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The fifth wheel (sorry I couldn't resist!) in the Big Wheels quilt.

The fifth wheel (sorry I couldn’t resist!) in the Big Wheels quilt.

I think part of the reason why I’ve been late in posting for the past couple of weeks is because I have been somewhat frustrated with my piecing.

Part of my frustration stems from the fact that I’ve been quilting for over 20 years and I expect quite a bit from myself.

Maybe too much.

So, it seems to me that lately I’ve been ripping things apart more than I’ve been sewing them together.

Admittedly, something like the Cyclone block (number 5 in the Big Wheels quilt) is a difficult block. Twelve curved pieces come together at one point… and I’ve elected to do the whole quilt by machine. One mistake in drafting, taking a seam allowance that’s too big or too small multiplies and causes big problems the more pieces you put together.

Coming on the heels of my attempts to make a New York Beauty block (in the round, instead of just a quarter of it), I was feeling very poorly about my skills.

Block 27 in Grandmother's Choice.

Block 27 in Grandmother’s Choice.

As quilters, we regularly see flaws in piecing and quilting that others (“the muggles” as Frances of The Off-Kilter Quilt calls them) don’t.

I think it’s mostly because we live with the quilt day in and day out at “close range.” It’s much easier to see problem areas that way.

So, even though I strive to get everything together and looking good, it looks like I’m not immune for “perfection-itis.”

I’ll have to work on that because putting blinders on and focussing on what is wrong with my piecing is making quilting a bit less enjoyable for me.  It’s draining my happiness and satisfaction. It’s making it a chore instead of an escape.

Even playing with colors and patterns only seems to bring up the dread that when I cut them out I’m going to ruin the fabric and have to throw away  the block. (Actually that should be “give away” because I’m of Scottish heritage and, genetically, disinclined to throw anything away.)

I guess we all go through those phases when we realize how much we have to yet to learn, even though we think ourselves skilled.

I use these ArtBin boxes to store both completed projects and block that are too big for my metal boxes.

I use these ArtBin boxes to store both completed projects and blocks that are too big for my metal boxes.

On a completely different note, I found a good source for template plastic. “Free” (ish) template plastic.

I am notorious for leaving my projects at the “finished quilt top” stage, so I have been storing them in these ArtBin boxes. (This one is a shallower one, but I have several deeper ones.)

They are meant for paper crafts and scrapbooking and are about 12″ x 12″ in the interior.  I usually get them on sale or with a coupon at craft stores (JoAnn’s, her brother Michael’s, or their cousin A.C. Moore’s.)

Anyway, they usually have several plastic dividers which (because I have trouble throwing anything away) I have been storing with my template plastic.

It just occurred to me to actually USE them as template plastic, and they are great!  They are perfectly see-through (although some are translucent) and have a rough-ish side that makes it easy to keep the template from sliding.

The only caveat I’ve found (so far) is that they don’t take marker well.  Maybe it’s the wrong kind of marker (regular marker will bead, and Micron works, but takes a few minutes to dry.) I haven’t tried my fine line Sharpy yet.

Anyway, I thought if there were others out there buying these boxes as storage and just tossing the innards, I’d suggest you use them as template plastic. After all, if you’ve bought the box, you’ve already paid for the innards!