WIPs Part II: Taupe Winding Ways

January 29, 2010 at 11:49 am 1 comment

Since I mentioned it while discussing Ruby Wedding, I should probably introduce Taupe Winding Ways, probably the oldest project I can legitimately call a WIP:

Taupe Winding Ways

I would eat these fabrics with a spoon if I could.

I started this quilt at my guild retreat in April 2005.  I had started collecting the Daiwabo taupe fabrics from Japan after reading the article “Taupe:  Brown’s Elegant Cousin” by Jan Magee with Yoko Saito in the April 2004 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine.  I picked up more than a few at the Pinwheels booth at Quilt Odyssey, then built my collection on the Eastern Pennsylvania Shop Hop.  In fall 2004 – spring 2005, it was not a common color for American commercial fabrics, and I hadn’t yet developed my eye for differentiating the cooler shades of taupe from the warmer country-primitive yellow-browns; I frequently had to carry swatches of “true” taupes for comparison.  But that made it a fun treasure hunt, and although I hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to do with these fabrics, I knew I wanted it to be something special.

In the meantime, while in Indianapolis on vacation in August 2004, I had visited Kaye England‘s shop Quilt Quarters just south of the city.  (That branch has sadly closed since Kaye retired from shop ownership, but its sister shop in Carmel, IN is going strong under new ownership and is well worth visiting.)   There I purchased, after seeing a gorgeous shop model and hearing rave reviews of the technique, the book “Winding Ways Quilts:  A Practically Pinless Approach” by Nancy Elliott MacDonald.

My life has demonstrated in many ways more dramatic than this the truth of the saying, “Never say never.”  I’ve said I’d never do hand applique or hand quilting and lived to rue the day, so it’s no surprise that I used to say I’d never do curved piecing.  I don’t know why I was afraid of it, other than the fact that many more experienced quilters than I had said it was difficult.

But every apparel sewer who has set in a sleeve or done a princess seam has achieved curved piecing, and I’ve certainly done both many times over.  Besides — difficult?  I thrive on difficulty!  As my husband is wont to say, I’m a difficultist!  And Nancy Elliott MacDonald’s book is truly excellent, with pictures that illustrate every single step.  (I have had it with books and magazines that purport to show a technique step-by-step, but seem to have a “black box” step somewhere in the middle.  “Here are completely superfluous pictures of steps 1 and 2, which are patently obvious, then a miracle occurs off-camera, and here we are at step 4.”  Grrr.)

So, after deciding to make a taupe winding ways quilt, I spent the entire first day of the guild retreat lovingly sorting, pressing, and cutting my precious taupe fabrics.  I took a good deal of kidding from the other attendees, because as I went through the fabrics I kept exclaiming, “Oh, this one’s my favorite!” … two fabrics later… “Oh, this one’s my favorite!”  It pretty much took all weekend to make a three block by three block square so I could see a complete circle in the secondary pattern, but I was thrilled with the result.  So thrilled, in fact, that I decided to make a queen-sized quilt.  Out of six inch blocks.

That’s 255 blocks, with 64 half-blocks for the border.  Oy.

However, it really has been a WIP lo these nearly five years.  Any time I just want to spend some pleasant hours at the sewing machine, I sit down and make winding ways blocks, usually in sets of 12: six light-on-dark, six dark-on-light.  I did all the cutting several years ago, so I just have to pair sets of “middles” with sets of “borders” and sew away.  I’ve kept a running tally on the whiteboard in the studio as to how many blocks are complete.

stack of winding ways blocks

I can make a quick trick block stack.

About three years ago, I decided to sew together a quarter of the top so that I’d have a more tangible sign of progress than just the growing stacks of blocks; that’s the picture at the top of this post and in the blog header.  I took it with me to a quilting design class at Quilting with Machines in Aurora, OH in October 2009 to get classmates’ suggestions as to how to quilt it, so I’m excited about that step.  I thought I’d get motivated to finish the whole thing in time for our guild show in June 2010, but that was when I still believed I’d have Ruby Wedding finished last July; I sincerely doubt they would both be finished in time.

The big news, though, is that as of two weeks ago, I have all 255 blocks completed!  I still have to make the half-blocks for the border… and assemble it… and make a back… and baste… and quilt… and bind…  But hey!  The journey of a thousand miles and all that!  It’s taken me almost five years to make 255 blocks; the rest isn’t going to be finished in five minutes.

And this is going to be one that’s worth the wait.


Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, WIPs. Tags: , , , .

And Introducing the WIPs! Part I: Ruby Wedding Inspiration Interlude: TQS #508, Paula Nadelstern

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. ufocoach  |  January 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Wow! This is a gorgeous quilt. I’m happy for you to have all 255 blocks complete. I can hardly wait to see how you quilt it! You go, girl!


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