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!