The Jen Kingwell Gypsy Wife Sew-along kicks off next week (August 3) and I thought it would be a good time to share with you some tips, tricks and advice on how to prepare for this event. I’m not going to lie the schedule for this is a bit full on (don’t let the one block a week start fool you!) and so you’re going to need a plan when you go into this one. This is the first quilt that I’ve ever invested this much preparation time into. If you’ve done any sort of searching on the internet about this pattern you’ll see lots of comments about how the pattern can be a little soul destroying. I had read all the comments and talked with Nicole about her experience putting the quilt together so I knew I was going to need to go into this one with the understanding that it would take me a little bit of work to make the whole process as easy as possible. I must confess the project manager in me really enjoyed it – plus it was a great way to procrastinate on things I didn’t want to be doing.
Because I want you to have the best possible experience with this quilt as well I’ve put together the information I used to help get started on this quilt adventure. Hopefully it will help you get over any nerves that you might be having about tackling this project. I’m also hoping that with a little bit of planning we’ll all get to the end with finished quilt tops.
Fabric Pull & Colouring Chart
Originally I was going to do an all Lizzy House version of this quilt because I love my Lizzy and The City quilt so much that I wanted to have another quilt that gave me the same happiness when I looked at it. But then I was struck with another idea for what I’d like and so I’ve gone with using my stash instead. (You can guarantee that there will still be a tonne of Lizzy in this quilt!) Because I’m using stash I felt like I needed to sit down and work out a colour plan so that my fabric pull was somewhat structured. Luckily for me (and now you) Chelsea and the team at Pink Door Fabrics have put together a colouring in page for the Gypsy Wife Quilt to help you (and me!) plan your fabric placement. You can get the colouring sheet by clicking here. (Thanks Chelsea!)
Foundation Paper Pieced Block Construction
You’ll notice once you’ve flicked through the pattern that some of the blocks would be a wee bit easier if you could foundation paper piece them. Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to have this thought. With the written permission of Jen, I asked Kristy (of Quiet Play) if she could draw up a couple of the patterns for us as Foundation Paper Piece patterns to help us all out and she was so kind as to do it. Yay!
You can find the FPP pattern for Crazy Anne, Nurse’s Cross and Old Maid by clicking this link.
Please note: These patterns have been provided with Jen’s permission. They are not to be on sold or used without the Gypsy Wife pattern. All care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the patterns, however we strongly recommend that you confirm the pattern measurements against your copy of the Gypsy Wife pattern once you have printed that pattern. Patterns assume a basic working knowledge of foundation paper piecing.
In addition to these patterns, I also tracked down a copy of a FPP pattern made by Julie Hirt at 627handworks for the Pershing Block (which is due in the week 10 – 16 August, in your timezone). You can find the FPP pattern for this block by clicking here.
Block Layout & Assembly
I’m going in with a colour plan for my quilt so knowing where the final filler blocks were going to land was crucial in helping me get this to look the way I want. Unfortunately there’s no where in the pattern that outlines exactly where the filler blocks will be used to assist with planning. However, because this quilt pattern has been around for ages I was able to Google and find some help with putting them together. I found this post by Ali (of Needle Down) that showed her “map” for assembly. I then used a blank copy of the colouring sheet by Pink Door Fabrics to map out the filler blocks so I could compare it with my colour plan.
Because I love you all so much I’ve popped the information from Ali’s post on top of the colour page so you can see the filler block placement, hopefully this will help you as much as Ali’s post helped me.
Strips Strips and More Strips
One of the blogs I really relied on while putting together my attack plan was Splish Splash Stash. There’s a really hand post on the strips section (including an organised cutting chart) you can find by clicking here.
