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Quilting UFOs and Mystery Quilts

If I had known what a lousy quilter I was in 2000, I would have quit quilting and found a different hobby. Haha. Eighteen years later, I’m still at it.

When I lived in Minnesota, there were often quilt retreats to attend with my friends. This particular retreat had a mystery quilt that I thought I would participate in. It was my first, and probably my last. I didn’t finish this quilt because I was overwhelmed with it. We pieced together a bazillion 2-1/2 inch four-patches and another bazillion 2-1/2 inch half-square triangles (hst). Why so many hsts?  Because we then proceeded to sew them together into flying geese.

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For some reason, this highly irritated me. The other reason I did not finish this quilt was that the thought of quilting that large, blank snowball block scared me to death. So it got put away and I hauled it out once, sewed four rows together and put it away again. Fast forward to 2017.

I still love the fabrics and colors I chose for this quilt so I decided to just finish it. I think it was originally going to be at least a twin-sized quilt, but I decided to make two smaller quilts instead. The remaining four-patches and hsts were not quite 2-1/2 inches square so I did a lot of ripping and repiecing and finally got enough units put together to finish the 8-1/2 inch pieced alternate blocks.

Side note on snowball blocks: The prevailing method in the past for snowball blocks was to sew diagonally across a square at each corner and only trim away the middle triangle, thus ensuring that the original base square would remain at the prescribed measurement (8-1/2 inches square in this case). The problem with this is there is a lot of bulk at the corners. I did not rip apart the four rows I had constructed, but I did go in and cut away all of the triangles from the remaining snowballs and made yet more hsts from these triangles.

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Lesson Numero Uno: Always check to make sure you are sewing an accurate ¼-inch seam so you don’t suffer the agony of defeat (yes, I know the Olympics are over).

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Kudos to the Duluth Curling Club for bringing home the gold and to all the other wonderful athletes who participated in PyeongChang.

Lesson Αριθμός 2: Quit with the mean tweets.

So I put together two quilts but had to wait until last week for the weather to warm up enough so I could spray baste them outside. This quilt is called Starway to Heaven but I’ve come to think of it as Paved Road to Hell.

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In the meantime, I decided to work on this small baby quilt, adding borders and quilting diagonal straight lines in the center and on the first blue border. Those are prairie points sewn randomly into the seams and a creative border because I didn’t have enough yardage.

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Then I had to take my Janome in for regular maintenance, I felt that the needle bar was once again not centered, and I just couldn’t get the tension right for free-motion quilting on this quilt. I only needed to quilt that last border but nooooooo—wasn’t going to happen. At least I had something to do while waiting for my machine: rip out the six inches of quilting that I thought was going to be okay.

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Lesson Troisième partie: Always have something to do when you take your machine in for service.

Suffice to say, I need to practice my free-motion quilting again so I can finish this little quilt and then I need to decide how to quilt those snowball blocks. If all else fails, I can echo the octagonal shape.

Lesson Nummer Vier: Never leave more than three quilting projects unfinished. This creates the Unfinished Object (UFO) Nightmare. I think this is my third year trying to complete my UFOs. Of course, if I wouldn’t make charity blocks for donation quilts, or participate in challenges, or stop everything to try a new technique, or stop to cook/clean/do the wash/exercise… But where is the fun in that! Till next time, work on that ¼-inch seam allowance. Unless you’re doing improv piecing, it really does matter. Or does it?

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