Piecing a quilt top on my dining room table

I accomplished one of my goals — piecing a quilt top — during the library’s unpaid furlough week.  I started this project years ago, and finally got 16 Bear Paw blocks pieced.  The pattern, called “Big Bear Lodge” by Country Threads, actually called for 35 Bear Paw blocks, but I decided to make a wall hanging instead of a bed quilt so I could stop after 16 blocks.  And then those 16 blocks sat in a pile for even more months.  It definitely was time to finish this project.

I set up my sewing machine on the dining room table, plugged in the iron nearby, and got out my stash of red and off-white fabric scraps.  Then I sewed for a good part of three days.

First I sewed the 16 blocks together in a square separated by narrow strips of sashing.  Then I sewed 124 Flying Geese blocks, in assorted reds, for a border.  Each Flying Geese block is 1-inch x 2-inches in the final quilt, and it took me one full day to sew all these tiny blocks.  Finally, I sewed the Flying Geese blocks into strips and sewed them, as a border, around the Bear Paw blocks. 

I finished the piecing, but I’m still not quite done.  I still have to find batting and backing and hand quilt it.  That will be a project for this winter.

I think this is one of the prettiest quilt tops I’ve made! 

Sewing the Bear Paw blocks together with sashing

I always press each seam as I go.

Piecing 124 tiny Flying Geese blocks

The dining room floor while I'm working

We can't eat at the dining room table while I'm quilting.

Starting to sew the Flying Geese blocks together, then pressing flat

Assembling 31 Flying Geese blocks into a long strip for the border

And here's the pieced quilt top, called "Big Bear Lodge" by Country Threads

Beginning Again

January 2, 2010

Blocks and fabric for Bear Paw Quilt

Completed blocks for Bear Paw Quilt

I’ve been meaning to make a red and white Bear Paw quilt for many years.  I started these blocks over five years ago, and managed to assemble ten 7 x 7-inch blocks before setting them aside.  (I will need 35 Bear Paw blocks for the entire quilt.)  I’m usually good at finishing projects that I start, but not this one.  I’m not sure why I got side-tracked.

This particular Bear Paw pattern uses very small bits of fabric, and perhaps the intensity of working with such tiny pieces was difficult to sustain.  I have since learned the “square-in-a-square” technique for making the triangular pieces, and if I convert the pattern to accommodate this technique, I think the piecing will go faster.

I have learned, however, that speed is not really a satisfying part of making a quilt.  It’s the process itself that is satisfying — working with my hands, choosing fabrics from my scrap pile, the rhythms and repetition of sewing seams, building something substantial through small incremental steps.  I know I can finish this quilt if I work on it a little at a time.

I had the week off work between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and I thought several times of starting work on this quilt.  But I couldn’t overcome my inertia.  Sometimes I need a break from being productive, and the dark of winter seemed a good time for my dormancy.

But now that we are in the new year, I want to turn my attention to finishing this quilt.  If I accomplish this one project in 2010, I will be satisfied.  And if I’m lucky, by simply starting again, I might get my creative energies going for the next project, and the next one.  That’s the way it goes, one stitch at a time.