Saturday, January 30, 2016

welcome to the gypsy wife quilt along 2016 & link party

we've pulled lots of fabrics, we've got our pattern book and pencil ready, and some of us are kinda nervous. i hope everyone is excited! this is an epic quilt make. i'm doing a lot of explaining up front, so bear with me and the wordiness of this post. first, let's see who's with us.

quilt along sign up

since this is the kick-off of the quilt along, i'm going to introduce some of my methodologies to you and give more information about how the quilt along will function. don't worry, international copyright police - i'm not going to be publishing the pattern in entirety on this blog! but i will be showing bits and pieces to make a point and to explain a few missing links for those of us who need more help.

the pattern booklet is composed of several pages of block assembly instructions (pg 3-24), section assembly diagrams (pg 26-31), and the layout of sections for construction of the top (pg 32). because the section assembly diagrams are mostly graphics and only a few measurements, the maker must  identify the blocks by sight and do some math to figure out which blocks are in each section. but don't despair, that's been done for you!

section 1 - click to enlarge

blocks in each section

i've identified each block and it's instruction page. this information for each section will be published at the first of the month, each month. also, i've noted the number of blocks per section and loosely ranked them by complexity. for example, section one has 5 blocks: two large, two medium, one small. the size isn't measured by inches but rather by how complex it is/the number of steps involved and how much time it might take. you'll see it's all relative and rather subjective, but i've done the best i can! this is to give you an idea how much work might be involved for the month.

although the book breaks up the quilt into sections, they are not equally divided. some months are bigger than others. section six, for instance, could actually be a two month project relative to the other months. it involves a lot of square in a square blocks. you might want to make some of these ahead of time. i'll give you a heads up when bigger months are coming so you can plan accordingly.


in addition, i've numbered all the strips, from left to right (which is opposite to order of assembly, i now realize - but too late!), identified where it is in each section it runs through, and how long it is in total. this was important to me to figure out because i wanted to make sure i had enough fabric to carry a long strip into it's other sections. also, the assembly diagrams aren't always lined up precisely and it can be confusing where a strip picks up again. this information will also be shared each month. for planning purposes, i'll note now that the strips vary in length from 65.5" to 12". there are at least 11 strips that are longer than 42", which is the standard wof length. these strips will need two wof cuts to complete. each strip is divided into as many as 5 sub sections. all this will be shared monthly by section.

detail, section 7 - click to enlarge
section seven is the bottom right hand piece. if you look here you can see how i numbered the sections all the way across the bottom (and gave letter designations to the 1" strips, represented by the dark strips in the diagram). next, i worked my way up through the sections and found how long each strip was at each of it's sections, and figured the total. the strips on the outer edges of the quilt have the longest total pieces.

if you want to play along so you know exactly which strips i'm referring to, you can mark your pattern like i did by just placing the number in the very bottom of the strips in the lower sections (ten, six, seven). start in section 10 with the farthest left strip and move right. grey strips get letters instead of numbers. each month i'll show where else the strips fall. 


the schedule megan and i have agreed on is this:

february - section one: 5 blocks (1 sm, 2 md, 3 lg); 19 strips (2 - 1")
march - section two:  6 blocks (2 sm, 1 md, 3 lg); 6 strips (2 - 1")
april - sections three and four: 6 blocks (1 sm, 1 md, 4 lg); 10 strips
may - section five: 6 blocks (3 sm, 3 lg); 9 strips (2 - 1")
june - section six: 21 blocks (13 sm, 5 md, 3 lg); 25 strips (2 - 1")  this is a big one! you might want to get a jumpstart or leave some for july
july - section seven: 7 blocks (4 sm, 2 md, 1 lg); 14 strips (2 - 1")
august - section eight: 4 blocks (1 sm, 3 lg); 11 strips (1 - 1")
september - section nine: 5 blocks (2sm, 1 md, 2 lg); 11 strips (4 - 1")
october - section ten: 11 blocks (6 sm, 2md, 3 lg); 22 strips (5 - 1")
november - quilt and bind

monthly posts

on the first of each month, i will post the section specifications that include blocks, strips, and any special instructions/tips. megan will also be posting her section and thoughts.

for those who want to work ahead, i will also post brief info for the next section or optional work ahead ideas.

there will be a link party at the end of each month where participants can link up blog or instagram posts about their sections.

