The short answer is a resounding YES! Of course, we can!
Each one of us can easily “Quilt-A-Long” however, to be successful there are a couple of things you really need to do first.
FIRST: Choose a QAL that aligns with your schedule and skill level and make a general assessment of the overall pattern and block requirements. This comes in handy for the second step:
SECOND: Develop a system of organization. I’m not sure this should be item #2 – maybe item #1.2 or something.
Organization is as important as cutting accurately and sewing consistent 1/4″ seams!
Below is a quick show and tell of the basics I use at the beginning of every project – plastic bin, printed color chart and peel and stick address labels.
I am finding this system to be very useful with this particular collection of patterns. There are many squares and rectangles of every dimension imaginable. Some vary by only 1/4″ but here is the good news: I developed a few strategies to reduce – maybe even eliminate – the stress and frustration of managing so many small pieces of fabric.
Before I go any further, I’d like to discuss my first item –
FIRST THINGS FIRST – MAKING THE CHOICE
So far, winter in the mid-west has been brutal. Snow on top of snow, icy streets and cold temperatures ranging from Arctic to obscene left little convincing that the best way to weather this outdoor insanity Was to stay inside.
When it comes to fabric, sewing and quilting I need very little encouragement to spend the day sitting at my sewing machine but I was beginning to feel a little uninspired. Sure, I was finishing this bag project and a few charity quilts but once those are done what would I do next?
During my daily internet wanderings I did stumble upon a few QAL’s and BOM’s but there was always some element of the program that I couldn’t work around: A pattern or fabric I didn’t like, the monthly or yearly subscription price tag or the discovery that I was too late to register or so near the end of the program that I would never be able to catch up.
THE SILVER LINING
Did I mention how winter and I aren’t getting along? 🙂
No, nothing has changed however, I was able to appreciate at least one (actually, two) silver linings in this past winter’s Polar vortex. Something more inspiring than just staying indoors and online for longer periods of time.
As luck would have it, both of these ladies teamed up to create a QAL that I was able to join during WEEK 1 entitled, ” Adventure Quilt Along…a Road Trip Quilt”.
A quick read through the requirements and general instructions had me doing a happy dance!!! This is it and it looks like it will be so much fun!
Finally, I discovered a QAL that checked off a whole slew of boxes at once:
Learning new techniques
Using new tools
Choosing colorful quilt fabric, and
Sharing my completed blocks on social media and my website!
There were two other important details that helped me make the decision to join this QAL:
1) Signing up when I did allow me to receive every pattern and accompanying instructions for free and
2) Showing an image of the finished quilt revealed one of the most beautiful and colorful quilts ever! I still consider myself a “rookie” quilter but I knew right away I needed to make this!
Each of these talented ladies constructed a quilt using fabrics from two different collections. Kate used fabrics in solid colors and Tammy used batik printed fabrics.
QUICK NOTE ABOUT COLOR
Viewing each quilt I couldn’t decide which I like best – both are outstanding. However, history has taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to choosing multiple coordinating fabric colors (or colors of anything for matter) from a computer. Your best bet is to go with an established or curated collection. Color seen on a monitor is very different from what we see in real life. Colors generated for digital use are created using a CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK) combination. The colors we see in nature are the result of combining the primary colors Red, Yellow and Blue. This is why matching or coordinating colors online is tricky.
I wanted to maintain a color palette similar to the one used by Kate and Tammy. Not only do I love each color scheme but I felt it would make it easier for me to actually follow the instructions! In the interest of time but mostly convenience I felt my best bet was to purchase fabric online for this project. So, in order to get the right number of each color I had to chose two separate fat quarter bundles that at least appear, digitally, to coordinate. You can view my choices here and here.
I realize this is not a new subject. I also recognize that anyone that has quilted or sewn anything has reached this same conclusion and developed a strategy or system for being able to store and locate the multitude of items needed to complete a particular project. So I don’t feel as though I have deciphered a secret code or located the Rosetta Stone of organization but in the early stages of this project I realized I haven’t read about anyone else system of organization and felt someone else out there could benefit from the fruits of my labor!
BOXES, BAGS AND TAGS
That pretty well sums it up.
1. A plastic box or bin with a lid. I like the see-through kind so I can see what is inside. These are my favorite – I have about a dozen. (See image above)
2. Adhesive tags or labels – I’ll use several sheets of address labels for this project. Once you begin to use them you will begin to discover many other uses as well. Generally, they are fairly cheap so no worries if you feel you bought too many.
With so many colors to choose from and with so little variation in colors between the green, blue and red/coral I found it very helpful to first label each fat quarter.
And label again once each quarter had been cut into the individual pieces:
3. Zip-lock bags. Four or five will do. They can easily be reused as you progress to the next block. At first, I began with only 2 bags.
For better organization I again sub-divided the “North” and “South” into the different sizes and placed those pieces into separate bags.
I may have been able to construct Block 1 of this project – Log Cabin blocks – without going to the extra trouble of separating and labeling each group but I’m also aware that I could not have gone from this:
without having a meltdown (or two) along the way!
As for me, I can easily “Quilt-A-Long” as long as I’m organized and take my time and I’m not bringing out the seam ripper too often!
I’d love to hear your strategies for getting and staying organized with any quilt project. This is only my first quilt along but I feel organization is key to success. It prevents feeling too overwhelmed to begin the project and allow you to successfully continue with the project to it’s end.