons I wanted to attempt a Big, Complicated project, so I'm pleased.  Furthermore, I'm excited to get back to it, so I will leave off here and go sew!

Before I go, here is a picture of a quilt that is the same as I am making, only this one is a wall-hanging size, and I am doing a king-sized quilt.  This one has 4 white stars in the center, and mine has 25.  This was hanging in the Shipshewana Quilt Show last summer.

Have a great day!


  1. I don't have Judy's log cabin book so I have never seen this design. Wonderful, wonderful quilt you have made.

  2. I think I have seen this quilt pattern before (done up and quilt in a show) - you are going to have one very BIG and gorgeous quilt.

  3. Those are some amazing quilts, quite the labor of love and would be well worth making. It would take me a couple of years to make that one too! Good luck and happy stitching!

  4. What a great post. I appreciate your taking the time to share...your blog is a favorite of mine.

  5. This is going to be very impressive when you finish. I have several of Judy Martin's books but have been reluctant to start any of the projects because they are so complicated. Judy does not believe in trimming to size so all the piecing needs to be very accurate. One of these days...

  6. There is a lot of that making bigger and trimming down. I hate the extra steps and the wasted fabric. I try to cut accurately and go slowly. I have her book and would really like to try one of the projects. You have inspired me to do it. Thanks

  7. Good for you to get back to that quilt--it's going to be beautiful!

  8. It's going to be beautiful, JoAnne! I love it!

  9. What a labor of love. It is worth all your time and effort.


  10. Wow! That's going to be awesome!
    I have learned to push thru mistakes and end a session on a high note and have my needle threaded, knotted, and ready to take the next stitch! I know if I stop work in a mess and a jumble, I'll never pick it up again! Who likes to start in a hole!?!

  11. What a fabulous quilt. I haven't seen this pattern before, and it's truly a beauty. It will be worth the effort when it's finished and on your bed,

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