other things to note

the instructions give the finished measurements for each block. this means what it will measure once it's been sewn into the quilt. if you want to know the unfinished measurement, which is what i use most often in these posts because i want to know how big the block is supposed to be before i attach it to anything, add .5" (1/2 inch) for the seam allowance that hasn't been taken in since the block isn't sewn into place yet. finished size + 1/2" = unfinished size

what the pattern calls "square in a square blocks" are also commonly called "economy blocks." i've previously written about making them here. links to tutorials for sq in sq/econ blocks are included in that post. there's a tutorial for a different method than our pattern uses, here.

some thoughts on pinwheel blocks are here.

some of the 1" wide strips are paired together (B&C, F&G, H&I). yes, when sewn these do equal the same as the 1.5" wide strips. so technically you could just use a 1.5" strip in place of these. however, it gives added interest and variety to the quilt to vary the width occasionally as the pattern does.

there is a partial seam between strips 50 and 51. you could avoid this by converting the 6.5" strip into one 4.5" strip and one 2.5" strip. i realize these two numbers don't equal 6.5", but you have to factor in the additional seam allowance by adding 1/4" for each side of the cut, which is 1/2" total. (and i hope i've done that correctly!) where ever this occurs in the pattern, i will try to make note for you and give alternate measurements.

i've previously shared thoughts on optional cutting tools that are helpful for this project here.

section six (june) has several square in square blocks that will fall below sections 1 - 4 in the same strips. because june is a large month, it might be helpful to make a few of those sq-in-sq blocks ahead of time as you work on the other sections. on the months we are working with sections above section six, i'll let you know which strips will have section six sq in sq blocks below them so you can get a head start.

if you have any questions, please ask in the comments. if you are a no-reply blogger, please email me directly instead.

#GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016 on instagram

Friday, January 29, 2016

gypsy wife quilt - elisabeth woo's value study version

here's another unique look at the gypsy wife pattern. elisabeth woo, of robert kauffman fabrics, has created an energetic and fun take on the gypsy wife by playing down the strips in low-volumes and highlighting the blocks in a bright and bold color palette, with some really cute fussy cutting, to boot.

what attracted you to the gypsy wife quilt or why did you make one?
When I saw Catherine Mosely’s (@cathmosely) version of the quilt hanging at QuiltCon in 2015 with black and white strips and super saturated colors it was the first time I could visualize the quilt in my head! I fell in love with the idea of a background that would fade and leave the focus on all the blocks!

how long did it take you to complete?
I like to work on several projects at the same time, so I move a little slower. It took me 18 weeks of on/off focus from when I pieced the first block to when I finished the top.

how did you go about making fabric selections?
I selected my limited color palette (I like blue and oranges together), then just stuck to it and started sewing.

Crazy Ann block, lower left, and some others
what was your favorite block to make or favorite part of the project?
I think Crazy Anne was my favorite block, but I also really enjoyed making all the filler blocks. J

please explain your quilting choices
I was really stumped with what to do with this quilt once it was finished. I loved all the pieces but was having a hard time feeling connected to it, so I asked one of my good friends, Valori Wells (@valoriwells) if she would quilt it for me. I love her artistic quilting style and I feel like I’m looking at a page in her sketchbook. Seeing her doodles on it really made me love it.

puss in the corner block - with pugs!

what would you change or do differently if you could?
It was really challenging piecing stripes in the background (using Kona Snow + Kona White), but they end up looking very similar and you can hardly see the subtle stripe. I think next time I would try using two colors with a bit more difference so you can see the background striping a little easier (like Kona White and Oyster).

what advice or tips would you offer for others making this quilt?

Keep track of all those filler blocks!! J I actually accidentally made more than I needed to because I wasn’t counting that carefully. 

 thank you, elisabeth, for sharing your photos and ideas with us! to see more of elisabeth's work (like her killer farmer's wife sampler quilt) and a bit about life around robert kauffman fabrics, visit elisabeth on instagram @elisabew.

i have one or two more examples of the gypsy wife quilt that might still make a showing. in the meantime, look for the big kick off post for our gypsy wife quilt along coming on saturday, january 30th, and the first post about section one on monday, february 1st.

who's ready to get gypsy-ing?!

 as soon as my sewing room is finished, i'm in.
hurry up, construction fellas!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

gypsy wife quilt - cath mosely's all solids version

our next installment in the completed gypsy wife quilt series features a truly unique presentation of this pattern, which i think goes to show just how versatile it can be. today i'm fortunate enough to have cath mosely on board to share her rather famous all-solids gypsy wife, which was featured at quiltcon 2015 in austin, tx. her combination of bright colors for the blocks and alternating black-and-white strips is simply stunning. cath's surprising choices for a normally scrappy quilt demonstates that while it is a fabulous quilt when all scrappy, it can also take some structure nicely.

what attracted you to the gypsy wife quilt or why did you make one?

