Week in Review 2023 – 12/08

Have a System

I have a system for just about everything. I am fortunate that systems come naturally to me. They are my coping method for life. Yes, I alphabetize my spices, arrange my fabric stash by hue and value, same for my threads. I find the time to set up and maintain a system is worth the effort. I can find what I need instantly and know what the next step in the process will be. No time wasted dithering. Am I as rigid as that sounds? Yes and no. A good thing is my systems are always a work in progress. I update and tweak them as needed.

Sue’s System

Sue is “cut” from the background and the background is deleted.

Sue (both the name of the quilt and person being depicted) is requiring me to devise new systems. The quilt will be approximately 33″ H x 24″ W. This is the largest size I have ever attempted to thread paint and appliqué. Sue’s body will be thread painted, while her clothes are being appliquéd. There will also be a background. Feel free to make suggestions on what the background should be and how I should create it. My system is to treat Sue as I would an appliqué, building her up from back to front. I started by thread painting her right foot.

Testing my idea for how to handle my plans for appliquéing Sue’s clothes.

Appliqué is not my forte. Nevertheless, I will persevere. The highlights and shadows are too small to easily appliqué, so I am fusing those. I am using pillow turn appliqué for the largest pieces in the background. Each appliqué will be stitched to the background fabric with a blind hem stitch. Now that I have developed a system, I am able to tackle her tank top.

The white fabric is see through. I used white muslin on the back side to make it the tank top opaque.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge

When I am not working on Sue, I am working on my 2024 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt. It should come as no surprise I have systems for this, too. I begin by drafting my pattern.

Each square will be string pieced and measures 7″ x 7″
I spotted this quilt on Pinterest and knew I wanted to do something similar.

Last week I shared how I would create the black and white fabric strips. This week I cut the strata and began piecing the centers of the blocks. Of course, with 255 blocks to make I have a long ways to go, just do the center sections. The great thing is when the color is announced in January, all I have to do is pull out those partial blocks and focus on the color of the month! Don’t you just love a good system?

Paper piecing is a great system for ensuring straight seams and matching points.

A System For That Too!

The quilt is made up of blocks that are predominately half of one color and half of another. How will I make sure I make only the blocks I need? I can’t start randomly piecing blue blocks or combining blue and green, for example, or I might end up with blocks I don’t need and not what I do need. Yes, I have a system for that, too. I have created a pattern with just the navy blocks, for now. Once a block is finished, I check it off. I even have plans to place the blocks by rows in bags as I make them.

My system for determining how many dark blue blocks I will need.

I’m linking up to the following posts:

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. That’s quite the set of systems you have there! And yes…I work in a fairly systematic way. I have a friend who used to tell me I was “BO — Born Organized”! So while my systems and methods differ from yours, and have become more “loosey-goosey” over the years, I definitely have them, and agree that they make my life easier!

    1. … And I only shared a few of my systems. 🙂 I prefer Born Organized to the implication that I am … fill in the blank to however you think of someone who files vs. piles and never works up to the last minute to meet a deadline.

  2. It’s so interesting to read about your process with Sue! I’m not a particularly organized or systematic person, but appreciate people who are. You definitely need a system to keep track of the layout and blocks needed for your RSC project!

    1. Typically, when I am making a more traditional quilt based on blocks, I create the blocks as though I am reading a book. In other words I start at the top left corner and make the first row from left to right. Then I proceed to the second row and so on. However, this quilt, if I am to follow the color of the month, just can’t be made that way. Hence a new system created out of necessity to keep me sane.

  3. Great system, and even better if it works for you 😉 I agree with being organized for your RSC project, it needs some planning ahead to not mix the two-color blocks. I love your half-blocks by the way!
    Sue is going to be fantastic too.
    Thank you for sharing your process and organization, and linking up!

    1. When I saw the quilt that is the inspiration for my 2024 RSC I hadn’t realized that each half of the block was a different color and the diamond form of the same color is made up of four blocks seamed together. It wasn’t until I sat down to stitch and new I would need to work out the pairings of colors, I knew I needed a system before things got dreadfully messed up.

  4. I’m enjoying seeing “Sue” come together. I liked reading about your system and look forward to seeing your RSC project.

  5. Thank you for sharing how you organize your work. It may sound odd to you to hear this…but I’ve often avoided patterns where organizing a lot of different blocks would be required because I couldn’t imagine how I’d do all the organizing. Light bulbs just went off in my head when you said you sometimes build a quilt as you would read a book…from the upper left corner. Well yeah! It could be done that way. No one says you have to build every block in the quilt before you start putting the blocks together. But…I never thought about it any other way than make all the blocks, then put all the blocks together with sashings or sashings and cornerstones or whatever.

    1. It doesn’t sound odd at all, Laurie. Thank you for sharing your Eureka moment. Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had similar experiences when something is revealed. I’m glad I could be of help.

    1. Thank you, Alycia. I did the initial draft on EQ8. I was going to fill in the colors, but realized that was boring, time consuming task. So, I simply created the line drawing, a fast and easy task. Next I played with colored pencils to quickly play with different block layouts. However, once I started piecing I realized I needed to do a little more. So, back to EQ, but I drafted a half square block vs a string pieced block. It is faster to do the coloring that way.

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