That memory popped right into my head when I was gifted a bag of narrow scraps from a Kona Cotton Grecian Waters collection. I haven't spent a lot of time out on the water, but I have spent plenty of time with a small jade pendant in my hand, so that's immediately where my mind went. I pulled out every solid and shot cotton I had and held up each piece next to the scraps. I sorted quickly and tried not to think too much. I ended up with two piles. "Maybe" and "Put it Back in the Cupboard." I played with the "Maybes," eliminating rogue colors and colors that were too similar. I also experimented with tints. I enjoy buying solids on sale and will purchase a half yard of pretty much any color I can get my hands on. That strategy paid off with this quilt since I ended up having the kryptonite greens and lavenders in my stash. Neither of those colors are ones that I would be excited to purchase in a store off the bolt, but they are the colors that make this quilt sing.
My birthday present each year is a day away. My husband takes one of his personal days at work so he can watch our children and I can go to a workshop. My guild does a great job getting amazing instructors. In the last three years I have been to classes taught by Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts), Bill Kerr (Modern Quilt Studio) and Jacquie Gering (Tallgrass Prairie Studios). This year it was Jacquie Gering. She came to teach a class on improvisational log cabins. I didn't go into the experience with any great master plan, I just figured that I would listen to what she had to say with an open mind and be inspired. As soon as she mentioned that pineapple blocks were part of the log cabin family, I got excited and wanted to get to work as fast as I could. I loved the radiating arrows in the pineapple block, and somehow those arrows felt right at home with the concept of "Finding Jade."
I don't have any magic strategy tips for how I set the quilt. I made sixteen blocks of different sizes before I joined any together. Of those sixteen blocks, I put four of them aside (one ended up on the back of the quilt). The four rejects weren't ugly blocks, they just didn't fit with the direction the other twelve were going in. Making a bunch of blocks in the beginning was a freeing experience. I tried to do something a little different each time I made a block, and it took me in some interesting directions. I would stop and look at the design wall after I finished each one, and I could see where I needed to go next. I keep a Post-it pad near my sewing machine and I would make notes to myself so I would remember what my impressions were if there was a break in my concentration (like needing to feed my kids breakfast and get them out the door for school on time!). Those notes helped me make work more efficiently because I didn't have to waste time reorienting myself the next time I had some time to sew. When it came time to start joining blocks, I squared the pieces down and made a note of the size. I kept track of the sizes as I built. Once I built my first unit, I knew its measurements and could build other units in appropriate sizes.
I am very happy with the piecing in this quilt. Even though it is a pineapple quilt, I made sure to put in each kind of log cabin block that Jacquie mentioned in her lecture. When it came time to quilt it, I knew that I wanted the piecing to take center stage. It had to be matchstick. It took forever and my triceps are still a little sore, but I know it was the right call. This quilt deserved a matchstick! I used four different colored Aurifil threads in the top and in the back in a combination of 40 wt. and 50 wt. Not that I was counting or anything, but this quilt took 25 bobbins. I *may* have kept a tally on that Post-it pad every time I put a fresh one in.
The quilt finished at 50" x 60."
I know that if you go out looking for beauty, you'll find it. Keep looking! It's there.
Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.