“Batch Work Patch Work”

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to do a quilt trunk show for the Utah Valley Quilt Guild Retreat at Aspen Grove. After a busy day of class, I headed up the mountain with 3 large suitcases filled with quilts I’ve completed in the last year or so. They asked me to come talk about how I get so many quilts made while living such a busy life.

I told them this last batch of 35+ quilts was a result of attending my quilting friend, ReVoe’s funeral in August of 2011. At her viewing, the 2 of her 6 daughters-in-law who were quilters described to me the painful week they’d just spent dismantling ReVoe’s quilting room which was filled with dozens and dozens of her unfinished projects. (It’s hard to give an unfinished project to family not interested in finishing it.)

I went home that night and couldn’t sleep. The next morning I got up and went to my computer and started typing a description of each quilt project that was in some stage of development down in my sewing room. From my head (without leaving my computer) I listed more than 80 unfinished quilts. Then I went down to see what I’d missed. That filled a few more pages. I realized that many of my unfinished quilts were close to completion, some needing only borders or they were blocks just needing to be assembled. Then I went to work, finishing one after the next, all the time thinking of ReVoe. I do not want to die with my work still in me. I do not want my children to wonder what to do with my good intentions, left unfinished.

I love to make quilts. I suppose I love to make them more than I love to finish them. When I cut fabric, I cut for multiple quilts at the same time from the same fabrics. By multiplying my efforts in the early stages of a quilt, I can usually make 2 or 3 quilts in the time most women make one. That’s what the women at Aspen Grove wanted to hear about. It was fun to show my quilts, one after the next, and describe how cutting and making multiples during the process results in multiples at the finishing end.

I recently read a quilter’s blog where she described a similar idea, calling her process “Batch Work Patch Work.” I enjoy doing the same, making multiples of similar parts that can be assembled into different quilts. It’s part of the creative challenge I enjoy, and it enables me to make lots of quilts in a short amount of time. For example, the 2 quilts below are made of 9-patches. The first quilt has 256 nine patches. So I made 1050 of them (it takes almost the same amount of time to cut and sew 3 as it does to make 1). The second quilt was made with some of the left overs, and I still have enough to make 2 or 3 more quilts. They multiply like magic. Presto. It was fun to watch the ladies catch the vision of how slightly multiplying their efforts can make a huge difference in the outcome. It’s magical. It’s fun. It’s what I do.

Here are two more quilts eventually made from that batch of nine patches:

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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