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Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Quilt Sew-along: Preparation

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.

Jen Kingwell Gypsy Wife Quilt Sewalong with Angie Wilson of www.GnomeAngel.com, Nicole of Snips Snippets and Chelsea of Pink Door Fabrics. Learn more at www.GnomeAngel.com

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:

  1. Thursday 3 August 2017: Colour Wheel – Make 1
  2. Thursday 10 August 2017: Pershing – Make 1
  3. Thursday 17 August 2017: From the Heart – Make 1
  4. Thursday 24 August 2017: Hope from Hartford – Make 1
  5. Thursday 31 August 2017: Crazy Anne – Make 1
  6. Thursday 7 September 2017: Star Block – Make 1
  7. Thursday 14 September 2017: Indian Hatchet – Make 1
  8. Thursday 21 September 2017: Puss in the Corner – Make 2
  9. Thursday 28 September 2017: Nurses Cross – Make 1
  10. Thursday 5 October 2017: Half Square Triangle – Make 2
  11. Thursday 12 October 2017: Old Maid Puzzle – Make 2
  12. Thursday 19 October 2017: Pinwheel – Make 5
  13. Thursday 26 October 2017: Courthouse Steps – Make 5
  14. Thursday 2 November 2017: Hourglass Blocks – Make 3
  15. Thursday 9 November 2017: Square in Square – Make 35
  16. Thursday 16 November 2017: Square in Square Pinwheel – Make 1
  17. Thursday 23 November 2017: Square in Square Bordered – Make 5
  18. Thursday 30 November 2017: Square in Square Courthouse – Make 6
  19. Thursday 7 December 2017: Square in Square in a Square – Make 1
  20. Thursday 14 December 2017: Quilt Construction – Section 1 to 5
  21. 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.


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.


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.


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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  1. Hi..been wanting to do this quilt for a long time about 4 yrs now so many pieces and looks complacated guess thats why i want to do it .. i like hard structured things .. farmers wife and dear jane are next yayyyy me ..

    1. Hi Krista! I am really loving the challenge of this quilt – it’s appealing to the puzzle solver in me. There’s so much information out there about how to put it together, so don’t let the rumours of it being stupid hard put you off! 🙂

      1. HI.. No fear in running off just finding the time to sit at the sewing machine to sew the blocks up… work has my attention but i am soo happy to be starting this quilt .. Thanks for letting me join in on the fun …

  2. I am going to jump into this….hope I can do it! I’ve had the pattern a couple years and it kind of overwhelms me. I am hoping following you will help and I hope you leave all information up in case I fall behind..Sounds like I plan on falling behind…one a week is a good start. Do I just do the second block from the pattern or do you tell me which block is the second one? Thanks, Sandy

    1. Hi Sandy! How’s the quilt going? You can find the full schedule via this link: click here

      Each week I’ll be posting a round up of the things I used to make the blocks so you can find the help you need. Good Luck with the quilt!

  3. So glad you have a colouring grid. I have been looking for one as I dont want to go for too much of a scrappy look. As I’m fairly new to quilting I dont have much of a stash, yet, but I am using some oranges, yellows and reds I have been collecting to do my son a quilt and I have bought some more fabric to complement them. My son liked the strong colour themes in the Pink Door Fabric designs so I am going for just two fabrics for the stipes. Having printed off the colour grid am now off to find some pencils to start planning.

  4. I can’t find info on having a quilting buddy. Saw where it was mentioned but nothing else. Thanks for doing this!

  5. Dear Angie!
    I’m in Palmer Alaska USA, is looking forward to make this precious Gypsy Wife quilt Sewing -Along.
    My book rom Amaxon is coming on Tuesday, got all the fabrics ( using civil war reproduction fabrics).
    Thanks you so much for all of your helps and beautiful ideas!!!!!
    Bonna Downs

  6. Am I naïve or just foolish to try this as a second quilt? I can sew a straight line and read a pattern so figured I would jump in and do the best I can. Love the design and it sounds like fun to be a part of this delightful community. Maybe it will all sink in when my pattern arrives. I’m also waiting for a smart phone to arrive. Is my insanity becoming clearer? I have no Facebook or Instagram account, so that will be new also. I’ m retired and decided it was time to learn new things. Since I have no big stash to pull from, I will be using fabric that friends have given me and did go out and get some. Just to be certain- We have a week from Aug 3rd to get the first block done, not have it done by the 3rd. Right? Bad way to start needing such clarification! Ha, Ha!

    1. Hi Roxanne
      Its my second quilt, well not even that as I havent finished my first so I will be naive with you! My view is that if I dont plung in with this sew along I will never have the courage to do a complicated quilt.

      1. So glad to hear from you! We have to jump off the high dive at the lake at some point. Will be good to know someone else is a newbie. Your colors sound great. It’s confession time. I’m still hand quilting my first so we are even. Most of the pieces were offset so there were few seams to match. I’ve been watching how to videos on YouTube for tips on setting seams and checking out all the other Gypsy Wife quilts on Pinterest to get color ideas. Being accurate seems to be the most important tip I’m finding. Just received my pattern and excited to get started!

        1. Hi Helen & Roxanne! Sorry I missed these comments earlier. You have until 3 January to post all the blocks so heaps of time to learn Instagram and make the blocks you need. The beauty of this quilt is you don’t need an extensive stash of fabrics to make it you can make a beautiful version from a limited palette. So inspired by you both jumping in and just giving it a go! I hope you enjoy the event!

  7. Here’s an idea . . . A tip someone game me at the LQS was to make a key for your strips. She said to tape a sample of the fabric on a yardstick and number them across so you know which fabric is for which strip.