Managing the Timetable
We’re going to be covering one block type a week, which is just peachy when there’s only one block a week to make but by the middle of October we’re going to be making more than one and that’s when things tend to get a little cuckoo. Here’s the timetable:
- Thursday 3 August 2017: Colour Wheel – Make 1
- Thursday 10 August 2017: Pershing – Make 1
- Thursday 17 August 2017: From the Heart – Make 1
- Thursday 24 August 2017: Hope from Hartford – Make 1
- Thursday 31 August 2017: Crazy Anne – Make 1
- Thursday 7 September 2017: Star Block – Make 1
- Thursday 14 September 2017: Indian Hatchet – Make 1
- Thursday 21 September 2017: Puss in the Corner – Make 2
- Thursday 28 September 2017: Nurses Cross – Make 1
- Thursday 5 October 2017: Half Square Triangle – Make 2
- Thursday 12 October 2017: Old Maid Puzzle – Make 2
- Thursday 19 October 2017: Pinwheel – Make 5
- Thursday 26 October 2017: Courthouse Steps – Make 5
- Thursday 2 November 2017: Hourglass Blocks – Make 3
- Thursday 9 November 2017: Square in Square – Make 35
- Thursday 16 November 2017: Square in Square Pinwheel – Make 1
- Thursday 23 November 2017: Square in Square Bordered – Make 5
- Thursday 30 November 2017: Square in Square Courthouse – Make 6
- Thursday 7 December 2017: Square in Square in a Square – Make 1
- Thursday 14 December 2017: Quilt Construction – Section 1 to 5
- Thursday 21 December 2017: Quilt Construction – Section 6 to 10
According to my calculations (and bare in mind that I’m no mathematician!) there’s 58 filler blocks needed for various sections of the quilt. There’s 19 weeks before we get to assembly, so if you make 7 filler blocks a week as we work through the bigger blocks by the time we get to quilt construction you should be ready to go.
You may also want to set aside some time each week for cutting and preparing the strips for the quilt construction phase. I’m not going to sugar coat it – there’s a bucket load of strips to assemble so knocking these over while you’re feeling “in the mood” will help at the end when you’re generally no longer feeling the love.
As you can see there’s no “catch up” period in the schedule. There’s a week between the final construction and the submission of photos for the prize pool (submission of quilt top will occur between 4 – 8 January 2018 in your timezone) to let you enjoy the festive season, however you may need to use this time to get things caught up.
STORAGE IS KEY
I’m moving in-between projects so I’ve pulled all the fabrics for this quilt and put them in their own plastic tub. I store the pattern, colouring-in chart and scraps from cutting in this tub. I pop the top off while I’m working and just move between the tub and my cutting table. When I’m working on something else I pop the tub lid back on and stack it out of the way. I love these clear plastic under the bed storage tubs because they’re the right depth for storing folded fat quarters (like in a fabric shop) so I can flick through them and they hold a lot. They also stack neatly and out of the way in my sewing space.
FIND A BUDDY
This has been the key to my success with completing #100Days100Blocks and #100Days100Blocks2017 – find a sewing buddy. I’m not talking about getting someone to come to your house and hold you accountable, I’m all about the internet buddy. Bec (of @Skyberries) and I have a race every year to see which one of us can complete our 100 blocks first. It’s a great motivator for me because I tend to lose steam in the middle and Bec is always there cheering me on and telling me she’s beating me. This method appeals to the competitor in me and it helps keep the both of us moving forward. (I think the key is to keep the race tight so that either party doesn’t get discouraged.)
If “racing” isn’t your jam, then look for a buddy that will help keep you motivated and accountable. This is why Instagram is so awesome. You can direct message (DM) each other, or even post to your timeline during the time period for posting the blocks and tag your buddy and ask them to tag you in theirs so you both see the blocks posted. I always have my phone with me so it’s a great way for me to stay in contact with Bec as I work. There’s rarely a day that goes by where one of us isn’t texting the other asking what they’re working on.
We’re yet to announce the sponsors and prizes for this event, we’ll do that when we kick off on 3 August, but if you’re worried about missing some important piece of news then the best way to keep up-to-date is to join my newsletter mailing list by clicking here. I’ll send out any pertinent information out via this list (as well as Instagram). Don’t forget you can also find the Frequently Asked Questions by clicking here.
WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?
I’d love to hear how you’re planning to keep on track and get this quilt finished. Who knows, you might have a strategy that I haven’t thought of but desperately need in my life! Leave a comment below or drop me an email.
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