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:
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:
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.
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.