quilt

Is This the Year Of the WIP?

WIPs on trays for portability and easy access.

WIPs on trays for portability and easy access.

Lately, I’ve felt compelled to finish my piles of WIPs before I have a chance to add even one more to their numbers. Today, I’m sharing helpful tools for organizing WIPs, and I’m inviting you to share your best tips for completion in the comments below. I’ve also made a place for us to share our WIPs and cheer each other to the finish line: #finishedwips2019. Join in the fun!

If the sheer number of online quilters posing the challenge to finish their WIPs this year is any indication, this just might be the Year Of the WIP! We all have them, and I’ve seen some excellent organizing and planning tools. For printed pages to document and track your WIP progress, Patchwork Posse offers this free set. Also, there’s the Quilter’s Planner. (I’m not paid for endorsing these products, I just appreciate them and want to share.) You can also make your own chart to suit your needs. While I don’t use one, I have a feeling there’s probably an app for this, too!

Arrowhead quilt blocks, machine pieced

Arrowhead quilt blocks, machine pieced

Here are four of my WIPs to tackle this year. I’ve made my own tracking page, and I’ve tacked it to my design wall so that it’s always in plain sight. I store my WIPs on trays, uncovered, on a bench in my studio. The portable trays are stored in the open within easy reach of the sewing machine or to take up to my hand sewing nest. I also store the spool(s) of thread, bobbin(s) and any instructions, notes and templates on each tray. It’s all about removing hurdles that could slow my progress.

Any amount of success is going to depend on finding the right storage and organizing methods for you. For example, I know that if I cover my WIPs or store them under a bed, I’ll forget they even exist, let alone where I put them, so I know I need to see them. It’s the same reason why I tack up my progress chart on my design wall. It can’t get misplaced, and it’s in plain sight to remind me to make the most of my sewing time.

Postage Stamp blocks, individual 1” squares, machine pieced

Postage Stamp blocks, individual 1” squares, machine pieced

Antique Stars, hand pieced

Antique Stars, hand pieced

My WIPS are a mix of techniques, and these four are my personal quilt projects rather than for my business. They have no deadline, and each was started because I was curious about the technique and the construction process. I like to have a project under way for each sewing method I enjoy, that way, what ever my mood or energy level there’s a project at the ready. I suppose that’s a double-edged sword.

You can see that I have a few methods represented, including machine piecing, hand piecing and English Paper piecing. As far as how each quilt will be quilted, I’ve decided to wait and see what’s best for each as the tops are completed.

My own “Liberty” Stars, English Paper Piecing

My own “Liberty” Stars, English Paper Piecing

My goal for steadily working on these is to try to sew for 30 minutes each morning before my day really gets under way, and then to sew for any amount of time on either Saturdays or Sundays. They say it takes 30 day for a new habit to become routine, so hopefully at the end of the month I’ll have some real progress to share.

Having said that, life happens and I’m not going to beat myself up if any of these are still staring at me from across the room in December; however, in the spirit of the Year Of the WIP, newly organized and with a sewing plan in place, I’m committed to giving it my best shot! How about you?

I’ll share my WIP journey here and on Instagram. Join in: #finishedwips2019! Before you go, in the comments below tell me how many WIPs you have, how you plan to tackle them or what stops you from working on them…after all, there’s safety in numbers!

#MakeDoQuilt Challenge

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

If you're a quilter and are on Facebook or Instagram, you likely know about Sherri Lynn Wood's #MakeDoQuilt Challenge. I'm joining the challenge, and sincerely hope you will, too! 

In a nutshell, Sherri Lynn's challenge to quilt makers is to make at least one quilt in a year's time using only found textiles; for example, discarded clothing and household linens, garage sale and thrift shop finds, clothing swaps with friends, etc.. She states that you get extra points for salvaging the batting and backing, too! Read Sherri Lynn's post for all the details and thoughtful back story: http://daintytime.net/2016/08/11/make-do-challenge/

Her challenge resonates with me on a few levels: as a quilter who loves a challenge; as a dyer who is seeking best practices for our health and the earth's health; as a textile artist who wants to leave as small a footprint as possible. I'm both compelled and excited to participate! Plus, there's tons of inspiration already happening on Instagram, #MakeDoQuilt, by other talented quilters joining in. What a great idea - thank you Sherri Lynn Wood!

This challenge already has me approaching the quilt process in a new way. I'm keenly aware of the variety of textures and weights of the fabrics I've pulled (photo above). The quantity of each fabric now plays an integral and critical part of the design process, designing according to what I have. Quilt strategy at its best!  

Pursuing my interest in feeling closer to our quilting heritage, I'm looking to antique quilts for design inspiration. Here are three from "The American Quilt" by Roderick Kiracofe: 

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going!    Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going! 

Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket!   Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket!

Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful.   Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful.

Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

In addition to pushing one's own creative limits, there's a second element to Sherri Lynn's challenge, and that is increasing one's awareness of the huge problem the world is facing regarding fabric, landfills and our soil and water supply.

Overconsumption is a problem for us all. As a quilter, if the making of even one quilt can begin to affect change, then I'm all in. Every effort counts! Recently, I posted about how each piece of cloth is handled here in the studio, and the truth is, every scrap is accounted for. None of it goes in the trash. 

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

I'll post my #MakeDoQuilt updates here and on my IG feed. Do you have any questions for me? Are you participating, too? Let's get some conversation going, and I'd love to hear and see how you're meeting the #MakeDoQuilt Challenge!