I loved this pattern from the first time I saw it. It's made of traditional blocks but in a layout I'd never seen before and I just loved its unique look. 

endless thread burying

how long did it take you to complete?

 I made the Gypsy Wife quilt over about 6 weeks. Making it in 6 weeks was quite a push, definitely faster than usual. I decided I wanted to enter it in Quiltcon with only about 6 weeks until entries closed so I had a deadline! It was accepted which was really cool because there wasn't  many quilts accepted that weren't original designs.

how did you go about making fabric selections?

I wanted my version to be unique so I thought I would try the complete opposite to Jen's fabric choices - solids - and right from the beginning I thought the strips in the background were begging to be made into stripes! I still wanted a wide variety of fabrics so I bought a layer cake of rainbow solids which yielded the majority of pieced blocks (I cut VERY economically!) and then made up the rest with a few solids I had in my stash. The more fabrics the better in this quilt! I looked at a few options for those background stripes but in the end the bold black and white was the winner!

what was your favorite block to make or favorite part of the project?

My favourite part of the project was the first time I sewed together some blocks and stripes. I stood back and thought with relief "yes, the combination works!!"  :)

please explain your quilting choices

I wanted very simple quilting as the quilt's pieced design speaks for itself. I quilted vertical lines 1" apart right across the quilt, following the background strips, then quilted 1" lines horizontally in the blocks only.

what would you change or do differently if you could?

There's two things I would do differently, but these are small things and might not bother anyone else!:
- When piecing the larger blocks I should've just checked what they would end up next to in the final quilt layout. I had to remake or switch the placement of a couple of blocks because I'd used the same fabric right next to each other without realising.
- In the pattern there's two 1/2" strips right next each other on the right half of the quilt. I just put in one 1" strip instead. I wish I had stuck with the pattern's two 1/2" strips now though because then my stripes would've finished with the same colour on both sides giving a more balanced look. If I hadn't created stripes this wouldn't have mattered at all of course!

what advice or tips would you offer for others making this quilt?

If the balance is important to you, see that first one in the last question! If you have the space, it's great to be able to put your blocks onto a design wall/floor and add each block to it's approximate place as you make them.  

cath also kindly sent me a video link so we can see her talk about her quilt at quiltcon last year. view here.

by day, cath works for a company that makes orthopaedic implants. "not much creativity in my day job!" she says. at other times, she quilts. you can view more of cath's creative work on her instagram account @cathmosely.

growing pile

 it's not all gypsy wife mania around here. there is some construction mania going on, too! we are finally enclosing the dining room-turned-sewing room with a wall and some barn doors. i sewed my little heart out over the weekend in preparation for several days off.

 i was trying to get a few projects off the floor and wall before the construction began. of course, everything took a whole lot longer than i anticipated. i did manage to get all my triangles sewn together, and was going to take a photo of the flimsy but it's too tall to hold. apparently daughter #3 took some action shots of me trying to get it up above my head while the dog came over to inspect. (actually, doggie was waiting for me to lay it on the ground. she thinks anything spread on the ground is an open invitation for her to lay on it.) with the dog photo bombing and daughter's finger on the top, it was too good not to share. #reallife

 i figure everyone is tired of seeing it "in progress" anyway so i'd better save the full frontal photo until it's a finish for real. for now, it's laid out on the piano room floor.

goodness, this was some work! i thought it was simply a matter of getting the rows all sewn together. then i realized some of the rows were a few inches too short. this required unpicking and adding on to rows that were already in place. there were several partial seams required (good practice for that "hope of hartford" block i've been avoiding for gw) and maybe even one legitimate Y seam, when i discovered one of the triangles had been attached in it's row with poor tension. deciding to widen, and consequently lengthen, this quilt complicated what was a very straight forward bit of sewing. i'm ready to put this one away for a while. when i finished it i had two thoughts: "that's a lot of triangles!" and "yay! it's done."

