Thursday, March 31, 2011

Intricate, Long Piecing Projects

I have a friend who doesn't like to make the same block over and over again, but as quilters, it's hard for us to get away from doing that unless we want to fill our homes with samplers. Still, I think most of us get bored making the same block again and again, don't we? Over time, I've found ways to sort of fool myself and cope with the tedious repetition.

The pieced border I'm making for the applique basket quilt is one of those projects that are designed to induce boredom--29 fiddly little pieces in each block, and I need to make 36 of them. ARGH!

I find that the best way to tackle a project like this--a project that is repetitive and one that will take a long, long time to complete--is to make a manageable number of blocks at a time. That way, I get a little semi-instant gratification every so often.

By making several blocks at a time, I've managed to finish and attach two of the floral borders to the applique quilt. Want to see part of one of them?


I think it's coming along nicely, and I'm certainly glad I didn't first cut all my pieces, and then sew all of the blocks A to blocks B, yada, yada, yada. Of course, I still have 18 blocks left to piece, so I'm only half way there and it took the best part of the weekend to get this far.

When I start a project that I know will be this long, I'll start by cutting what seems like a reasonable number of pieces--I don't really count them except maybe a few of the main pieces; for the smaller pieces, though, I'll cut a strip and then subcut it into squares and get started. (When I get closer to the number of blocks I need, THEN I'll count how many pieces I'm cutting.)

In the photo below, you can see mostly a lot of piles of cut pieces with a few of the individual sections already put together. That's another little thing I'll do--work on subsections once I've gotten bored with cutting fabric.


Here are some of those subsections I've put together--these are the center of the flower:


Next you'll see a photo where the petals have been added to the centers. And when I have a block like these floral chain blocks where there aren't any parts to really line up, I find the blocks go together best if I trim each subsection after sewing them like this--that's why the rotary cutter is in the photos.


Sometimes with a piecing job like this, I think it would be quicker to just do more applique instead, but I think it's looking good so far with the pieced flowers. This week after work, I've been cutting more pieces and making more subsections, and I'm nearly to the point where I can sew enough blocks together and then join them to make the third side of this border.

What do you find works best for you when you take on a long project like this?

15 comments:

Vickie E said...

so pretty. you have some serious patience! I would do the same as you. Finish enough for one side to see what it looks like and feel like I have 'gotten' somewhere with it.

Eileen said...

Looking good, Kim, keep up the good work..

Vicky said...

I set little goals. Cut and piece 10, or make all the centers like you've done, and then divide them up into four or five stacks. I don't get so bored, though, if I make them one at a time.

luv2quilt2 said...

I do just as you have, unless I think I may be short of fabric. In that case I do all the cutting so I know where I stand. My current project has a lot of small pieces, and requires 168 of most components. I'm doing them in groups of 10 or so.

Angie said...

I think that pieced border, fiddly pieces and all, is the PERfect 'ending' for this quilt. It really does add so much to it, and it was beautiful to start with. :) Nothing makes me happier than piecing mixed with applique. :)

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

WOW! The border brings everything together. Looks great!

LiahonaGirl said...

This quilt is simply fabulous! The borders add so much -- but they are clearly a lot of work. I do the same thing you do when I have to do a lot of the same block -- sew a few at a time (although I might do all of the cutting at one time, however). Also, since I rarely do quilt blocks using exactly the same fabrics, the fact that I've selected a ton of fabrics for a scrappy look does cut down on the tedium of doing the same block over and over.
Nancy
PS: 5 finishes officially completed in 2011

Synthia said...

I absolutely love this pieced border. It's perfect!! You continue to amaze me.

AnnieO said...

Love those Thimbleberries flowers! I do like to do the same, work on piecing a few blocks at a time. That makes all the other parts more tolerable too--the cutting, pressing, trimming, and assembling. I agree with the gratification factor of seeing finished work "as I go" instead of after hours of doing the same thing over and over. We human animals can only take so much routine :)

Shannon said...

What a great way to work on it. When I have many of the samething to make I will work on another project at the same time. I will go back and forth between the two. LOL!! Those flowers are the perfect addition to your quilt.

dianne said...

suh-weet!!! i am LOVING that border! really, really loving it!

Brandie said...

Music and chocolate! It's the only way to reduce boredom. So crank up the tunes and wiggle your fanny.

paula, the quilter said...

But Kim! It looks sooooo good. I like it when a border is not just a slab-o-border, do you know what I mean?

Sharon said...

Looking great. Glad it is you and not me messing with all those pieces and blocks for the borders. Anxious to see it all finished.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

I must admit to not adoring making the repeated intricate blocks, but that is REALLY pretty, love it! Tracey