Auditioning Strips

Five multicolored quilt blocks on a background of clashing, patterned, colorful, fabric strips.
Auditioning clashing yet coordinated fabric strips.

I laid the number of strips out called for in section one of The Gypsy Wife Quilt pattern. Colors are completely up to the creator, the pattern gives no concrete guidance. I am struggling to create the traditionally wild and eclectic Gypsy Wife Quilt background without smothering my blocks. I’ve succeeded in keeping my blocks defined, but Amoeba is dissatisfied with the two plain blue strips, and wants me to separate the two red strips. I am “meh” about the blues, but I love those reds together. One person has told me I need to move the yellow strip on the right, and another person told me that they absolutely love the way the right end strips all play together and asked me not to remove the yellow one.

All these strips are making me dizzy. Why don’t you go ahead and share your thoughts on the audition before I stitch them in to a permanent contract?

Puss In The Corner

Puss In The Corner quilt block
This one scared me before I even started.

I looked at the directions on the pattern page and my brain started freaking out. Too many little pieces! Mayday! Mayday! I am well-practiced at making half-square triangles, but the Puss in a Corner block also has 9 tiny squares. I hate working with tiny pieces! Happily, only the fussy cut flower one had to be cut tiny. For the others, I cut two strips, one red, one blue; then I sewed the strips together and sub-cut them to the proper size of the joined pair. That brilliant hack wasn’t my brainchild. One of our wonderful support group admins shared the tip and I snapped it up. When I get more practiced, I will (hopefully) be able to figure out such things for myself.

Getting more practiced at piecing was the primary reason I first became interested in The Gypsy Wife Quilt pattern. The completed quilt sports an incredible array of blocks in a dazzling array of sizes. Making it will give me plenty of practice making a good variety of blocks.

The pattern also calls for a crazy mash-up of colors, which gave me some pause. I was all set to make this quilt in a much tamer color palate, then Amoeba threw in his two cents and said if I skimped on the colors and patterns, it wouldn’t be a true “Gypsy Wife Quilt,” so I hesitantly agreed to step out of my comfort zone. However, as I started gathering the fabrics, I began to embrace the idea. Now I am whole-heartedly going wild. This is going to be one flashy Gypsy Wife.

And Amoeba didn’t just toss his two cents in and walk away. He helped me pick out the fabrics for the two wildest blocks. He added the orange and purple polka dot pop to the double-bordered hourglass block, and helped choose the pink and the gold for the half-square triangles in this block. The three tamer blocks I made by myself.

That’s block five, starched and pressed.

Pinwheel Block

Pinwheel quilt block
Spinning out of control!

Actually, this pinwheel block isn’t out of control. All the lady bugs are doing as requested. My colors are crisp and complementary. My points are reasonably good. I’m glad I didn’t have major problems with this block because I’ll be making a lot more of them before I finish this quilt.

We are making The Gypsy Wife Quilt in sections. I have one more block to make for section one, and then I’ll pick out my background strips and stitch it all together.

The Gypsy Wife Quilt is a pattern by Jen Kingwell. The quilt is wild and colorful and complicated to make, which you will no doubt see as we go along. I became interested in the quilt about a year ago, but didn’t know if my skills were polished enough for the challenge. Happily, I stumbled across someone on Facebook who was starting an online Gypsy Wife Quilt support group. It is called the Gypsy Wife Quilt Along 2019, and it is not too late to join us. We are working on one section of the quilt every month for the next ten months. The admins have put together some awesome supports for section one.

And that’s block four, pinned down; and a look at what’s to come.

Bordered Square in a Square

bordered square in a square quilt block
Bordered Square in a Square Block

As you can see, I do learn. My lovely flower is centered beautifully in the middle of my block. Even so, this block bugs me. The lady bugs are supposed to be marching around the block counter clockwise, but I used all of my “pay attention” on getting the flower just ‘sew’ and that’s why the lady bugs at the top of the block are facing the wrong direction. I could take it apart and turn them around, but as scrappy as this quilt is going to be, the direction of one little strip of lady bugs really isn’t going to make much difference.

So far, this is my favorite block. The flowers … the colors … perfection. Third block squared away.

Square in a Square

quilting square
Square in a square block

This block was an adventure in frustration. I cut the colorful center block so the medallion was perfectly centered — so why did it not come out perfectly centered on my final block? Perhaps because of all the reverse sewing — I could not get the four black and white corner pieces to fit the way the photo in the pattern book shows. After much frustration, I check out the tutorials offered by our sewing group admin and find that the pattern book photo is misleading. I also learned how to sew a scant quarter inch. So here is my block, the exact, perfect size, but just a bit off kilter — like me.