and this guy is on top of it, still in two pieces. i was this close to getting the final middle section sewn in. but i didn't. looks like i have a quilt pile gathering on the piano room floor again! (holy cow - this post from almost exactly two years ago is like de ja vu! quilt pile on the floor and gypsy wife on the design wall. funny.) if i were to pull out the penny patch 2.0, there would be three (nearly) completed tops ready and waiting for sandwiching and quilting. that's pretty exciting. and i think having three to quilt in a row will be good for my quilting skills, what with all that practice. so whichever one i want to look the best should probably be last in the queue.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Monday, January 25, 2016

gypsy wife quilt - liz gellert's tula pink version

i have asked a few gypsy wife veterans to share their completed quilts and some thoughts about making it with us. next up is my dear quilty friend, liz gellert, who used to blog at shush, i'm quilting, but is now mostly found on instagram @lizfromshush. i am quite pleased to share liz's quilt because i take full credit for it's making since i gifted her the pattern without her having expressed any interest in it previously (talk about pressure!) and later suggested that since she was collecting so much tula pink fabric, she should consider making her gypsy wife from that. it appears liz may have had the same idea at the time. with all that tula laying around, it was probably an obvious choice for liz. either way, i still take credit. sure, she did all the piece work and stuff, but i planted the seed.

liz's son finding all the frogs

without further ado, here is liz:

what attracted you to the gypsy wife quilt or why did you make one? Well "someone" (aka you 😆) sent me the pattern as a gift for my 40th. It was right in the middle of the first flush of gypsy wife fever and I loved the look of it. It was a great gift!

how long did it take you to complete? 
It felt like an eternity at the time! More then a few months but less than a year. I worked on it in fits and starts, as I am inclined to do. But after I finished the top, it sat around for another year before quilting. I had planned to make it bigger but eventually decided smaller and finished was a better option!

how did you go about making fabric selections? 
Because I love Tula Pink and wanted to use some of the fabric I had been collecting, I decided to make the quilt in one range of her fabrics. I dragged out my Prince Charming and my Birds and the Bees collections and then let my husband choose between the two. Prince Charming it was. I also thought that would make it look quite different from the other GW quilts I was seeing at the time.

what was your favorite block to make or favorite part of the project? 
Definitely finishing!  I absolutely love the quilt, but I found the similar blocks a bit tedious to make.  However it was an excellent skill builder for me in terms of focusing on accurate block sizes.

the fab backing

what would you change or do differently if you could? 
I wouldn't change the quilt I made, but if I did another, I would love to do one in soft pretty pastel shades.  I also love the look of the GWs I have seen with strongly coloured blocks and light backgrounds. Very cool!

what advice or tips would you offer for others making this quilt? 
Just keep going. You will be so very pleased when it's finished. Also spend some time looking through the errata and lists of blocks required per section that other people have put together. It will save a lot of head scratching and agonising trying to figure it out yourself!

Because I used a single fabric range, I made most of the larger blocks in a single colour way (ie blue, green, pink etc) so that each block would have some definition in the completed quilt - rather than mixing the colours up within the blocks. I did then need to try and balance the colours of the blocks across the quilt. I think overall it was worthwhile. This won't be so relevant for scrappier GW quilts, as they naturally will have an interesting colour mix.

Have fun!

Friday, January 22, 2016

qypsy wife quilt - sarah schraw's modern farmhouse vintage version

the gypsy wife quilt along 2016 is getting into full gear. you can see the fabric pulls being made by various participants by searching the hashtag #GWqal2016FabricPull on instagram. i think next week we will have a link party here for blog friends to share theirs, too.

do you know what fabrics you'd like to use yet? in order to give fence-sitters some ideas and inspiration, and to get us all excited about our eventual finishes, i'm going to run a fun series of posts over the next few weeks until we officially begin in february. this series will feature some completed gyspy wife quilts in various styles, as well as some Q&A with the makers about their quilts and the process. i think you'll be pleased with the participants i've convinced to share with us. i know i am!

to kick off my veteran gypsy wife quilter series, today i'm introducing sarah schraw of sarah quilts. (instagram @sarahschraw) i've been a big fan of sarah's work for a while now. her combinations just sing to me; her fabric selections are impeccable. i adore her gypsy wife quilt, which i think of as having a vintage-farmhouse-meets-modern-fabrics look.

here are sarah's thoughts on her gypsy wife journey:

I really enjoy the variety and fun of samplers, and I love the way Jen Kingwell designed this particular sampler. Those vertical stripes are such a great way to bring a sampler style design together. 

