Friday, January 20, 2017

365 Challenge

The other project I've been very preoccupied with this month is the 365 Challenge quilt. It is billed by designer Kathryn Kerr as the ultimate sampler quilt. Make a block every day for a year, and you'll have this amazing 90" square quilt. Kathryn published one block a day for all of 2016, and she is repeating the Challenge again this year.

Like so many other things, I learned about the Challenge from someone else's blog and started to work on it last January. I decided to stick with Kathryn's original color plan, blue and brown; but after I finished two weeks worth of blocks, I decided I didn't like my fabrics and, you guessed it, threw it in the closet.

Kathryn has a new Gallery on her website with several finished quilts. They're fabulous, and I was inspired to give it another try. I switched out the background fabrics I used last year for a single dark dark background, and I also eliminated the greenish blues I used in some of the blocks. I am also introducing more browns, and I like them much better now. We'll see how far I get this time.

This is the first week's worth of blocks, Jan 1 - Jan 8. January 1 fell on a Sunday, and I usually consider Mondays to be the beginning of my week, so there are eight blocks from week 1.

The dark borders are mostly 3" blocks, with just a very few 6" blocks. By the second week, there are starting to be some smaller pieces. Kathryn promises there are no pieces that finish smaller than 1/2". It's definitely a challenge working with such small pieces, but the real challenge, I think, is making a block every day for a year...

Two tools have proved to be very useful with these small blocks. One is the Strip Stick. Available in several different lengths, the Strip Stick has a piece of wood or something hard inside which helps make for a very flat seam when you iron on it. I've been using the 9" Stick for my 3" blocks.

The Stick is also rounded on one side, which makes it very easy to sort of isolate a particular seam for pressing, particularly useful with a 3" block.

The other tool that has really been helpful is what I know to be referred to as a tailor's clapper. I've had mine for years and originally used it in garment sewing. I use it now to set on top of a unit or block I've just pressed. The wood draws the moisture out of the fabric and makes for a nice flat, crisp seam.

I got the idea to use the clapper from a local Studio 180 (Deb Tucker's Hunter Star company) instructor who was doing a presentation for a quilt group. She had one and was selling them, and I thought it was a brilliant way to use it. The clapper she had didn't look like mine. The top part with the points was missing, there was just the bottom part. Nancy's Notions has one for 20 bucks, but you might be able to find one for less somewhere else.

Monday I'll have another set of seven blocks done.


Julie Fukuda said...

I think a block a day would be a big challenge. Maybe one a week would be possible if I could prep the pieces ahead. Good luck!

Chantal L. said...

Happy to see your 365 blocks. Sorry to hear these are from the second batch. Mine is also blue and brown, or more like blue and beige. Nice tools you've got. It will probably be easier for you to quilt yours than mine with all those seams. I might just staple mine, lol. ;^)

Judy S. said...

Wow, that sounds like quite a project. What a neat idea for crisp seams; I have one of those gadgets somewhere and need to try it. Good to see you posting again, Sue. Are you doing any knitting these days?

Denise said...

I too have challenged myself to do the 365, so far I have only printed the directions for each.....have to set my mind to getting started and maybe have a marathon day or two to get on track. Love the colors you chose, I also love your Farm Girl Vintage blocks from you previous post.....I have a stack of those blocks as well, looking forward to seeing your progress.