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


  1. Great post Hydeeann - we have a fair bit of Gypsy Wife history between us! Nice to see some of your lovely blocks again too.

  2. I've had the pattern booklet and fabric ready for this quilt for few months now... This blog post must be the sign to finally start sewing my very own Gypsy Wife quilt! ;)

  3. Goodness, Girl ~ when you jump back in; you jump IN!! I'm not going to join you in sewing up a gypsy wife but I'll enjoy following your journey.

  4. Looking forward to following your progress. I love that you have included those vibrant red fabrics in your selection! I always felt I was a bit too restrained in my choices for my version. Tempted to join in now!

  5. This has been on my quilt bucket list and I would love to give it a go with you. What you said resonated with me about how you would like to approach it in sections. I haven't seen the pattern yet but I know that would frustrate me as well and I would love to go through it with y'all in a way that may be better suited to me :) Thanks for the push. I am going to have to research how I want to approach it color/pattern wise next. This will be fun!

  6. I've finished one, got a second waiting to be basted, and yes, I am tempted to join in. After all, one is in summer colours, and another autumnal. Thats two more seasonal palettes I need to address. I agree with taking a section by section approach. It amazes me how I can randomly attack fabric choice, and yet still end up with blocks with very similar fabrics all clumped together. I end up re-making a few during the final construction in frustration. That said, I just love this quilt.

  7. This is a quilt I have wanted to make for a while now so I am hoping to join in!

  8. Yes, yes and yes!! I bought the pattern around two months and this was the first project on my list for this year - count me in please - but presently I am not on instagram are all participants required to be?

  9. I'm about 1/2 thru the quilt now. At times it us a struggle! Why 2 strips side by side that equsl 1? But I am so enjoying playing with the groups of fabric I choose. I choose fabrics I normally would never buy.

  10. Looking awesome! I love the elephant.

  11. This is so wonderful!!! The Gypsy Wife quilt is one of the projects on my list of things to complete this year. I have made just a couple of the blocks. Thanks for doing this!!!

  12. That is going to be a beautiful quilt - those fabrics - AAAH - lovely. Can't wait to see the finished project.


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