I Got 9,999 Problems and a Stitch Ain't One by Tulsa MQG
By Shawna Gehres
For the theme of Modern Traditionalism, we updated the traditional Trip Around the World quilt by building it from micro-pieced tone-on-tone traditional blocks, measuring 3 inches square.
From a distance, these blocks appear solid, but an up-close viewing reveals tiny versions of traditional 9-patch blocks, including churn dash and flying geese. Some of the three-inch blocks include as many 18 pieces!
We employed paper piecing, trimmed relentlessly, and challenged ourselves to sew with accurate seam allowances as we assembled the quilt.
Unlike the prior QuiltCon charity quilts our guild has made, in which we assigned parts of the quilt to individuals to sew at home and return for assembly into the final quilt, this was much more of a communal activity. Until the final assembly stage, all the work of cutting, piecing, trimming and pressing was done together during group sew days.
Because there was so much ground work to be done as we assembled the tiny blocks, we even brought pieced blocks to guild meetings, and members removed the paper from paper piecing, trimmed blocks (so much trimming!), or ironed as they sat and listened during guild
meetings. This was truly a group effort!
To build the blocks, we paper pieced the half-square triangles and employed various strip piecing
techniques. We started with the white blocks, which were most numerous and then worked our way through the other colors. By the time our guild’s annual retreat rolled around in October, we were constructing blocks in five different colors, so we set up five different Featherweights, each with a different color of thread, and encouraged members to take breaks from their own sewing to work for a bit on the charity quilt.
Our biggest challenge in creating a quilt with this many small pieces was attaining accuracy in piecing and seam allowances. This was truly challenging at times, with so many different people sewing with different types of machines, but we worked toward this by reminding ourselves this was a skill-building challenge, trimming at each stage of the process, seam-ripping a bit, and employing a lot of patience.
The overall design makes the traditional modern not only by playing with scale, it also explores negative space as the Trip Around the World fades toward white in the upper left corner of the quilt.
The quilt has a total of 9,999 pieces, which inspired the title “I Got 9,999 Problems and a Stitch Ain’t One.”
To learn more about the Tulsa MQG, visit them on Instagram @tulsamqg.