I made my first block 101 weeks ago according to IG. I'm still working on the hand quilting so I guess I can't say I'm done yet. I'm about 1/3 done but now I'm hand quilting My Small World as well so I'm a little distracted.

I believe my initial concept was flowers, dots, and stripes. And as many colors as possible. I had just finished my neon sampler, and that was much funkier (lots of Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler and of course NEON), so I was in the mood for something softer and prettier (Bonnie & Camille, DS, etc). I do that a lot - finish a project that contains certain designers and then start something with a completely different part of my stash.

My favorite part of the process was the larger, more complicated blocks. I love the variety and sense of accomplishment you get from just one block. With some of those blocks, making them once was definitely enough!

One thing I would consider doing differently would be to take the quilt section by section rather than just going in order of the pattern booklet. It was really hard to get color distribution right because I didn't pay a lot of attention to which blocks were near each other. Plus it was really overwhelming and arduous to face all those skinny strips at once.

I'm hand quilting because I enjoy it and frankly I am never truly pleased with the result of my machine quilting. You have so much more control when hand quilting. And of course I love the way it looks.

I thread basted the quilt first - following the Sarah Fielke hand quilting tutorial on YouTube (here). I tried a tacking gun on My Small World as recommended by Jen Kingwell's hand quilting tutorial on Fat Quarter Shop's YouTube channel but I felt like that was actually harder.

Good luck! Please let me know if you have any other questions along the way. 

if you are a new quilter, sarah's blog has a whole series on making your first quilt. or check our her wonderful barn door quilt along. (i still have my fabrics set aside for that one! it's on my list.)

make your own gypsy wife quilt with us this year! join the gypsy wife quilt along 2016.

we're on instagram at #GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016

ps - sarah never posted this finish on her somewhat waining blog (she had a baby!), so i'm linking it up to friday finishes at crazy mom quilts for her!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

gypsy wife qal - update on schedule changes

after some discussion, megan and i have determined that the interest is high and we'd better harness the excitement energy. also, it's easier to break the quilt up over 9 months of piecing rather than 8. therefore, we will be offering an optional start for the quilt along in february, with section 1 up first.

originally, we were going to have to lump sections 1 & 2, two medium sized sections, together in february to get the top pieced by november. we figure those ready to go should just get going and do one section next month, and another the following.

if you aren't ready to start with us then, it's okay! don't panic. you can still join in and catch up. you'll just have a bit more work to do over the first two months like we were originally going to do. it's not a problem.

so get your patterns out, pull those fabrics, and start pressing your lovelies in preparation for some cutting. if you can't wait to cut, the strips are a great place to start. please see my last post about fabric selection for information on the strips.

#GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016 on instagram

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

gypsy wife quilt along 2016 - fabric selection

 this is my pile of gypsy wife fabrics. i will need no where near this much fabric to complete the quilt, but this is where i go when i'm making a block and need fabric. this is the gathering of fabrics that would work in the quilt. my original pull is much smaller, but over the two years i've been working on the project, i've added and added pieces that seem right to me.

there are dozens of beautiful gypsy wife quilts out there, each with a unique feel and/or theme to it. over the next few weeks, i plan to introduce you to some of them. there is no right or wrong way to go here. i've seen gypsy wifes (wives?) that were all solids, all low-volume, all one designer, or all scrap stash and completely random. mainly, just pick a theme or mood and get pulling fabric. this is certainly a quilt that can take a huge spectrum of variety or would look great with a pared down palette, too.

 for me, when i began gathering fabrics, i was looking for things that said "gypsy" to me. instinctively, i know what this means. putting it into words is a little harder. but here goes!

admittedly, my idea of "gypsy" is personal and completely romanticized. when i think "gypsy" i think rich euorpean fabrics that represent their wanderings over the continent, a motley collection of scraps patched together out of thrift and necessity, bohemian style, rich colors. the image of the gypsy caravan, with it's outdoor camping lifestyle is conjured, so there's a certain element of "picnic" woven into my theme. and maybe a tiny bit of "circus" with trained animals because i think of gypsies as travelling performers.