  8. A tip someone game me at the LQS was to make a key for your strips. She said to tape a sample of the fabric on a yardstick and number them across so you know which fabric is for which strip.

  9. Hey – anyone have any tips/tricks on cutting the strips so they really are straight? I am feeling a little nervous about getting curved lines where I don’t want them.

      1. That’s a great tip Mayo!

        I don’t really have a tip for getting them straight. I do fold and cut the longer strips. I’ll cover off the tips and tricks I used when we get to that section of the event.

  10. I’m going on hols soon and don’t even have the pattern yet! But all the support and resources and ideas you gals have gathered has me thinking I may have to join in on the sidelines…. I’m going to be a month late to start though!

    1. Hi Lizzie! There is no “late to start” with this event as we’re giving you the full 4 months (approx.) to get things made and posted to IG to be in the running for prizes. Enjoy your holidays and we’ll sew with you when you get back! 😉 🙂

  11. I can hardly wait to begin sewing this quilt! I know that I would’ve been too intimidated to try it alone! Now I am so happy to join in with your Sew Along group!! I have my fabric pulled, all from my stash (except for 2 half yds of Tula Pink Tabby Road), (That was an immense exercise in constraint!! The kits at Pink Door Fabrics are gorgeous!!! ) I now am waiting for my pattern to arrive in the mail at any minute !! Thanks to you, Angie, and all if the folks that did the prep work ! I look forward to seeing all of the gypsy wife quilts that will be made!!

  12. I am really looking forward to this, I have a mix of Kaffe Fasset, and Tula pink bulked out with some Batik…TBH what ever I can raid from my stash, I love the colouring sheets and will have a play with that this weekend – still undecided about all out bright, or bright with black and white stripes I love both looks. I am just worried about keeping up as I work away a lot and often only get a couple of sewing days a month.

  13. Thank you for putting this together for us! I’ve already took a good look at the pattern and what frustated me the most was that nowhere is stated which bloccks belongs where. This will help me a lot:-) (I hope I’ve fallen behind with my LTG sampler).

  14. Want to join but didn’t buy the pattern in time at the one place I saw it. Desperately looking for a Canadian source. Any help gladly accepted. Thanks

  15. I think the coloring page is definitely going to be helpful. Do you suggest coloring it or glueing on snippets of fabrics as we complete blocks or, coloringnin advance?

    1. It’s really up to you and what works best for your creative process. I just used coloured pens to give me a rough idea of what colours I want where and now I’m just pulling fabrics to try and match the feel of those colours. it’s not an exact science for me (in fact it’s something I rarely do) because I like to let the fabrics dictate a lot of the placement. But I know there’s others who go to town and use fabric swatches and even EQ7 to generate images with the fabrics in them. Just do what works for you – there’s no right or wrong! 🙂

  16. This will be my second Gypsy Wife quilt. I enjoyed doing the first one and all the information on the internet really helped. My first quilt was a full of color. I hope to make this one a little more subdued.

  17. Thank you for all the tips and goodies. I was really wanting a color page and now here it is! You really are an angel! And the paper piecing patterns will be great too.

  18. I’ve had a section of Gypsy done for a long time, then got really terrorized by it! It’s been hanging on my design wall all this time and I’d love to get back at it but it boggles my mind. Maybe following along with you will be the way to actually make this quilt….thanks!

  19. THANK YOU for this planning info! I printed out a coloring page and can’t wait to start playing with fabrics and color placement!

  20. Thank you! I have been so naïve about the complexity of this quilt. Received my pattern on Monday and casually looked through it. I have explored all the links you gave, saved everything I could and have decided it’s time to get my rear in gear. Today, the fabric pull begins. Had been thinking about using my hoarded Luminous by AMH….but then thought about my hoarded everything Carolyn Friedlander….then maybe the blue, grey and white quilt using my hoarded C+S. I’m sure you have notice the continuing theme….”hoarded”. Yep, this will be fun!

  21. I am excited to be doing this again with you and Nicole and with some friends also. I do have a question. Are we not going to put the little 1″ strips in the quilt at all? From the drawing it appears that these strips marked with an * were two 1″ strips in the pattern and replaced with one 11/2″ strip (which I like better if it works for the quilt!) or am I mistaken ?

    1. Sorry for the confusion Velda – that’s just how Pink Door Fabrics kitted out their bundles to help people with a little more fabric. I’ll be following the pattern for the strips, but we’ll accept either for those that want to enter the quilts for any prizes. Let me know if you’re still confused.

  22. I’m so looking forward to this! I’ve had Gypsy Wife on my ‘to do’ list for ages. Have ordered my pattern and will be using my Kaffe Fasset stash

  23. A colouring page! Oh boy…. talk about timing. I was just gonna sit down and attempt to draw one up. Thank you Angie and Chelsea 🙂

  24. So nervous after reading this post, but I got the pattern and should arrive Monday! Thank you for doing this! I have admired this quilt for awhile now! This is exactly what I needed to get going!

    1. Don’t be nervous – it’s going to be a blast. There will be so many of use working together that we’ll be able to help if you run into trouble. I’ve done all the pre-planning and research so I can try to help trouble shoot and avoid any possible pitfalls for people. It’s going to be heaps of fun, I promise! 😉

  25. Thanks for all the great information, I did my Long Time Gone SAL quilt in all Art Gallery fabrics bought at Darn Cheap fabrics here in Heidelberg Vic – half metre cost me between $3.75 and $4.50, I have sooooooo much left that I plan to use them for Gypsy Wife. I am really looking forward to doing this and love the idea of a plastic tub to keep them in.

    Thanks again Sue

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