One of the many unfinished quilts I found when I took stock of the projects in my studio in 2014 was The Fish Quilt*. Inspired by a luscious fish print fabric, I selected fabrics to co-ordinate with its colors and made blocks using the traditional pattern Ocean Waves. I love the complex interplay of shape and color in the Ocean Waves block, especially when you put a bunch of them together, but I quickly discovered that they are a bear to piece.

The fabric that started it all
One block… with lots of pieces in it.

See all those little triangles? To look just right, the points need to come together perfectly. This is where the agony pain challenge is. In my mind, it’s the most difficult sewing out there.

My original plan was to make a quilt with 24 blocks in it. When I found this UFO**, I only had 14 blocks done. I knew how long it takes to piece just one of these blocks and I was unhappy to realize I was only halfway there.

So I employed the second strategy on my “What to do with my unfinished projects” list and went with a simpler plan. I decided a smaller quilt of 12 blocks would look just as nice as a big one of 24. So what if the quilt didn’t match anything in my living room? It was going to be the best sofa throw ever. In order to use all the blocks I had made, I decided to use the extras for pillow covers.


Once I put the top together, I knew I’d done the right thing. It’s not as big as I’d planned, but the illusion of motion I expect from an Ocean Waves quilt is there. I’ve finished the pillow covers, and I even experimented with the quilting on them, trying different patterns I might use for the quilt itself.


Having the pillows out on the sofa where I see them every day makes me smile. I thought that being reminded that there’s a quilt that needs my attention might be annoying, but it isn’t. Instead, I’m eager to get to my sewing room, and looking forward to the day when the throw joins the pillows on our sofa.

*”The Fish Quilt” is just the working title. I’ll probably call it something else when I put a label on it. Like “Be Amazed By The Pain-In-The-Ass Piecing, People!”
**UFO: in the quilting world, this stands for “Un-Finished Object”. The kinder term is WIP “Work in Progress”, but I’m geeky and love that it sounds like I have spaceships in my studio.

7 thoughts on “One Way to Finish Quilts Faster: Downsize Your Project”

  1. Amazing! I love it! I tip my hat to you on this one! I hand stitched all my quilts whenever I get in the quilting mood and I know how hard getting those points to match are… I rarely get all the points correct.

    1. I’m in awe of anyone who does all this stuff by hand. I’d never get a quilt finished without the help of my trusty sewing machine!

      1. The last one I made is called Pine Grove from The Thimbleberries book of Quilts. I love pine trees (use to live in the woods of Upstate NY and was surrounded by pine trees) and I presently live on Pine Grove Ave so naturally I had to make that quilt! It took me two years to piece the top together being as I was fitting it inbetween my art, crocheting stuff, and the other stuff I had to do. I knew it would take forever to quilt it so I paid someone to machine quilt it. Will never do that again! The lady didn’t listen to my instructions and it cost me another bunch of money to correct the mistake! (She was suppose to leave material around the quilt top so I could make a large edging and binding…) It is always best to do it yourself!

      2. Wow, that does sound frustrating. For me, the whole point of making quilts is the making, so I’d rather do it myself and get less done…

        I lived in upstate NY (Ithaca area) for over ten years. Loved the forests there, and the waterfalls, too.

      3. Yes, the process is very relaxing but after two years I was kinda over it, I wanted the quilt on my bed! LOL I lived in Salisbury Center and then Dolgeville (about 50 miles from Utica and 25 miles fromHerkimer (I think). I loved it there! The mountains, the forests, the Falls, farmland… extremely inspirational! I made a few quilts and wall hangings when living up there.

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