as far as my color palette goes, when i first saw the quilt pattern, it seemed to me there was a predominance of red (my favorite!) and that appealed to me a lot. so i have tried to incorporate a lot of red in many tints, tones, and shades, which means a variety of pinks, too. yellow, blue, and green also feature strongly as supporting colors. orange and purple are not present, except maybe a few strokes included in some very colorful prints. if you look at the pattern cover, the original gypsy wife has lots of bright colors interspersed with many greys. i like the way they play off each other in that quilt. however, i haven't used many neutrals other than whites and creams in my own palette.

 my print selections can be grouped into several distinct categories i have purposely tried to include. first, there are the rich, busy prints with lots of colors. these are large scale prints and i use them for the biggest sections of the blocks. this is a place you'll find some AMH and Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry and Heather Bailey.

there are a few novelty prints that say "gyspy" to me, which i use for fussy cutting block centers.

 to support these busier prints, i have some monochromatic prints with the right feel and lots of dots, mostly because i noticed several dots in ms. kingwell's original gypsy wife quilt. dots make great supporting fabrics or layers in the blocks. and they are really good for the strips, too.

these ditsy florals and small scale geometric prints are also supporting fabrics in the blocks and are used for strips.

 stripes. i've used stripes a lot in supporting roles, too.

 and there is a stack of solid colored fabrics to break up the business of the quilt and give those prints a bit of room to breathe. i haven't used the solids a lot but find i like them as borders for the blocks that have borders since they will help separate the blocks from other elements surrounding them. i've also used the solids in some of the blocks with multiple layers to give the prints there some room, too.

i've gathered lots of low volume (light) prints to use as the backgrounds in blocks, and to add depth and variety to the strips.

the pattern fabric requirements are pretty vague, and for good reason. this is a scrappy quilt. the designer, ms. kingwell, is of the opinion "the more fabrics the better." and i agree. you won't need very much of any one fabric at all.

i started out by pulling from stash and then buying 1/4yd cuts of the fabrics i thought would compliment what i had gathered. because this quilt consists of many long strips, i think traditionally cut 1/4 yds are more versatile than fat quarters. but don't throw out the fat quarters if you already have them! this is just a tip for buying.

 i have a collection of scraps set aside that can be used in the blocks. there are some tiny components to some of the blocks, so put your little cut off pieces in one pile and dig through them when those small pieces are called for.

i've also been keeping a pile of strips put aside on a platter. when i was following the "make all the blocks in order they appear in the book" system, i was cutting a strip every time i cut into a new fabric. this way i didn't have to cut all 60 strips at the end. this will still work for the "make each section" system of attack, too.  you'll just need to cut a handful of strips at the beginning so you can put together the first few sections.

and while we're on the topic of strips, i need to say the info on the back of the pattern is confusing, or at least misleading.

the fabric requirements on the back of the pattern call for several 4" x wof strips and a few 2" x wof strips. however, the strips actually used in the pattern are 1.5" cut (1" finished) and 1" cut (1/2" finished). you could certainly cut your needed strips from those called for if you already had those sizes on hand. just don't cut your strips at those widths on purpose because you will be cutting again and wasting a lot of fabric.

i hope this has helped you think about what your gypsy wife will be.
next month we will have a link party for sharing fabric selections. in the meantime, please ask questions.

we're on instagram at #GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

why you want to gypsy along in 2016

or at least why megan and i want to . . .

it seems it was only a year ago, but it was actually two, that i was visiting megan on her blog, jaffa quilts, when i saw a very intriguing quilt pattern. it had several rows of scrappy strips sprinkled with a hodge podge of blocks, thickly at the top and dispersing into mostly square-in-square blocks at the bottom. i was in no need of any new projects but i was absolutely smitten with the quilt.

and there was a quilt along organized to spread the joy out over the year. i like a quick finish, but i was ready to push my skill set and learn some new things. i wanted something more complicated that would challenge me and yeild some truly impressive results. a monthly quilt along  seemed fun and doable to me, a great way to pace myself as i slowed down and concentrated on the process more.

at the time, i was just getting my sea legs with quilting. i had a few finishes under my belt and felt my straight lines were getting pretty straight. i had recently branched out to the scary hst shape (bias edges!) and found it not so scary after all. gypsy wife was going to be another step along the learning path. and was it ever!

this gypsy lady will give you a taste of all kinds of blocks without committing to the repetition of the same block many, many times. so for those of us who like variety, come here! admittedly, there are several square-in-square (economy) blocks, but you can change the fabrics each time, so that's not boring at all.

