Irish blues

Celtic, Ireland, Freedom Fabric

I’m coming to terms with the love-hate relationship I seem to have with pre-printed panels and wasteful directions.

In 2012, I went to Ireland for the first time, to attend the First Annual International Irish Quilt Festival. While there, I attended a workshop with Freedom Fabrics designer, Bryan Taphouse. While the workshop was not as I expected, there was interesting information on the process of creating a fabric line. One of the quilts he had brought to display was made with their newest colours in the Celtic range. You can see the green version here in the top right corner just behind him:

Freedom Fabrics, IQFOI
Bryan Taphouse of Freedom Fabrics

Like many others, I was awed by the beautiful works of the Book of Kells and how that had been translated to the fabric medium.  It was quite striking and I noted where to buy the fabric at the Festival and the website with the pattern. Once at home again, I would take the fabrics out occasionally to admire them but they stayed an unstarted project for another two months.

In early September, I went to my regular annual quilt retreat with local friends, taking several projects. I decided to start with the Celtic Collection top, which had a good bit of fussy-cutting. Following the pattern, I figured out really quickly that something wasn’t quite right. When fussy cutting the panel, the blocks did not fit as neatly as shown in the completed pattern. These are pictures from the pattern & the panel:

Freedom Fabrics, Celtic Collection
Celtic Blues Quilt by Freedom Fabrics



You can clearly see that the images on the panel are not all the same size, nor can you cut them to be the right size, even with the background design. While someone had made the mock-up at the workshop, and truthfully, I did not examine it closely, it was not accurately reflected in the pattern, nor were we informed at the time that the pattern was slightly different than shown. It was evident that no one could have actually made the mockup on the pattern because it was physically impossible with the blocks printed as they were. Photoshop at its best! 🙁  There were 32 images on the panel. If I took out the ones that did not fit properly, I would be short 6 blocks to make the quilt! So I did a bit of piecing to get the ones I wanted, in the best way possible, but I was unhappy about it.

With this frustration, I moved on to the rest of the cutting instructions. I needed 93 1-inch wide strips, cut into various lengths. I cut a few of the required lengths & realised that there was a good bit of waste. So I thought I’d try one block to see how it went. Simple enough it seemed, a variation on a log cabin sort of thing. But no. By the time I’d done one full block, an hour had passed and quite a few coins would’ve been added to the “Cuss Bucket” if we’d had one. I had 15 more to go. Oh, there was going to be some improv going on with those directions! I made a few tweaks to the instructions, chain pieced wherever I could and tried to make an assembly-line feature out of this hot mess.

I wasn’t impressed with the original instructions with many strips that created a waste. There was an  enormous amount of time & fiddling necessary to get it fussy cut as well. I think I would’ve rather had the final product as a full printed panel because then I could have concentrated on the quilting instead of piecing all those stinking 1-inch wide strips and pieced bits.  In the end, I admit that I think the top is beautiful. I also admit that I’ll probably be the only one noticing the Frankenstein patchwork.

Celtic, Ireland, Freedom Fabric
Celtic Irish Blues

It’s taken me over a year to look at this quilt top again. I like a challenge sometimes but these instructions nearly did my head in and it’s not THAT complicated a layout. I don’t think patterns should make you feel like it would have been easier to toss the instructions and start over. I appreciate all the work that goes into creating accurate patterns and know that sometimes it’s not easy. Living overseas does not give me the liberty to run out & get the latest pre-cut or more of the same when I run out so I try to be pretty frugal with my stash.  I get annoyed when I waste a lot of fabric and time due to cutting and piecing strategies.  Let me take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all of you who take the time to have other folks test your patterns and THANK YOU to the pattern testers too.

So now on to the quilting, which will be done on my longarm. Since it’s taken me so long to even look at it again, I’m trying to do it with fresh eyes but would love some inspiration from your suggestions. It will have a black minkee-type backing and the same for binding. How would you quilt it?


By the way, I’ll be doing a “Build Your Blog” post this coming Saturday (25 January). I hope you’ll stop back in and comment for the chance to win a twin (single) size batting from Quilter’s Dream. For now, I’ll be linking up with the good folks at:

Do drop in and see the beautiful things everyone else is up to.

Happy quilting!

Hearts 1st Sig White-sm


Follow on Bloglovin


16 thoughts on “Irish blues

  1. Joanne says:

    This sounds like an exercise in frustration, but I’m glad you persevered and finally got a lovely quilt top out of it. I’m looking forward to seeing how you quilt it. No ideas here, sorry!

  2. Connie says:

    What a beautiful quilt and fabric but I understand your frustration about the pattern and especially the panels not being the right size. I’m glad you kept with it and can’t wait to see how you quilt it.

  3. Pat says:

    This fabric is beautiful. I am going to have to go on an online hunt to see if I can find it available here in the USA. If I do, I will not be making a quilt using those instructions. If I were quilting it, I might try to use the lines an motifs in the designs in the panel when quilting. I find I have to study a quilt up close before quilting. I am sure whatever you decide to do will be lovely … 🙂 Pat

  4. wendy says:

    it is very beautiful, but how i hate instructions that don’t work. There are so many free patterns out there that if you’re going to sell patterns, they have to be right!

  5. Emma says:

    Ouch how frustrating. I’m glad you’ve found a way to put a quilt top together with all of those challenges. It really is frustrating when there are so many errors in a pattern.

  6. Paula says:

    Pattern testers are defintiely very important in the pattern development business. Well done on creating a very beautiful quilt from what could have been a complete disaster.

  7. Kathyinozarks says:

    oh wow I applaud you for knowing how to fix the mess and sticking to it-I would have cried and never gotten a quilt top from it. I hope you contacted the designer-as this pattern sounds like it should not be on the market-especially the fabric that was not correct.
    I am visiting from lets bee social

  8. Sara says:

    ACKKK!! I would be in an upheaval too with a stubborn,not well thought out pattern that originally I loved:( I agree that pattern testers are a must!

    What a learning lesson that turned out incredibly amazing!!! I love the black borders. Maybe quilt some wavy lines or curly “q” designs something curvy perhaps.

  9. mrsgoodneedle says:

    I think it’s absolutely lovely, Elita! I can understand (and relate to) your frustration over poor instructions! I think I would quilt some type of elongated Celtic knot design in each of those setting rectangles, what a striking setting design for those pretty spotlight blocks. I won’t ask you to share the directions, though! 😉

  10. Lorna McMahon says:

    Well, Frank… If it’s any consolation, your finished quilt top is just stunning! And I think it is wonderful that you persevered! I totally agree that their shabby attempts to design a pattern without having it tested and misleading everyone to believe it could be made as shown is shameful! I did a similar design here…
    and here….
    And I made a pattern for the later. It was a simple design. I am surprised they could create instructions that were not accurate or to the best use of the fabric. How to quilt this? All over motif would be easiest. What motif… I don’t know!

  11. Gina says:

    Well, I hope that it turns into something you love after it’s quilted. But if not… You can always send it my way. I am sure I can find a comfortable spot for it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.