A long time ago… I cut over 1000 little squares.
Back in 2008, I had wanted to dip my toes into quilting and so I started a hand-pieced quilt (more on that soon). In short order, mom convinced me to give machine piecing a try. I quickly sewed up a Turning Twenty quilt top and was over-excited about my new hobby. (I know, hard to imagine) I went right out and purchased fabric for my next quilt and cut all the fabric
I got discouraged on the Turning Twenty quilt soon after which left me packing all of my quilting supplies up and not touching any of it again for years and years.
Fast forward to 2016 – I happened upon all of my old quilting stuff at mom’s and decided to finish up that old quilt top. You can read its full story here, but we’re here to talk about all those squares. I was just getting back into sewing at that point, so I sewed up a few squares in what I thought the pattern had been.
Now, for some of my first sewing in nearly a decade that’s pretty darned good. I wanted to practice more before I tackled this one and honestly, I was pretty daunted by all those squares. I still think it’s a bit intimidating – I’ve made a nine patch quilt. So I packed it up again.
Now we’re in present day and you may recall that I found this quilt again a few months back. Now seemed like the perfect time to tackle this monster. I’ve got a good number of quilts under my belt and it is the year of wips, after all. The big problem here was that I was reasonably sure that the sample blocks I had made in 2016 weren’t the right pattern.
I do have vague memories of what the pattern book looked like but it seems to be long gone from mine or mom’s possession. So I turned to a bit of math influenced brainstorming. I had conveniently written the quantities of each size square: 560 dark 2.5″ squares, 420 light 2.5″ squares, and 140 each light and dark 2 7/8″ squares. After figuring out that the 2 7/8″ squares would be used for two-at-a-time HSTS, we were on our way.
I brainstormed, I mathed, I looked up countless nine-patch variations until finally, I had it! This is called a split nine patch, though that is also conveniently what the other, wrong sample block is called but that’s quilt patterns for you. With that sorted, I decided to use these squares as leaders and enders for my sewing projects.
I sorted all the squares in a serious effort to have the fabrics well distributed. Whenever I was sewing a quarter inch seam, I sewed two 2.5″ squares together. When I was doing anything else, like snowballing or flying geese, I did the HSTs. I made quite a bit of progress that way.
Last weekend, I decided to to just get cracking and try to get the top finished. The first step was to deconstruct those old blocks so my seam ripper and I had a nice little party. With that done, I really got moving – chain piecing is so satisfying when you have a good audiobook, a hot cup of coffee, and endless seams to sew.
Now, I’m a big fan of nesting seams so I’ve divided everything into two sets of blocks – “in” and “out.” I press all the in-block seams toward the middle and the out-block seams toward the external squares. Since the piecing is all identical, all you have to do is alternate ins and outs and voila! Nested seams. I made 70 in blocks first:
And then I made 70 more…
Finally, I was ready to start laying them out. I think the original pattern I picked out was set in furrows, but I decided to try something with a bit more pizazz.
It took me forever to lay this out! I also got the in’s and out’s confused more times than I’d like to admit. I honestly didn’t worry too much about fabrics being next to one another. The only swaps I made in the layout were to distribute that gold a little bit. I really don’t love assembling quilts, so it took me a few more weeks to get it done, but now it’s a quilt top!
I can’t believe it’s done! I have to say, I don’t think I’d choose these fabrics today, but the finished top is pretty amazing. I’m so proud of myself for getting this one done finally! This is finish 11 of 19 for my year of WIPs (#10 is a gift, so you’ll see it way later) – we’re over halfway there!
All in all, I’m very proud of how well this one came out. One of the biggest things I think I’ve learned over the last 13 years is that, for me, finished is better than perfect. I do my best and in the end my quilts always look good enough to snuggle under.
#yearofwips projects finished: 11 of 19