The Game’s Not Over!

Nope, we’re at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and there’s a lot of time to make a difference. What adjustments will you make to your strategy so you end the year with a win?

(Remember when we were in high school and learned about “stream of consciousness” writing? I don’t usually write that way — it can be hard to follow. But it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new here at all, so we’re gonna go with it…) 

After finishing four pieces at the beginning of August, and then heading out of the country for almost three weeks, I’ve been in a lull for both making and writing. It happens. And I don’t mind. The spell always breaks after a while, and I get revved up again.

One of my intentions this year was to make some quilts for the local VA hospital. My guild distributes some of our 200ish donation quilts a year there. They have a preferred size, approximately 48″ x 60″, and of course recipients are adults, so not all of our members’ contributions suit it. But I don’t much like making baby quilts or little kids’ quilts, as many people do. And with Son in the military, I’d rather make for the vets.

Last week I began by pulling all the dusky teals in my stash. To pair with them, I picked light fabrics with a golden or tan cast. Deciding on block size was … annoying. With 48″ x 60″, 6″ blocks work well (8 blocks by 10 blocks.) Note, though, that requires making 80 blocks. Also when making block quilts with an alternating block, I usually prefer odd numbers of blocks, such as a 7 block by 9 block layout. That allows the blocks to alternate in a balanced way.

Then there are the decisions about using a border or not, and if so, what fabric do I have enough of already in stash? Well, NOTHING. I have NOTHING in stash, to go with the teals, with enough yardage to make borders. Okay. No borders, just blocks.

Finally I decided on shoofly blocks to finish at 7.5″. With a 6 x 8 layout, the size would finish at 45″ x 60″, which works fine. That’s still even numbers, which affects the alternate blocks chosen. What works? Ones that have a diagonal line, such as half-square triangles. In fact, I considered other options but HST are simple and effective. I found a piece of toile just large enough (with some piecing) to make halves, and I pulled my old-fashioned rusty oranges for the other halves. (Some of those are pieced, too. I’ve gotten better at making the fabric work for me, as long as the area is enough. I CAN piece it together. I know how.) 

The picture below is blocks, before being assembled into a top. My overall standard for quilts is pretty simple: would I be pleased if someone gave it to me? The answer on this would be yes. The toile in the HST is paler than all the other lights used. One of the teals is pale, but doesn’t stand out as living in the wrong quilt. One of my teals has as much bronze as teal, and the bronze is what shows most in them. That’s okay with me, too, as it doesn’t stand out, either. And the HST with their strong contrast give great movement. (That’s why there isn’t a balance problem when using them as the alternate, when using even numbers in the rows and columns. The movement and strong line create their own balance.)


What I don’t have is backing fabric or batting. On my list for a stop later today.  (Wrote that yesterday. I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics last evening before meeting a friend for dinner. Got the batting. Picked up three yards of fabric for the back. Had 50% off coupons for both. If this were really stream-of-consciousness, I’d go on about that, and about my favorite quilt shop closing soon.)

hmm… what was I saying about the fourth quarter? What else do you want to get done before year’s end? And how do you fit it all in? I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently on that. One is from my friend Tierney at She wrote about the seven habits of highly effective crafters, a crafty look at Steven Covey’s rules. It covers a lot more than getting projects done, but on that issue, the most relevant is putting first things first. In other words, decide on your priorities. What is most important is not always what seems most urgent. If there are things you want to finish by holidays, for instance, identify them now.

Lori at The Inbox Jaunt takes that a step farther. She recommends using a notebook to inventory projects. Once you know what you have, identify priorities and then list specific, small steps that need to be taken next, to move them along. (Do you quilt your own? Check Lori’s blog for seemingly unending resources for quilting designs and strategies.) 

At this point, I need to think about what I want to accomplish before year end. That will give me a way to identify priorities.

What’s left on your making list for the year? Will you get it all done? 


18 thoughts on “The Game’s Not Over!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Mine is moving slowly, but it’s a pretty low-urgency list. I think the most urgent things right now are to to some labels on some quilts, so they are giveable when the time comes.

