The Reproduction Gypsy Wife has been languishing for quite a time in a basket in my studio. Last year (!) I did all sorts of elaborate planning for the construction including colouring in the locations of all the pieced blocks on copies of the lay-out, so that I wouldn’t have two matching fabrics abutting in the blocks, and then I got busy with other things, and never seemed to have the time or the peace of mind to tackle cutting all those strips. Of course the Quilt-along where all this started is well and truly over, but I still have a quilt to finish!
I have been cutting and sewing, so it is time for a progress update. The construction of the quilt is divided into 10 sections. They have a number of weird overlaps and the diagrams are not printed to scale: the challenge of course, is to get the vertical strips running in the same place through each section, so that when the sections are finally sewn together to form the top, the strips line up. Logically, one might think ‘begin with section 1’, but I have begun with section 10, followed by 9 and 8. The reason for this is that working left-to-right just feels more natural to me, but more importantly strips in section 1 need to be aligned with strips in4 other sections below it, whereas strips in section 10 only have to line up with two, side-by side above it, 9 and 8, so wrangling the strips is easier.
I cut the strips for sections 10, 9 and 8 at the same time, so that I knew I had enough of each fabric to make the necessary strips. I made sure, in my choice of patterned fabrics that a patterned strip never abuts a pieced square of the same colour, to prevent ‘mussing’ of the design lines. I tried to distribute colours fairly evenly in the strips: varying hue and tone. I marked each cut strip with yellow highlighter and penciled a hint for myself in each of the strips on my printout ‘green’ ‘pink swirls’ everywhere where the strip appears in the pattern, to help keep track of what is going on. This proved useful later, when I was asking myself “was it blue then yellow, or yellow then blue?”
Within a section it is not too difficult to keep an overview of the colour progression and balance; over the whole top it is more of a challenge. I had cut the first few strips for sections 5 and 6 (which abut sections 10 and 8) when I realised that I no longer was certain what it would look like when it was all sewed together. So I am sewing together sections 8, 9 and 10 before I cut any more strips. I hope in that way to ensure that I keep a good variety across the top, and, just as with the blocks, avoid ending up with all browns and blues towards the end! I don’t want to repeat any fabrics in the strips.
I cut the first couple of strips the exact length needed, but then it occurred to me that as I was cutting almost entirely from fat-quarters that I didn’t need to do that if I didn’t mind wasting a small bit of extra fabric: I just cut a strip the length of the fat quarter (where that was long enough). Sometimes I needed to add to my strip to make it long enough: I did that with a diagonal seam, which is hardly visible. As I cut the strips, I hung them on my design wall.
The strips are sewn together in groups within each section, and then sewn to the blocks and each other. I first sewed my groups of strips together, and only then cut them to the correct length: this was much easier than cutting every strip individually to the correct length, and meant that where there were several groups of different lengths with the same strip combination, I could make one long group and then sub-cut. This saved a lot of time, and meant the cut strip groups were nice and accurate.
Then I sewed the groups and blocks together, and now I have section 10 complete! When the loose strips were hanging on the design wall, it looked like a dog’s breakfast of colours and patterns, but I am pleased with how it is coming together.
Sections 9 and 8 to follow…