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Life Lessons from a Mystery Quilt

The “Good Fortune” Mystery is finished!  Well, kind of…  Except for that one little square that I need to rip out…  now that it is sewn into the quilt.   That I didn’t even see until I took this picture.   And now that I have seen it, I can’t unsee it.   (Big sigh.)  And of course layering and quilting and binding.

I have learned many life lessons while finishing the quilt top this last couple of weeks.  I have had more time to reflect on the process, and here is the result:

  • Trust the Designer. As I worked on this, knowing only what I was to do on that particular week, I could not see the big picture.  I could not see how all these little pieces were going to fit in the big scheme of things, or even if they were going to fit together:  little squares, bigger squares, rectangles, smaller rectangles.  How on earth is this all going to come together to make one beautiful quilt?   But I knew the reputation of Bonnie Hunter.  I had looked at photos of her quilts over the years, and knew they were beautiful, so I kept working at those odd pieces, trusting that they would come together and be beautiful.  I happen to believe that we have a Designer as well.  There is a plan for our lives.  Sometimes we don’t understand why today, or this week, or even this year has to shape up like it does.  Sometimes we don’t really like the color we have been handed.  But we know the reputation of our Designer.  We know that He makes all things beautiful and that in the end it all fits together.  So trust in the Designer, and trust that somehow, someway they will all come together and be beautiful.   Jeremiah 29:11  
  • Be Diligent. One of the things that makes this quilt so special is the small pieces: the little squares that make chains throughout the quilt, the small rectangles that make up the sawtooth borders, the little checkerboards in the centers of the red and orange squares.  Not a big piece in sight!  I have to admit, if I had seen this pattern in a magazine, I probably would have laid it aside, saying, “Too much work.  Too many pieces.  I don’t have time for all that piecing.”  And I would have never done it.  But I didn’t see the big picture.  I was fed bite size pieces, just one little step sometimes repeated hundreds of times.  But doing the same thing over and over isn’t a big deal.  And then the process is repeated the next week with a different same thing repeated.  And then suddenly  the reveal!  I couldn’t believe that this pile of different blocks was all I needed for a beautiful quilt!  Life is like that as well.  We do the same thing over and over, day in and day out.   And then we are asked to learn a new thing, or a new way of doing the old thing and we do that over and over.  We don’t even think about why or what those things are going to lead to, we are just doing what we need to do.  And then the reveal!  Suddenly, after years, we realize that that skill learned while raising young children, and that lesson learned at work, and that talent that we unveiled, and the thing our boss asked us to do that we didn’t think we would ever be able to do (but did!), have all equipped us for a new stage of our life.  All those lessons and skills have turned us into the person that we now are.  It would have never happened if we had not been diligent in the small things each step of the way.  Isaiah 28:10 
  • Keep things straight. Can you just imagine what this quilt would look like if the blocks were just sewn together randomly…  An orange next to an orange, a sawtooth border running across the middle, the star blocks sewn together to not even slightly resemble a star?   It would be a mess!  But isn’t that how we try to live at times?   We just do what we feel, what we want or don’t want to do.  No discipline.  No thought of those around us.  We are just thinking of ourselves, doing what WE want.  And we end up with a mess, and then try to blame others.  We need to know there is a  plan, and then work the plan.  Keeping things straight, whether we feel like it or not.  (And sometimes rip out that little square and turn it a quarter turn, even though I don’t want to!)  That is the road to a life that I can sit back and look at from time to time, and smile at!  Proverbs 4:26  
  • It’s all about the value. I am not talking about one person being more valuable than another, or about money.  I am talking about the interest that is created in the quilt by the areas of neutral colors, next to the brightness of the oranges and reds, in contrast to the solidness of the blues and greens.  Our lives are like that too.  We need those neutral, thoughtful, sometimes full of introspection, or just calm times in our lives.  The problem is, if we sit in that place too long, we are boring or maybe even depressing.   We need the brightness of life, the times of joy, and laughter, and happiness to contrast with the neutral times.  And then there are the blues and greens.  The hard times.  The stoic times.  The solid, one step in front of the other times.  The just breathe times.  We need those to develop character and perseverance.  We need those to appreciate the calm times.  We need those to appreciate the bright and happy times.  And just when the blues and greens get too heavy, a bit of orange, a bit of red comes along to bring us cheer.  And it all works together to make our lives good, to make us more like our Designer.  Romans 8:28

I am going to miss working on “Good Fortune”, and the thinking about what to write about this quilt.  But alas, there are more projects on the horizon!   Come back again sometime and see what’s next!

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The Design Progresses… Slowly

My new design is still that… a design.  But progress IS being made!  I did make the prototype cut… a fancy way of saying that I have cut it out of poster board!  My designs fit together like a puzzle, and I am very picky about them fitting together perfectly.  When I first started making these for myself, I was cutting them out of the fabric with the fusible on the back, and then finding something I wasn’t happy with, and starting over.  I was raised by the “Waste not, Want not” rule and that was not acceptable to me, not to mention that it gets expensive!  Do you know that fusible is more expensive per square inch than good batik quilt fabric?  And I was throwing both away!?!?!   So I started trying to figure out a better way.  One day it clicked that poster board is cheap, relative to fabric with fusible, and works well to assemble a puzzle.  I have a pretty good grasp on how thin an area can be cut from fabric and still not fall apart when handled, so I can tell that the poster board as well.

So now the process is to cut the design out of poster board and work the puzzle.  I also quickly color the pieces with marker, just so it doesn’t get too confusing looking at a pile of white puzzle pieces.  The colors aren’t always right, but they do the job!  So, the puzzle is made, the fabric ordered, AND I get a backorder notice.  Grrr… but only until I could wrap my mind around it.

Okay, move forward and start the assembly instructions.  These take a LONG time to write, and I usually do them after making the initial kit to photograph, but I am too excited about this kit and don’t want to have to wait!   So now the instructions are written, and hopefully ready to go.  And I think this is going to change the order of my process!  While writing the instructions, I changed the order of a few pieces, as I “built” the kit on the computer.  This saved some back and forth in the assembly and simplified a few things.  I even eliminated a couple of pieces (this kit has a LOT of pieces!) that just did not seem necessary in light of my fabric choices.  I was able to change the cut files to match, eliminating even more steps.   So much better!   So once again, what started as frustration, turned into learning a better more efficient process.

Bring on the fabric, please!!!

Are you frustrated with a project?   Take a deep breath and move forward with what you can!