Quilting Day by Day

My very own Elephant Abstractions quilt!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that piecing quilt tops is my least favourite part of quilting. I do it when I need to, and once in a while it isn’t too bad if it doesn’t take too long LOL But I’m not like a lot of quilters who love piecing – intricately – and move from one top to the other, stashing fabrics and getting all excited about the newest patterns. I love the quilting itself.

So I often quilt for clients who have done ALL the piecing and brought their top to me to be quilted. Then I get to have fun doing what I love to do! But this also means I am exposed to many different quilts – my clients have varying tastes and styles – and one day I received a quilt made from Violet Craft’s Elephant Abstractions foundation paper pieced quilt pattern.

I experienced something unique with this quilt, and rather than go into that whole story here I will direct you to the blog post from just over two years ago featuring the finished quilt. You can find it here: Ellie the Elephant

As I said at the end of that post, I bought the pattern to keep for “some day”. Maybe I would make it, maybe I wouldn’t, but at least if I had the pattern I wouldn’t be disappointed later if I wanted it and it was no longer available. And it sat on a shelf for two years, but I saw it whenever I moved things around, it was always tucked in the back of my mind, and by the end of last year (2019) when I was making my list of goals and challenging myself to do the “some day” things on my shelf, I wrote it down and made the decision to set the goal. It seemed a lofty one for sure, but nothing ever gets done if you don’t start, right?

I broke it down into smaller pieces (“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…”) set it as my 2020 goal, and January 1st, I took the leap and ordered my fabrics. And I didn’t allow myself to stress over colors – well at least not longer than about three hours! – because looking through fabric shops in person or online isn’t my happy place. I would rather be quilting!

When the fabric arrived, I copied my templates and cut them out. I had my little steps written down in my planner to make sure I persevered, and I even gave myself permission to have an escape route if necessary: if I got half way through and hated it, I would allow myself to give it away to someone else. That option helped me get started.

Once I started, it became systematic, “one bite at a time”, one template at a time, don’t look at the big picture, just look at the section in front of you. And then the sections grew, and then they went together and suddenly in the course of a week I had built an elephant.

I’m not a start and take ages to finish person, fitting in other projects here and there and going back and forth. I like to start, work, and finish. I know how my attention span works and I know what happens if I get tired of looking at something, and I spent any hours that were not booked for other things sitting at my sewing machine with my little work station for trimming and pressing and I built my elephant. And I thought about my elephant when I wasn’t sewing it. And I dreamed about my elephant when I went to sleep.

Along the way, I checked in with my mom who loves to see what I am doing and gives me props (we all need props from mom to make us feel like we can do it!) and with the client friend who had pieced Ellie, who was also cheering for me 🙂 And I made mistakes and I learned how to fix them, and when I thought I was finally done, I wasn’t, because I discovered I was using one color of fabric in the wrong place and had been for several templates, because I got cocky after I had memorized all the other fabrics. And I figured out how to repair all that too. And I kept going until it was done. And I didn’t hate it!

Full disclosure: I could actually see doing this quilt again if there were a good reason, like my daughter who loves elephants requesting her own some day! But that doesn’t mean I love piecing. It means that if I really want something badly enough, I can put in the required effort. And I REALLY wanted this elephant.

I recorded video clips along the way; they’ve all been sped up a lot, but they prove that I did in fact do all the work LOL And the music is really fun: a cinematic background for my epic journey. I will post more once I have quilted this one, but for now you can see the highlights in the video below.

Is there something you really want to make but it just seems too daunting? How much do you love it? Do you need to let yourself think about the possibility and just let it brew for a bit?

It’s all about timing. Two years ago I thought this was unlikely to happen. But then one day, it just did! And even when I started I thought it would be spread out over weeks, but I have met my goal for 2020, so now what? That deserves some deep thought. For now I am giving my brain a little break, and feeling grateful that I tackled and finished this project that once seemed too far to reach!

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