The Struggle is Part of the Process

Have you ever made a quilt you loved that didn’t require some struggle?

I have. But not many of them. (See below my delectable mountains quilt, Still Climbing Mountains. It was easy and fun, and I love it! And it now belongs to my daughter.) 


Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

As noted in my last post, I’ve been struggling with the start of a new quilt, lacking inspiration, lacking color context, generally lacking direction. Usually when I begin a medallion quilt, which this will be, I begin with a center block. The center helps provide all those things I’ve been lacking. (Well, it doesn’t give me energy and stamina, nor unlimited funds, nor world peace…) But this one I started with a border instead of the center block. Huh. Silly me.

Today I decided to look for a center block. I googled images for “center block medallion quilt,” or something like that. Go ahead and google, if you like. I’ll wait.

A lot of the images are mine, from this blog. And soon I saw one I liked. I clicked into the page and found this post from early 2014. There are three really cool blocks in the post. This is the one I’m going to make:

If you read the post, you’ll see I drew it as a 16″ block. With its 8 x 8 grid, it can be any size that’s a multiple of 8. I chose a size that is easy to cut and will create a biggish block, 28″ finished. That means each grid unit is 3.5″. (3.5″ x 8 = 28″.) So yes, the patches will be biggish, too.


Struggle. It’s part of almost every quilt. It’s part of our daily lives. My knees? This might sound weird, but I feel really fortunate that I injured them. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be working so hard now to get back in shape, to be fit enough to not injure them again. Though I still have a long road to get where I want (sturdy and flexible, with good balance and endurance,) I CANNOT get there without the struggle.

Struggle is part of the process, whether to design/develop a new quilt, or to achieve a physical goal, or to create a more just world.


When you struggle with developing a quilt, don’t get discouraged. Ask for help, as I did. (And thanks to all for the ideas and comments.) Look for inspiration. If you’re making a medallion quilt, I’ve linked a lot of helpful posts above, under the Medallion Lessons tab.


I’ve chosen fabrics for the center block. They are not the oranges and reds you see above. Instead they will be the soothing, cheery colors that I intend for this quilt. Though there are many pieces, construction is simple. I’ve already cut most of the patches so should have a block to show you soon.


15 thoughts on “The Struggle is Part of the Process

  1. claire quilty

    Thanks for helping me find a block for the center of my quilt. A hard lesson I have learned: Start with the Medallion, not the outer edges. Nice to see you are getting back the creativity.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Glad to help! Yes, the center is the primary focal point and I should have started there. Honestly, though, I’ve been so inactive that starting anywhere at all was helpful. Thanks.

  2. Nann

    Sometimes an idea comes to me quick-as-a-flash. Other times, though I look online, browse through Google images, leaf through magazines, and pore over quilt books, the idea remains elusive. Isn’t it funny how our muses choose to inspire us? I think a Carpenter’s Wheel (aka Dutch Rose) will be a great medallion center. (For more colorways: look for Swoon or Castle Wall blocks.)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      The Castle Wall block is a little different. Not sure I’d seen that one before. And I hadn’t heard the name “Dutch Rose” either. Swoon is a slightly different block, a little clunkier looking IMO, but I’ve seen it made up quite nicely. I couldn’t remember the name I was familiar with, Carpenter’s Wheel, so thanks for filling in the blank. Yes, I’ve looked at quilt blocks for a week or more, trying to find the right thing or something to inspire. Funny where I found it. Thanks much.

  3. snarkyquilter

    Thanks for reminding me to look through all my “inspiration” folders I’ve been keeping, both online and in print. And I’m happy for you that you now have a direction for your latest.

  4. tierneycreates

    SO true what you said about the struggle with starting (and finishing quilts). I must say I so love, love, love your Still Climbing Mountains piece – from the name of it, to the wonderful palette!

  5. katechiconi

    Hurray! You’re back on track, and your ‘voice’ sounds much more optimistic and focused. And I love that centre block for the medallion. A reminder to us all to reach out when we get stuck, and that there’s a strong perspiration element to all achievement, along with the inspiration 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That makes me smile — YES perspiration. “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Edison, who would know based on his lifetime of persistent work to solve the challenges that faced him. Yes, feeling better about this project now. The block style works well with my original (quite nebulous) concept, and will work with my intended border, though its colors may need to adjust a bit. Thank you. 🙂


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