04 April 2017

A WIP in Time

I am SO excited to begin the new Ravelry WIP challenge! I feel as if I've actually made progress, not only on my list, but in my free-motion quilting confidence level.

My goal for the first quarter of 2017 was to finish six of my WIPs, two each month, if at all possible. February left me feeling like a failure because it was but two months into the goal, and I didn't finish a single thing, thanks to one of the worst head colds I've had in many years.

In March, we were drawn for Ride the Rockies, a week-long cross-state bicycle tour in June, and training commenced. Initially, I thought I probably wouldn't get much sewing done once again. Perhaps I should be thankful winter finally discovered the Front Range, and perhaps I should count my lucky stars that cramming for the Spoonflower hexagon challenge deadline left me with mouse elbow.

What I didn't get done in February, I made up for in March! I finished four quilts in three weeks! I met my goal and finished six quilts in three months!

Peacock Blues began as a yard of blue floral peacock fabric I couldn't resist a few years ago.

At the time, I thought I'd use up some of the blue floral scraps left over from dresses I've made throughout the years to border one of the two whole peacocks in the yard to make a SMALL wall quilt for our bedroom. I liked the floral borders so much, I kept going. Soon, it was almost big enough to be a lap quilt.

I sandwiched it and put it on the To Do quilt rack, along with all the other WIPs that need only to be quilted or sandwiched and quilted. It has been there a good long while, taking on the weight of each new quilt top I've finished in the last couple of years.

In January, I found out I would be making Christmas quilts not for four adopted grandchildren, but for four adopted grandchildren AND their eleven siblings!!! YIKES! You can't gift just certain children in an adoptive family when the children are all under 11 years of age. Little kids don't understand when one kid gets something special and the others don't. I was raised in a blended family, and I was a foster parent. I'm not leaving any kids out. So 15 quilts it is.

This would be the perfect way to finish and unload some of the 37 WIPs on my Winter Quarter list. My husband asked when I first got serious about finishing all my WIPs what I would do with 37 quilts. At the time, I thought I could give many of them away.

Giving them away to family members, especially family members who've had a rough start, is one of the best ways I can think of to shrink my collection of quilts when done. I can get down to a respectable amount of WIPs if I can turn some of the unfinished projects into kid quilts by Christmas this year. I probably will have to start new quilts for the boys, but I think most of the girls would like most of the quilts on my WIP list.

All I lack is the confidence to free-motion quilt. I've been searching, without success, for a walking foot for my 35-year-old Viking Husqvarna for at least two years and more likely three. I finally found one that might be the proper attachment, but apparently none of the out-of-state dealers I've contacted want to risk telling me, "Yes, this will work on your machine!"

I finally threw in the towel and looked for a walking foot for the $80 department store Brother I bought last year while my Viking Husqvarna was in the shop with a broken wheel that now runs just fine with a Super Glue fix. Although there is supposed to be a (universal) walking foot for the Brother, I couldn't find one. However, I found something even better, and less expensive to boot. I found an open-toe presser foot, also supposed to be universal, at least for Brother machines. I wasted no time ordering it, then installing it and deeply studying the manuals for both the machine and the foot to make sure I knew what I was doing before I put fabric underneath this oddly shaped little contraption.

I practiced a few times before performing stitch surgery on the peacock. I was SO frustrated to learn I can't adjust the bobbin tension on the Brother, only the top thread tension. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the tension perfect. I decided it doesn't matter if the peacock is perfect. It matters if it's done. It won't get done if I wait until I'm perfect.

I took apart the Peacock Blues quilt sandwich and added six inches all the way around of Kona Nautical, which I bought specifically for that purpose. I retooled the piecework back, pulling in a scrap orphan I didn't really like and a special little touch I may have to add to the back of just about every quilt from now on and rebuilt the sandwich.

