Monday, August 20, 2012

Streak of Lightning QAL -- My Apologies

I am not a natural Leader.

Part of my problem is that I assume that everyone is just like me. In the specific case of this QAL that means I've assumed these things:

1. That everyone owns the book Bold Improvisation.
2. That everyone has been studying for years the Streak of Lightning quilt in that book.
3. That everyone is bad at following pattern instructions & for that reason has become accustomed to figuring their own way of making a quilt that they admire.

So, I want to step back & attempt to provide more guidance for everyone who isn't me.

Because we are re-creating our own versions of a quilt from a book, an *old* quilt from a book, there isn't an existing pattern. When I look at a quilt, especially if I think I would like to make it myself & sometimes even when I don't, the first thing I do is look for is the Unit Cell, the repeating unit -- the block -- that makes up the quilt. For this Streak of Lightning, it is a 9-patch made up of half-square-triangles. The blocks are oriented so the zigzags go up & down rather than side to side. I'll talk more about making the half-square-triangles (HSTs) in another post.

Another thing we don't have when we're making our own way through a quilt on our own is specific fabric requirements. You have to get used to the facts that you are either going to have fabric left over (yay! stash!) or -- horrors! -- not have enough. This has happened to me lots of times. At first, I'll hit some quilt shops & hope I can find more of the used-up fabric. When I can't find more, I often put the project away for a while. But I'm forced to think through the "problem" creatively & I can sometimes come up with a solution that makes the quilt even more interesting than had I not run out of fabric.

On reflection, my goal for this QAL, is not just making this awesome quilt. But it is also, for those who aren't used to making quilts without a pattern, for them to learn to trust that they can look at a quilt, analyze it, & figure their own way to make it their Own. It may not be a painless process -- I've made made *plenty* of really stupid mistakes along the way, but I do learn from them (most of the time). It may not be an easy process -- I've often re-invented the wheel, something I could have avoided had I just read the first paragraph of a pattern. But I think these are valuable skills to have as a quilter. So I hope this will be the Streak of Lightning, Learning & Growing QAL!


Nifty Quilts said...

You are so right. Half the fun is figuring out the pattern of an old quilt on your own. I think that's what they had to do, back in the day. So it's fun to try to figure out how THEY figured it out!

Rachaeldaisy said...

I'm with you. I'm really bad at following patterns anyway. I've tried a couple of sizes for my triangles and have settled on 4 inch sewn and then cut diagonally. and I tried a few methods of sewing the HSTs which I've been meaning to do for a while too. This has all been part of the fun!! Don't you just love looking at pictures of quilts and picking The Block, some are quite surprising. Thanks for the QAL!

cauchy09 said...

i love your explanation of the normal organic quilting process. it's a much more fun way to do patchwork, in my opinion.

have fun with your qal!