Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Great Quilt-in-a-Day Challenge

   I’ve been seeing "Modern" quilts everywhere. The clean white backgrounds, rainbow colors, and simple patterns just make everything look so fresh and easy. I even went as far as to buy a Tula Pink pattern… occasionally I allow myself the indulgence of using someone else’s pattern and instructions for some mental down time... it's good to see what else is out there. I picked Tula's “Modern Alphabet.” because it looks easy and fun
     This is a project I am making for someone who has a special occasion coming up—buying the fabric, I picked blue Kaffe and Modern Background Paper, was the easy part. But time is becoming of the essence, and the fabric has been staring up at me, expectantly for more than a couple of months now. I need this done.
We've all seen ads for "Quilt in the Day'" and I’ve always wondered if this is really possible. I am not speedy. I have a Saturday by myself at the house… I am turning off my phone, locking the doors, and to set myself up for success have cleaned out a corner of my sewing room and readied my cutting board with new rotary cutter blade, etc., etc.
     Here's the math (I like math): I am thinking I can make one letter in about 15 minutes-- or that's four an hour, so after 7 hours I would have the blocks done. Since a 12-hour day is nothing when you’re having fun, that gives me five hours for assembly. All seems as easy as pie. I will probably send this out for quilting so that doesn't count. And with my quilting skills, even a year would not be enough time. 
     There will be frequent updates throughout the day. Let's do this.

7:00am. The clock starts. Weather is cooperating-- it's pouring outside. Doors locked, phone off, iTunes on. (I prefer Classic Rock.) “A” is a simple half square triangle. You make V as the same block and turn it upside down. Check and check. Now for “B.” I don't like B. Sorry, Tula!—it’s too modern for me. A couple extra triangles save the day. C. Check. Very straightforward, but I am having a premonition that this could get to be a bit boring. Thank God it's not 45 of the same block! Four blocks down for the hour—right on schedule!

8:00am. I am looking ahead a bit, and trying hard to LIKE the rest of the letters of the Modern Alphabet! Redesigning letters was not in my timetable. D is fun, and it’s also for Done! Check. But I don't like E. Yes, I know this is the Modern Alphabet, but four years of studying typography in college won't allow me to stitch an “E” that looks like a German Flag… the clock is ticking…

9:00am “E” was brutal. Made my simple changes and came up an inch short on the width. More coffee needed? So I just decided to add a strip and I LOVE the way it came out. For every epic fail, there's a happy accident.  Also costing me time, my background fabric is directional-- it has words on it. The words appear to be in German, (a theme here?) so I’m not sure anyone would notice if I made a mistake by putting it upside down. I don't intend to exhibit this in Munich so I'm going to let that go a little bit for time’s sake. That makes a grand total of TWO blocks now for this hour... So it's a third coffee and I will meet you back here at 11. The rubber needs to meet the road.

12:00pm Time flies when you’re having fun-- Woohoo!—just finished my “L,” halfway there. Thirteen blocks in five hours—not quite on schedule but there’s a lot of daylight left. I discovered something new about myself and I’m not proud of it... I use up a lot of time standing back to admire my work! F and G went well. The “H” really needed a crossbar, but easily added... Tula’s “I” is adorable and oh, sew easy to make. J, K, and L were also pretty simple...   I did break protocol no took calls from my mom (it’s a beautiful day in Florida) and my son (no cavities). It is now breakfast time! Trying to limit that to a half hour. Then I am pretty much assured I could have all the blocks done by 6ish (dinner) time and then spend the evening connecting the rows. Further than I thought I might have been. I got this!

2:00 Fourth row just finished. I have to admit I am really getting tired mentally and physically.  Seven straight hours of sewing. Taking another 1/2 half hour break and vowing to continue! M, N, O and P are finished. Q is really not looking like a Q to me, but I can’t face alterations anymore.

3:00 Fading fast!! All I have to show for the last hour is a T and a V with the words upside down. Because with directional fabrics, the trick of turning the A upside down didn’t work.... I can’t live with it, so it’s a redo. Worst of all, my cat is starting to help me... probably wondering where mom has been all day. Help!
3:53 Revived a bit. I reminded myself that the foundation of survival skills is THE WILL TO GO ON. I  learned this valuable life lesson by watching a TV show about a mountain climber who almost died in the snow after a fall, but pulled himself ten miles with his bare hands and a broken leg. I’m not on my hands and knees yet, or bleeding, so buck up. I got this. Kitty convinced me to stop doing the letters in order and pick some of the more fun, easy ones to encourage myself. He then left to check his food bowl and take another nap. His strategy will be a good one until I am even more tired and have only hard blocks left to finish up. So... for this hour, I have a redone V, a W with really bad points made from the old V (in this quilt, “W” is for Wonky!) and an X. Four left to go! I could still be done by dinner time, but the S needs a rework, also a text to my daughter assured me that Tula’s Q does not look like a Q at all.   I'm sorry if I am ragging on Tula a bit... this is a gorgeous, well written pattern. I get that the letters are somewhat left to the imagination. The problem, as in so many of my relationships over the years, is with me. So I have now nicknamed my quilt “Carol’s LESS Modern Alphabet.”

5:15pm The only thing missing is YOU! Get it? Feeling very punchy, a bit smug, running out of floor space and very, very hungry! YOU will have to wait until after dinner... Its time for a LONG break. Sewing room also needs a big cleanup to make room to cut those LONG white strips between the rows. Thread tails and snips of Kaffe everywhere. So instead of four blocks an hour, I pretty much averaged TWO... this confirms the lifelong maxim we've all know-- everything takes twice as long as you think it will. 

9:00pm U is finished, Q is revamped and it's time for the five 56" rows of sashing. Cleaned up for a bit, cutting the rows took about an hour and two out of ten seams are sewn. Honestly just about to call it quits, though I might have another hour in me. So I guess the answer is NO, I can't quite do a quilt in a day...  I'm left with a pile of dishes in the sink, and a project that's still a UFO for now...

10am the next day… took me only about an hour to finish the long seams after a good nights sleep! Feeling super positive after being a downer at the end of yesterday... the quilt is done for now—I’m WAY ahead of schedule. I need more of my background fabric (thank you, Fat Quarter shop for still having it) and a little math to bring it up to a twin bed size.

Would I attempt this again? Honestly, probably not--- I am really beat today and won't get much done anyway, so I might as well have taken the weekend to do it more leisurely. But I learned a few things about quilting and about myself... Standing back to look at things does not make for progress... put the pedal to the metal on long seams... the more tired you become, progress starts to become impossible… and the biggest take away of all-- I do not really ever get sick of sewing!!! The above photo represents 18 hours of work. I absolutely LOVE this quilt and have a knock it out of the ballpark gift for someone dear.... QUILT IN A DAY—an experience that’s now OFF my bucket list!


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful work Carol. I have done several of Eleanor's QIAD patterns. But, It is El's way. I would never try someone else's pattern. I think the first thing is that she has simplified her patterns so they may be made in a day. She only counts the sewing of the top together. She doesn't count the time it takes to prepare the fabric etc; Don't be so hard on yourself. You did a great job. Hugs to you.