Caution was thrown to the March wind, and I began at the top of the peacock head. Within less than an inch of stitching, I'd already made my first mistake. I learned to guide the layers more smoothly as I traveled, but I still had to learn to stop with needle down, which I had to do manually, or the weight of the quilt would jerk it away from the needle.

I kept going instead of stopping every time the needle path crossed outside of the lines I intended to stitch. My heart was breaking because this was the ugliest quilting I've ever done, and I knew if I stopped to fix every little thing, it would take me weeks to learn how to drive the open toe foot.

When I finally finished the peacock and the biggest flowers, I moved the quilt to my Viking Husqvarna and completed the quilt with good old lift and rotate straight line stitching on a machine I know much better and feel much more comfortable using.

Twice I noticed the underneath fabric had buckled or tucked, and I frogged the stitching. After finishing the outer border, I found more tucks and buckles I couldn't fix unless I took out eight rows of stitching. I was devastated. And yet, it was almost done, and I could try to do better on the next quilt.

I hoped I'd have enough of the dark Fairy Frost I'd used to edge the floral borders to bind the quilt. Once again, second consecutive quilt, I was left with far less leftovers that I'm comfortable with, but I did have enough to finish the quilt. It's done. It's not perfect. But you can't tell unless you look close. It's done. I need to sing and dance that it's done. I finished a quilt with true free-motion quilting. The best part is I am anxious to do the next quilt now. I'm going to master that open toe foot! I promise!

While creating this quarter's WIP list, I found two WIPs I'd somehow accidentally dropped from both the autumn and winter lists. I started only one new project at the beginning of the year, too, but it's a scrap block-a-day WIP intended to make use of leftovers that are really beginning to pile up, now that I'm actually finishing quilts.

I don't know if I'll be able to complete my personal goal of two quilts per month this quarter because I'll be training for Ride the Rockies until June, and then in June, I'll be spending a week on my bike pedaling across my favorite mountain range in Colorado. We're also signed up for the MS-150 in June, but we still don't know yet whether my husband will be able to get time off. I think it's safe to say I probably will NOT finish any quilts in June!

The Ravelry WIP challenge is to finish at least one WIP each quarter. I will meet that goal! I hope to finish more than one, but anything beyond one quilt this quarter is a bonus.

1. Hawaiian Punch

2. Snowflake Heartburn

3. Leaf Me Alone

4. Welcome to the Jungle

5. Blue Floral Nostalgia

6. Lizard Toes

7. Hexie Booboo

8. Tickled Pink, the Sequel

Teal Time
9. Teal Shadows

10. Goodbye Hollyhock Road

11. Charmed by Snowflakes

Snowflake Strip Bar
12. Snowflake Strip Bar

13. Rainbow Strip Bar

14. Dreaming of a Lavender Christmas

15. Green Floral Batik Postage Stamps

16. Quilt of Valor

17. Blue Floral Trilogy

18. Lavender Sunrise

19. Giant Dahlia

20. Showcase

21. Arctic Skies

22. Snowbike II

23. Autumn Splendor

24. Scrappy Block-a-Day Stars

25. Cool Edge of the Rainbow

26. One More Ticker Tape

27. Collared Lizard Wall Quilt

28. Blood Orange

29. Time for Me to Fly

30. Venetian Squiggles

31. Purple Haze

32. Rainbow Stripes

33. Scrappy Blue Block a Day

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.


  1. Blue really catches the eye. Like the peacock. Used to have some when I was growing up, noisy little buggers. Never know what kind of contraption can do the trick.

    1. Thanks, Pat! I, too, really love the blues!!!

  2. Honestly the peacock quilt looks AMAZING! We're always our own worst critics. I think you did a great job.

    Your WIP list never ceases to astonish me. (Not that you have so many unfinished, but that you have so many great ideas off to such good starts. You are so productive.)

    1. You haven't seen the peacock up close, Sue. :P But how encouraging and empowering it is to know someone thinks having so many WIPs has a positive side! Thank you!


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