i like that the gypsy wife is sort of a sampler quilt, without a traditional sampler quilt look or layout. it's scrappy wildness at its best. and it is great for eating up scraps. dig out your favorite bits and watch them come together beautifully.

i can testify that as intimidating as this quilt looks, it is doable for someone with only moderate experience, a sense of adventure, and a desire to learn. it will also help if you don't beat yourself up over perfection when mistakes occur or points get lost. this quilt is so wonderfully busy, those little frustrations won't really be noticeable when it's all put togther (so i'm told).

the 2014 quilt along was logically broken down by month to work through the blocks in the order they were presented in the book. that worked really well in some ways. you just went from page to page, making your way through the book.

but over time, i found myself wondering where all the pieces were going to end up, what was going to go next to each other. the pattern is not clear about this and the blocks aren't presented in order of appearance in the quilt - you have to locate the piece in the final layout by scanning several pages to know where it's going to go. so i spend the better part of a cross country plane ride laboriously numbering and lettering each piece in the layout and then cross referencing this to the instructions.

i was having a real love/hate relationship with that pattern for other reasons, too. it does have nice, clear graphics that accompany the explanations for how to construct each block type. however, as someone with only moderate experience, i often found those instructions not as detailed as i would have liked. i was used to having more measurements for component pieces, not having to figure them out myself.

on the one hand, i learned a whole lot by trial and error, figuring my way through the pattern. on the other hand, this slowed me down a lot and sometimes discouraged me.

about halfway through the year, people, of course, were dropping out, for lots of reasons. and some friends decided the system wasn't working for them as it was. this is totally understandable because people are all different! i find no fault at all with the original system. it just didn't work for me. or i just wasn't able to stick with it because of my life and other quilt projects happening and interfering all the time. in the end, out of 30+ participants, there were 7 quilters who linked up to the final finish party. i'm sure others have completed their quilts since then, like megan and liz.

those other smart friends began working on the quilt by sections instead of by page number. this appealed to me because it allowed me to see what was going where and next to what. even though it is a very busy, scrappy quilt, i didn't want to end up with clumps of color or certain fabrics grouped together. i wanted the random more evenly spread around.

i did like how much i was learning. i liked working through this project over a period of time. more than once i spent an entire sewing session on a single block and felt my evening quite enjoyable.

somewhere over the summer, i fell behind and some other projects took priority. and then it got put away all together. so at this point, i have a handful of completed blocks and am ready to jump in again. this time with a different plan and a new set of friends!

megan finished her top, finally, in february 2015, and recently got it quilted and bound, then shocked me by saying she was gifting it to her mother. how on earth could she bear to part with something so labor intensive that she had worked on for so long?! the explanation was that she didn't like the fabrics she had used and just didn't feel the quilt was "her." megan opted to get a fabric kit, which made all the selections for you, which explains her ambivalence with the final product.

after talking to her about her completed quilt, i got itching to get back to my own project. and i teasingly told her she needed to make another gypsy in fabrics of her own choice. well, she listened! and since we were both feeling interest in tackling the project again, i suggested we co-host a quilt along, over fewer months and arranged around sections rather than book-order. she agreed.

we put feelers out on instagram and have a troupe of ladies keen to join us.

our plan is to complete the quilt over 10 months - february to november 2016. we are working out a schedule and generating interest through social media, encouraging participants to get ahold of the pattern and begin fabric selections now.

i have extensive notes all over my pattern booklet that fill in many of the blanks i found missing in instructions. megan, as a veteran with a completed quilt under her belt, has lots of experience to share, too. we plan to do this through alternating monthly blog posts as we quilt along. we would really like to share this knowledge and experience, such as it is, with anyone else interested in making this quilt.

really, for all the headaches it's caused me, it has been a great adventure in the making. i want to do this quilt all the way through and help those who would like to also.

gypsy wife is not the only right of passage quilt out there, but i guarantee you that when you complete one, you will call yourself a real quilter and no one will argue.

so join us!

if you have never seen this pattern but like it, join us.
if you have had the pattern laying around but never made it, now is the time. join us.
if you started the pattern but didn't finish, join us. you'll be ahead!
if you completed a gypsy wife and and want to make another, join us.

all are welcome!

you will find a permanent page with information, schedule, links, etc here on my blog. there is a tab at the top of the page, under the header that will lead you to the gypsy wife quilt along 2016 page.

who's ready to gypsy along?!

we're on instagram at #GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016