Economy and Rough Drafts

Economy Block_6

I help teach a group of beginning quilters, and we call ourselves First Monday Sew-day, and yes, I know it’s not the First Monday today, but it’s COVID-19 season and nothing is normal anymore.  For this First Monday Sew-day, I chose to teach the Economy block, also known as the Square-in-a-Square block.

April 2020 First Monday ILLUS.png

I’ve made a little handout to go along with this, which includes a detailed chart of measurements.  Click to download the PDF file:

FirstMondaySewday_4_2020

(NOTE: I’ve also collected all my First Monday Posts and put them in their own page at the top of my blog, just in case you want to find them easily.)

Economy Block_1

I looked at Catbird Quilt Studios’ chart, but then decided I wanted to test out my own measurements.  First I cut some sunny yellow fabric for the centers.

Economy Block_2

I pulled some neutrals from my stash, cut the triangles, then painstakingly went through each measurement, adjusting it to what I thought would work for teaching beginners, then went to work.

Economy Block_2a

After getting the first set of triangles on, I squared it up, jotting down the measurements as I went through each size.

Economy Block_4cEconomy Block_4bEconomy Block_4a

When you trim, do your best to leave a 1/4″ of seam allowance at each point, as shown above.

Economy Block_5

I love this color of blue, known around our house as painting-tape blue.

I’ve already put the triangles on the first two sides and pressed them.  Now I’m starting on the second set, with the finish below:Economy Block_3

Economy Block_7

Here are all the sizes, stacked up together.  I’m thinking bordering the smallest sizes again to equal that large 15″ block in the lower left, and seeing what evolves.

ISpy_ISpyPanel_Bermuda

This is a free pattern from the Robert Kaufman Fabric Company, and it uses the Economy block, but the quiltmaker fussy cut center blocks for more interest.

Into the Woods front

I added one more set of triangles on this economy block to get this quilt. Doing a search on “economy block” yields lots of images to scroll through.

Pinwheel with Economy.jpeg

I liked how this quilt maker had pinwheels inside their Economy blocks.  Our beginners learned how to make pinwheels when they learned about Half-Square Triangles.

tiny nine patches

Making Masks April 2020

And I’m still making masks.  I am making them for people I know, friends and family who need them as our particular county is a mask-wearing place.

Mask Iteration 4.jpg

So when two friends came by and I realized that these masks wouldn’t work for them, I went back to the Accordian-style mask, added a nosewire sleeve and turned the sides into plackets, through which I could slip some elastic.

I’d say this is the fourth or fifth iteration of cloth masks that I’ve made.  I kept wondering why I couldn’t be like all the other mask-makers of our particular universe, and just settle into one kind?  I was heartened by “Tear It Up and Start Again,” an article by Harry Guiness, that reminded me of things I used to teach my college students, back in the day.  I reminded them never to turn in their first draft, as the really good writing starts to happen on the third or fourth rounds (inevitably the class would groan about this point).  Guiness notes that “Too often, when it comes to self-improvement, we create idealized, top-down systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We naïvely assume that we will somehow stick to our rigid plans when life gets random and hard, throwing unavoidable chaos and crises into the mix.”

We’ve all had some unavoidable chaos recently.  While this article dealt more with those self-improvement plans we all make for ourselves (I hope you have all torn yours up during this stay-at-home time), I did like his nuggets of truth, such as this one: “When a plan or resolution fails, the solution isn’t to dismiss it and try a new, equally rigid prescription next year or next time. It’s to build on what worked, ruthlessly cut what didn’t and start straight away on a much-improved second draft.”  I like that I won’t have to discard what I learned in my first draft, but can carry forward the best parts.

“I never lose. I win or learn.” This phrase has been attributed to many, but whoever said it was on to something.  Hopefully we won’t lose during this time of forced idleness (for some), crashing boredom (for some), an onslaught of toomuchtodo (for some).  We can win at our tasks if everything goes smoothly.  However, you can tell by my variety of masks that it doesn’t — usually — go smoothly for me, but we can still learn new things about others, or new things about ourselves.

I’ve learned I like to tinker to figure out which mask will fit which face.  I’ve learned that I can’t read the news before I go to bed at night.  I’ve learned that my current forced isolation and distraction (courtesy of the novel corona virus) is not the best working environment for getting my quilting projects done.

I’ve learned a million new science-y facts about peak dates and doubling rates and flattening the curve and so on (I am married to a scientist), which may or may not come in handy in the Life After COVID-19.  But hopefully I’ve also learned that my first drafts can lead to successful subsequent drafts, no matter whether it’s writing, or quilting, or making masks.

tiny-nine-patches

Last Supper

The Last Supper of Christ, by Jorge Coco

Happy Easter to everyone!

9 thoughts on “Economy and Rough Drafts

  1. Interesting thoughts Elizabeth. I try to teach my young students (12 year olds) that when re-drafting their writing to not erase, that what they have written is part of the learning process. And who knows, they may just want some of that they are discarding. Seems I might be on the right track.

  2. Happy Easter dear friend! Ah, your posts are always a highlight to my days and I like them best served at the crack of dawn. Like you, I’ve made many masks and with each one learn something new, and always trying to best accommodate the end-user. For one fellow the elastic loops didn’t work because they kept popping off an ear, for admin folks in a hospital knit ties worked better than loops or cotton ties, for another they only liked the bandanna-made-into-a-mask variety. AAHHHH!!! I’d really like to get back to just get back to quilting. And these days, even that requires multiple drafts I have found. Am anxious to try your “block in a block” plan, figuring it will be excellent for all these fabric collections I have – many thanks for sharing so generously! Best wishes to you and the scientist! 🙂

  3. I thought the first photo was a modern quilt based on a traditional block. I still like that idea, though it wasn’t where the post was going.

    I like applying the revised draft idea beyond writing to quilting and lift.

  4. Lucky beginning quilters to have you guiding them. The economy block is so versatile. I like your thoughts about drafts! I work that way too – often iteration after iteration. Just so distracted right now though for much of anything!

  5. Thank you for this. I have unofficially joined your First Monday group. 🙂 I was thinking of making a sampler quilt to learn the different blocks but I love the way you “teach” online so decision made. I even have the perfect fabric in mind for the economy blocks. Happy Monday! I think I see the sun!

  6. Thanks for sharing all the info and doing all the work for the different sizes. It’s a great reference for future quilts. Not that I need to be tempted to start something else new but who knows.

  7. I’m on the third iteration of mask-making myself, but mostly because I keep switching to meet the desires of the groups I am sewing for. Sigh. I do love your discussion of building on what works and discarding what doesn’t.

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