Block two, adieu!

Curse Words Redacted

Angry, I am. Much has changed in the blogging world since I was here last. Many things on my blog no longer work — like adding posts and actually getting my page to load. Half the time when I press the update feature, I get an error report that I do not have the expertise to address. I WANT to blog my quilting progress, but it seems the tech does not agree. I am feeling extremely discouraged.

For four days, I wrote panicked emails to DreamHost. Each time they answered with a different solution. Finally I am up and running. I think. At least I no longer get the spinning wheel for hours, and then a page 500 server error. But what I did get with this last little bit of information was a notification that they were done helping me and would not talk to me again until February 20th. I have been a loyal customer since 2007. This is probably the 3rd time I have ever used support, and never before have I required more than a few minutes of their time. Doesn’t that mean I should have unused tech credits?

Actually, I believe they have helped me with my tech problem and all that remains is to fill in the gaps in my education — not their job — but that little footnote on the bottom of the page saying they’re ignoring me until February 20th still rankles. What if something new goes wrong?

However, if you’re reading this post, it looks like nothing new went wrong.

Double-Bordered Hourglass

Multi-colored quilt block of vivid colors: red, orange, black, teal, and purple.
This block tested my intelligence!

Start with a simple half-square triangle — that wasn’t so simple! I have made dozens of these perfectly. This one, not so much. I swear I followed the directions, but it came out way too big, squared up nicely, then ended up sewn in crooked. Do not ask me how. I think the Gypsy Wife Quilt pattern comes with a gypsy curse — at least that’s what I’m blaming my lack of accuracy on! (I suppose it could have been the cold meds, but what if the problem persists? I can’t blame them indefinitely. Blaming the curse has more realistic longevity.)

And then this happened. I swear I was paying attention! I have no idea how I managed to get not one, but both sides sewn on backward. It has got to be a curse. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Time for some reverse sewing.

After I finally got that black and teal polka dot border on correctly, I couldn’t make up my mind what to use for the last border. I auditioned at least a dozen fabrics. I wanted something that would echo either the red or the orange. I had finally decided I was going to use the same tone-on-tone red as in the center hourglass, when Amoeba stepped into my sewing room. He picked out the orange and purple polka dots. Since everyone knows one celled organisms have impeccable fashion sense, I agreed.

And then the curse struck again. First off, the Gypsy Wife Quilt pattern isn’t all that easy to read — which is precisely why we are doing it as a group. For some blocks you have to know to add seam allowance, for others you don’t. When this block was complete, I realized I had too much seam allowance, so I remedied that by trimming the extra off — without remembering to divide the total and trim it evenly off all four sides, so I have a wonky block. But in this quilt, it will just add a little extra character. Besides, finished is better than perfect.

I shared the block on Facebook. I was not surprised when sister, C, politely told me this block was a bit too wild for her tastes. I was a lot surprised when my purple-haired sister, J, told me much the same thing. Too wild? Really? Pft. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Block one, done.

Fabric Choices

These are the fabrics I will use to build my quilt.

As I stated in my previous post, I am making the “Gypsy Wife Quilt,” which is an eclectic pattern created by Jen Kingwell. I went through my fabric stash and pulled out my favorite, most vibrant prints. Kaffe Fawcett and Tula Pink fabrics are always a riot of color and easily bring to mind the dazzling colors of twirling gypsy skirts. Along with Tula and Kaffe I have some Moda Grunge, some Kona Cotton, and RJR’s Hopscotch Candy Necklace Charm pack.

There’s a good chance I will pull in other fabric’s too. As well as blocks, the pattern has over 60 fabric stripes that run from top to bottom on the quilt. This pattern is so busy, a person could easily use over 100 different fabrics in it’s creation.

I am creating the GWQ as part of an online Facebook group. We plan to take at least 10 months to finish the blocks. Come enjoy the journey with us.

A Fitting Query?

He stepped into the house, “Hi, hon, are you feeling better?”

She said, “Much. I even got some chores done while you were gone.”

“Oh?” He queried, “What did you do?”

She answered, “I put clean shirts on the bed and ironed your sheets and hung them in the closet.”

He looked at her quizzically. “I thought you said you were feeling better?”