“I Love This Quilt.”
Part 4: Making a Large Quilt Requires BIG Project Management
We have a phrase that we use around the McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker office, “We’re getting ready to get ready to get ready.” We most often hear this when one of us is working on a quilt that has gazillion patches, units and/or sections to make–before we can start making the blocks for the quilt. This saying best describes making my version of the Twinkling Star pattern I chose for the January/February McCall’s Quilting I Love This Quilt feature. (See the end of this blog for links to the free pattern download and previous blog posts.)
Turning the original twin-size pattern into a king-size bed quilt changed it into a BIG quilt project, requiring BIG project management to get it finished. The project management became a critical part of the quilt-making process, as it is with many quilts of this size. I thought a lot about how I would approach making the quilt and thought it might be worthwhile to put fingers to keyboard to share them with you.
Every quilter has a method for approaching the steps to complete a quilt; some are very methodical and organized, some not so much. If you take a close look at the organization of our patterns, you’ll notice a distinct approach. We don’t tend to make a block at a time, rather break them down to make each of the pieced shapes, segments, units and/or sections before we sew the block together. And, making these sub pieces generally uses a specific technique. When we design the art and write a pattern for a quilt submitted to us, we begin our process by breaking down the quilt blocks into manageable sew-easy portions, and identifying the best technique or method to make that portion. I took the same approach to making my version of the Twinkling Star.
As I mentioned in earlier blogs I chose several techniques, Triangulations and a Quick Points ruler to help me make Triangle-Squares for blocks and a border and the Prairie Point edging faster. My project management guideline was to break down parts of the quilt project to complete portions of it and make progress during the times I thought I could manage quilting time during any given week. I’m going to use the word “chunks” here to describe how I managed the progress for my BIG quilt project. I managed chunks of sewing activities and time while I maintained a relationship with family and the management of home and work. Here is a summary of how I “chunked” the work on my quilt. I looked for ways I could do a chunk of work on the quilt, preparing-to-sew activities while sitting on the sofa by my husband in the evening, or sitting at the sewing machine an hour before work, a couple hours after or 3-5 hours during the weekend.
Here’s how I chunked making my king-size quilt with 25 – 15” blocks and 3 borders (B1-3”, B2-pieced 2”, B3-4”).
Chunk 1: First, I focused on making the pieced segments for the blocks. Each block required 12 units of 3 – 1 1/4 ” triangle-squares and 3 half-square triangles. Using the Triangulations method (38 sheets providing 24 triangle-squares / page), I made 900 triangle-square segments. I paired each triangle-square segment with 3 half square triangles.
Chunk 2: I sewed the pieced segments together 12 at a time so I could get a sense of progress toward a finished block.
Chunk 3: I spent an evening in front of the TV pinning each of the pieced segments to a half-square triangle, trimming excess fabric from the corners as I pinned.
Chunk 4: At the next sewing session I sewed them together.
Chunk 5: Next, I spent an evening with hubby while I pinned the 12 segments with corner squares to make a row for each block.
Chunk 6: I sewed these together at the next sewing session.
Chunk 7: Another evening on the sofa, pinning the rows together in the evening for all the blocks.
Chunk 8: Next day I sewed them together.
You get the idea. It’s all about managing time and work, thinking ahead for how you can chunk it down to manageable portions that work around other parts of life. I can’t say that it didn’t feel like it took forever to make the quilt, but I do believe I approached it with the goal of spending the least amount of time “getting ready to get ready to get ready” as possible.
That’s it for my approach to my Twinkling Star quilt project. The quilt top is at the quilter’s. Watch for a peek of the final reproduction of the Twinkling Star quilt in a future blog post.
We’d love to hear how you approach the management of your BIG quilt projects!