I discovered not so long ago that I am much more motivated to sew productively when I have a deadline. For example when doing a class, or when I am making something that is a gift for a particular date, and so forth. Armed with this newfound knowledge, I decided to go forth into 2015 and commit myself to as many projects as possible.
One of the great things about quilting in the 21st century is that we can use the internet to connect with (read: compete with) other quilters. One of the popular forms of networking is the Block Of The Month club. This can be super organized, where you pay money and get instructions and fabric and all sorts... or it can just be something you join in online and follow a program with other quilters, so that you are all working on the same thing at the same time.
One of my favorite fabric shops, The Intrepid Thread, announced a BOM for a very popular new book by Elizabeth Hartman. Elizabeth is highly revered in the modern quilting community, and has written several books about patchwork quilting, as well as writing a great blog with lots of wonderful tutorials.
Patchwork City is full of blocks which Elizabeth has designed herself (75 to be exact) and there are patterns for six sampler quilts using the blocks. The Intrepid Thread's club includes the book, plus each month you get a parcel with fabric to make several blocks. Throughout the year the club works its way through all of the blocks required to assemble the quilt. There was a choice of two different quilts from the book, and I chose the Westside quilt. Two of the ladies who were in the Angled class with me last year are also doing it.
We won't be making the exact quilt that Elizabeth made (above) as getting those fabrics would be impossible, but we'll do something something similar. The IT Westside quilt will use Cotton & Steel prints.
I received my book and the background/sashing fabric last year, and my first parcel of print fabrics a few weeks ago. There is also a newsletter and a Flickr group (which is the general IT one) and a hashtag to use on Instagram.
This is my first BOM club and I think maybe my expectations were a bit high. I was hoping for a bit more guidance on construction from the ladies at IT, and also a bit more of a community vibe online. Maybe things will take a while to warm up.
I haven't done that much intricate patchwork before - the type that requires paper piecing or templates, so this is new territory for me. I have been studying the book, and Elizabeth recently did a webinar for the Modern Quilt Guild that I attended. Her inspiration for the blocks was Portland, the city where she lives (and hence the book title) - so the blocks have names like "Emergency Exit", "Lobby" and "Onramp". I decided that I wanted to keep that urban kind of feeling in my fabric choices, and I have quite a few cool architectural fabrics in my stash. When I got the first bundle of fabrics from IT, I was a little disappointed. Love C&S prints, but I didn't think the ones they chose worked so well for my design. I think I will just pick and choose and use a mix of the IT BOM fabric choices, and stuff from my stash.
I started in earnest today, and spent quite a lot of time rereading Elizabeth's instructions about how to use templates, as well as pondering my fabric choices. Eventually I think I found my direction, and started cutting.
A few things I will definitely recommend to anyone doing a quilt like this for the first time. I'm going to give you some links to Amazon because that's where I bought most of the products, but I am sure many other stores have them available.
- Printable freezer paper sheets
- Many of the blocks require templates, and buying these sheets is so much easier than cutting up the stuff in rolls from the supermarket. Plus they are stickier. There is a link to a pdf you can download for the templates in the book (so that you don't have to bother tracing the patterns at the back).
- Add-A-Quarter rulers - 12inch and 6 inch sizes
- Because the templates do not include the seam allowances, and using a regular quilting ruler to add them is a pain in the jacksie. These have a little ledge on them that catches on the template so it's quick to line up and cut your fabric with the quarter inch seam added.
- Rotating cutting mat
- I have this 8 inch one and it's perfect for the small pieces in this quilt.
- Disappearing ink marker
- It really helps to mark the points as Elizabeth demonstrates in the book.
- Good flat head pins
- It also really helps to use pins, which I am generally allergic to. Good thin ones with a flat head make it easier to maneuver these small pieces.
This is definitely going to be a challenge for me. I like to move quickly and I like to make progress with my projects. This is going to force me to slow down and do a lot of precision work. I hope that I can stick with it! I will definitely need some encouragement I'm sure.
And so here is my first block, the "Forest Park". The second block I need to do is the "Elevator". Five of the nine fabrics I used came from IT with the BOM pack, the others are from my stash.
One of the things I noticed about the quilts in Elizabeth's book is that there are few stand-out fabrics which repeat throughout many of the blocks. I think this gives the overall design some continuity, so that is what I am striving for. My block came out a bit short of the 8.5 inches that it should be at this stage - I thought I was using good scant 1/4 seams, but I think I need to be more mindful of that on future blocks. I'm quite pleased with the result though!
I hope this info is useful to anyone else doing a Patchwork City quilt, or any similar projects for the first time.
What are you working on at the moment?