  1. tierneycreates

    I like this parameter you mentioned: “My overall standard for quilts is pretty simple: would I be pleased if someone gave it to me?” I am going to keep that in mind when making a quilt as a gift or for charity donation. Come to think of it I did give one quilt for charity auction that…not something I would be pleased with if someone gave me – oops! Oh and thanks for the shout out on my blog post on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Crafters. Sounds like you are staying – highly effective 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I think that is a fair measure. Not everything I make is brilliant, but I can be pleased with it nonetheless. Same goes for others’ efforts. 🙂 I’m not being very effective these days, to tell the truth, but … it’s okay!

  2. Sue

    I have several finishes in progress right now! If family or friends are interested I don’t know about it. I will share the finishes on the blog as they occur!

  3. snarkyquilter

    Good on you for going with the flow, in your writing and your design. You’ve put together a nice mix of muted colors for your quilt, and all from stash! I like the two blocks with the muted teal, kind of between light and dark. As for deadlines, well, I gave up on them as I usually work out of inventory for shows and gifts. I don’t dare offer another quilted object to family and friends, unless they make a request.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t have deadlines anymore, either. And when I make, I’ve found I have to make for me. And then give, as appropriate. Even when I make with owners in mind, it doesn’t always work out the way I expected. (need a shrug emoticon here.) So going with the flow helps ward off disappointments I guess. 🙂

  4. allisonreidnem

    Lovely to follow your stream of consciousness. I have made a little chart with my projects listed against any deadline dates and columns headed: cut, pieced, sandwiched quilted, binding & label. It does help me move from one project to another without getting lost and putting ticks in the boxes shows me I am making progress across a range of things, all be it rather slowly…

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I love hearing how people find what works well for them. Making lists and checking boxes is a little too organized for me! That’s why being linear, usually one project at a time, works well for me.

  5. Cindi Lambert

    This post resonates well with me. I have 3 quilts that MUST be finished in time for Christmas. One, a small one for my granddaughter is nearly done. Working on hand quilting the last border now. The second a larger one for my cousin is in the process of being hand quilted after ditch quilting the plates on my sewing machine (this is a 1930s Dresden Plate pattern). I will never win any awards for sewing machine quilting I can assure you. It remains to be seen if this quilt will see a finish in time but I’m working on it. The third, a housewarming gift from September has been sent out to be longarmed. Solved that problem. What I’d really like to be doing is next summer’s entry for our local fair which also needs to be hand quilted. I try to do “something” every day on projects, even if it’s not a lot. I have several quilts ready to be sewed and I have several that are basted just waiting to be quilted. The list is never-ending.

  6. katechiconi

    For a wonder, I have no urgent deadlines at the moment. Which is just as well, because I’ve never had so many quilts in the pipeline in various stages of completion or planning. It’s a manageable number, though, so I’m not feeling any great pressure, just a wish to get some of them squared away. What is bothering me somewhat is the dressmaking projects, which are piling up as I spot something I want to make, buy the fabric, and then put it away to work on ‘soon’. Soon never seems to come!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes. I bought fabric this summer with intention to make a couple of shirts. So far it hasn’t happened! And they are summer shirts, and we’re heading into fall. I think the fabric might get … what’s the word? reallocated to other things. HI KATE!!! Good to see you. 😀

  7. piecefulwendy

    Thanks for taking us through your thought process; the quilt looks great! You gave me an idea for inventorying my projects, which are all in a pile where I can’t see them. Maybe I should snap a pic with my phone, print it, make notes next to the photo, and put them in a binder. Hmm. That might help me know what’s buried in the pile!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Ooh! That’s a great idea. That can help remind you what needs to be done, or where you got stuck on each of them. Like, you needed more of an odd green to make it work, or need to look up instructions for… Good idea!

      1. piecefulwendy

        Oh! Yes, I didn’t think of that! That would help too when I go shopping; then I could get fabric I needed, and be a bit more purposeful in my shopping.


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