2/2/14

Maintaining my Sanity


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It's a rough job--maintaining my sanity--but someone has to do it. It's questionable whether I'm accomplishing it, I know. Of course I'm referring to the process of making the next section for the Wind in the Whiskers quilt. Here is the section I'm making right now. It's called "I Spy". And since I'm making the whole quilt, what I'm working on now is just the center section without the two borders.


The key to maintaining one's sanity with this quilt is to focus on just one step at a time. Don't look back woefully about what you might have done better, and don't look ahead with apprehension about what you have yet to do. Just do one thing at a time and celebrate each little completion as you go. I figured this out when I did the first section, but I had to remind myself when I started on this part.

On Thursday, I just barely got started by cutting the background...scary in and of itself...and then I started just the first couple of applique pieces. 


If you look at the image of the whole quilt


you can see that the I Spy section has leaves and flowers overlapping from the section above, and so I won't add those pieces until I get to the fourth section. The same was true for the first section, "Laundry Day".


Look again at the image of the whole quilt, and you'll see that there is quite a bit of overlap from the sections around this one, and that the clothesline is completely left out. It will be added when the quilt is finished.

So that brings me to yesterday's work. I started by focusing on making the little chickadee, and only the little chickadee. No fair peeking at those complicated flower sections at the bottom of the block. And I'm using a pressing sheet to create the whole bird from nine separate itty bitty pieces. The pressing sheet allows me to fuse them to one another while maintaining the ability to fuse the whole to the background fabric when I'm ready. You can see my little mini-tutorial about this right here. So here goes. I made the chickadee:


Then I made the cat from eight separate pieces:


Then the birdhouse from 11 different pieces:


Fourteen pieces if you count the pole. Then I took the first tentative steps of beginning to fuse things directly to the background fabric. This is where I really start to hold my breath and hope for the best. A better strategy would probably be to continue breathing. 

So here's the pole:


And then I added the rest of the birdhouse:


And then, the cat and the bird.


And here's what I had up to that point.


So far, so good. Now, it's safe to start looking at the flowers, and when I did, I realized that all of the flowers wrapped around the pole can be looked at individually without looking at the other flowers growing across the bottom of the piece. Here are the first ones, starting from the bottom.


Then I added the next parts of the vine and the next flower moving up the pole.


It was time to stop here for the day. So here's where I'll pick it up today.


Those flower head pins at the top of the pole are to remind me that  approximately a two-inch section is not yet fused down. The clothesline will go there, and it won't be fused until the end. Since I'm sure I won't remember that, I put those pins there so that I'll know not to iron over it.

So, I'm feeling pretty good about what I've accomplished so far on this. No big problems yet. The hardest part is having those tiny little pieces curl up, and that makes fusing them in the exact correct spot a little more challenging, but I'm getting it done. Using tweezers really helps. 

Also (and maybe this is obvious to some of you, but I had to learn it myself), when you're cutting those teensy little pieces and around those teensy little curves, it helps to keep the scissors in one place and use the tweezers to hold and rotate the piece you're cutting. Accuracy is very much improved that way. And avoid opening and closing the scissors too much. Just open them and keep cutting until the blades are completely closed, then open them again. I hope that makes sense. Probably any kindergartner knows this, but it's been a long time since I was a kindergartner. This old dog has to relearn some old tricks.

So that's it from me. Onward and upward with the birdhouse pole. I'm hoping I'll get the rest of this done today, but it's hard to estimate with so many little pieces. It is a challenge, but I'm counting on a gorgeous quilt when I'm finished that will make it all worthwhile.


22 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

I really love this quilt and you are doing a nice job with the appliqu├ęs. I am bad at placement, would hate to see what would happen with me trying it, lol.

Debbie

Julianne said...

Wow! What a lot of work but I think you are right, it will be worth it in the end when you have a lovely quilt! Those kittys are just so cute..wish I had your patience!

dq said...

This quilt is really amazing. I love "picture quilts" as I call them because they look like a painting. Your work is so intricate, and dedication is a must.

Marei said...

doing a great job with this and it shows!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I would say you are controlling your(in)sanity quite well - lovely piece and your are doing just fantastic.

Sher S. said...

WOW!!! I'm impressed with all this fantastic work. You are better than me, I'd have freaked out by now. That looks stressful. You will have a beautiful quilt once finished and definitely something to be very proud of. I haven't done any quilts this time consuming, but have done smaller ones. They still take time and concentration to complete. Bravo!!!!!

Junebug613 said...

It looks amazing! You're doing an excellent job! There sure are a lot of tiny pieces. Yes, I could see where tweezers would become one of your most valuable tool. I'd be tempted to try cutting out some of the tiny parts with my X-acto knife, but that's the miniaturist in me.

Swedish Scrapper said...

This is fascinating Barbara! I think you are definitely keeping your sanity! Wonderful to see the steps. Thank you!

Kate said...

It's looking good. I'm amazed at all the small pieces. Those would drive me insane. You definitely seem to be coping well.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I was wondering how hard these were and that settles it, it's hard. I think I will just sit back and watch you complete this!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Wonderful work. Love the kitty, but don't let it get the sweet bird...giggle.

Cath said...

it is looking good!
Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

Tami C said...

You are really doing a wonderful job on this one! I'm just sitting back and watching you do it. Maybe in a couple of years, I'll be able to do mine.

Harriett said...

You are amazing and inspire me all the time. Love your quilt

Brown Family said...

Looking good. Now I an weary of starting after putting 33 tiny pieces together for a Bluebonnet!

~ Toni ~ said...

I've oohed all the way down this post, which is almost as much as the first time I saw it in the catalogue. I will be back to do more oohing :)

Lyndsey said...

Beautiful work Barbara. You have made excellent progress and it looks amazing.

Vivian said...

I like watching the piece by piece design on this quilt. I always look forward to it when you post it. I also do complicated applique quilts and also just take 1 piece at a time them I am amazed when I am able to fuse things on the background piece and see what I accomplished. I do wait until all the pieces on the block are complete before I fuse anything. I just put every piece aside (like the chickadee and pole) then fuse them all at once. But mistakes happen and only you will know about them. Good luck and enjoy the process.

Mary Huey said...

Charming quilt -- I don't have cats in my feeders, but a troop of squirrels instead!?!

Gina said...

That will be stunning. Confession time...I started a McKenna Ryan quilt years ago but gave up. Wish I'd kept going as I love her quilts xxx

Michele said...

You are an expert at these kids of projects and it looks fantastic so far. There is no way I'd try to do that.

quiltzyx said...

Yes, you are going to have a gorgeous quilt when you're done.

One summer in the dark ages, I stayed with some family friends for a few weeks, and 'Mom' worked for a place called "Windecor" (or something close to that). They made these faux stained glass sticker sort of things that you could put onto your windows - especially good for sliding glass doors so people wouldn't accidentally walk thru' them. They were vinyl & the inside of the black outlines (leading) were die cut, then the colored parts were actually painted in. At first they hand-cut the outside of the black "leading" & I helped do that while I was there (free labor!). That's when I learned the whole trick of holding the scissors still & moving the piece. Sometimes I even remember that too! lol