Geese in Flight Quilt

I mentioned this in a recent post, but over my Spring Break, I made it a goal to finish up three quilts that were laying around my sewing room partially completed, and I actually succeeded in getting all three done! Here’s the first.

All I needed to do over Spring Break on this quilt was hand-sew the binding, but it’s a twin-size quilt, so it took me ~8 hours. And that is precisely why I procrastinated on finishing the binding for about two months. But that is basically how this quilt has come together—I would work on it for a while, approach a step that stumped me or seemed to onerous at the time, and then set it aside for a good chunk of time until I was ready to pick it back up. And with a quilt, why not do precisely that? Unlike a garment, there’s no chance my measurements are going to change before I come back to it. No chance that it will go out of style or be the wrong season by the time that I finish it.

I actually worked on this piece for two years. I saw a post from Anna Graham of Noodle-Head showing this exact quilt, which is worked up in prints from her Driftless collection with Robert Kaufman. I had been talking about making us a “picnic quilt” to take camping with us or to lay down in the grass, but I couldn’t pick a pattern or fabric. And then when I saw this, I knew it was exactly what I wanted and when I saw a kit for the quilt posted on Instagram, I bought it immediately. I think that was January or February 2020? In March, when we were all sent home, this quilt was the very first project I started working on.

To me, this quilt represents a ton of learning. It was basically my crash course in quilting. Prior to starting this, I had made one baby-size quilt for Jude that involved just sewing together pre-cut strips from a jelly roll. So that project familiarized me with the basics of the quilting process but didn’t require that I really learn any more precise or specific quilting skills that would help me with more complex projects. (It also didn’t make me fall in love with quilting. I was happy with the quilt when it was finished but had no real desire to launch into another quilting project until I got the kit for this one.)

So when I started this quilt, I had never used a rotary cutter, cut fabric for a quilt, followed a quilt pattern, pieced together quilt blocks, trimmed quilt blocks to size, arranged blocks for the top, or had to worry about a scant ¼” seam. I could have slowly built up some of these skills by working through more simple patterns or by seeking out more formal guidance through a class or videos or a book. But instead I just launched into this pattern (which is clearly marked as an intermediate level pattern) and learned by making mistakes and encountering problems and then having to figure out how to solve them. It’s not everyone’s preferred method, but it is incredibly effective.

Spot the photo assistant. Lol.

This is one of those pieces where, up close, I can see all the mistakes and the imperfections. But I also don’t really care about them. For one thing, they aren’t actually visible from a distance. For another thing, none of those imperfections will have any impact on how much we use and appreciate this quilt. But more importantly, through all of those mistakes, I learned a ton. I fell in love with the process. I feel like this is the quilt that made me a quilter.

The Details:

  • Pattern: Geese in Flight by Jeni Baker
  • Fabric: various prints from the Driftless collection (which was printed on Essex linen–I don’t think its available anymore) plus Kona Cotton in Gotham for the top and binding, Interrupted Signal print from the Art Gallery Star Gazer collection for the backing
  • Batting: bamboo/cotton blend
  • Quilting: Horizontal straight-line quilting (done with a walking foot) done at ¾” intervals
  • Size: Twin size (~70″ x 85″)

Reviving the blog . . . again

I can’t remember the last time I made a post, but I appreciate that this little blogging space is available for me whenever I’m ready to write again. I got very burned out with blogging when I was struggling to find time and light and space to take photos of me wearing the things I’ve made. And I think it didn’t help that I felt like every post needed to be about a new finished project. Stepping away from the blog for a bit has helped me re-envision what I can use my blog for and how I can make blogging work for my life now. So I’m hoping that I can post more regularly about whatever I have in progress and that I can get over my fear of inconveniencing Aidan and just ask him to take pictures of me when I’ve finished a garment.

Although, I am not actually sewing or knitting any garments for myself at the moment. This is mostly because I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second child, and I have no desire to make new maternity garments. But it’s also because the idea of making clothes feels very pointless to me right now given that I have no where to go. I don’t even feel motivated to sew clothes for Jude. In general, the stress of the pandemic and all the news, and the difficulty of working from home while taking care of a  2.5 year old has sort of shifted and tilted my interests. I was reading a ton, but I haven’t read anything since they announced that our classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester. Jude and I have been baking together at least a couple of times a week. I don’t care that much about tv, but I’ve been enjoying playing Animal Crossing. I only want to knit with bright colors. And I’ve been spending my sewing time working on a quilt.

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We did a lot of camping last summer and realized that we needed a picnic/beach quilt that we could take with us on our trips. Early this year, I saw a quilt that Anna Graham made with fabrics from her new Driftless collection and I absolutely loved it. And then she shared a post on Instagram about a shop selling kits for the same quilt and I bought it right away. The quilt pattern is the Geese in Flight pattern by Jeni Baker, which uses a really interesting (and probably easier) no-waste method for creating the flying geese blocks.

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The pattern is rated as “beginner friendly,” which I think is accurate, but that does not mean that it hasn’t been challenging. I have made precisely one quilt prior to this–a crib-sized quilt for Jude that simply involved sewing pre-cut jelly roll strips together. It was basically the tote bag of the quilting world. So I’ve never had to cut blocks before or had to do any serious piecing, and this pattern requires both. When it comes to garment sewing, I am pro-shears all the way. So I had to buy myself my first rotary cutter, which came with it’s own learning curve (although I’ve only given myself two minor cuts, so that’s something). Cutting squares from 15 fat quarters and the background fabric took me at least two and a half weeks–largely because I have had to work every weekend since classes went online, which means my only sewing time has been brief nightly sessions after Jude goes to bed.

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I thought that once I had the blocks cut out, piecing would go much faster, but that was a patently stupid assumption. I thought I was using a 1/4″ foot, but it was not, and I ended up having to rip out my first set of blocks and re-sew them, which took forever. So frustrating! But they have been salvaged, and the subsequent sets of blocks have been much more successful. Each fat quarter ends up yielding 4 of the larger triangle blocks and 4 of the multi-triangle blocks. I have been really taking my time and trying to be precise after my first big screw up, so while I’ve gotten into a rhythm and things are starting to move a bit faster, the piecing is still going very slowly. At this point, I have four and half sets of blocks (out of fifteen total) done.

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Since I don’t have a bunch of other projects that are calling my name, this slow pace doesn’t bother me, and I’m actually finding it kind of soothing to keep working through the same set of steps over and over. It’s also nice to be able to see my piecing getting a little bit more precise with each set of blocks. My plan is to keep chipping away at this through the rest of the month. I’m hoping I can piece the whole top together in that time, but we’ll see what happens.

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Where ever I’m at when June begins, this project will go on hold so I can start yet another quilt–this time, a baby quilt (using the Clava Quilt pattern) for baby #2. I want to make sure that it will get done before he gets here.