Lil' Itty Bitties: A Finished Quilt from Paper Pieced Modern
Did you guys know that I was pregnant while writing this book and sewing all of the quilts? My final deadline (for the step-outs - the example blocks shown in the how-to photographs) was two weeks before my baby's due date. The deadline for the quilts was 6 weeks before his due date. Stash asked me to consider this deadline in order to have the book released for QuiltCon. I was completely insane and said yes.
Between tying up a few loose ends, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I had about 17 useable weeks to make 14 quilts (there are two versions included for one pattern). Um, yikes.
Now, I think paper piecing is awesome, but it's far from fast. With just over 1 week per quilt (from start to finish, cutting all the way through to binding), I knew I was
screwed taking on a lot. I got some of my friends to help piece two of the quilts. Darcie bound a number of quilts. My mom pieced two quilts and helped me cut fabric for a few others. She also visited a number of times (we live in different states) to watch the kids while I sewed. Then she stayed up late cutting, sewing, and pressing with me. She is truly a rockstar. My husband also took on a lot during this time. As soon as he came, he took over watching the kids while I ran up to my sewing room. He took the kids out of town for two different weekends, and watched them while I went away for a third weekend, so I could get everything done. I sewed during naptime, until my kids stopped napping at the same time (crisis!). I hired a babysitter to come watch my kids one or two mornings a week, just 4 hours each time. I squeezed as much in as I could. I also sent 4 quilts off to Emily at Emerson Quilting (who worked with some crazy turn-around times to help me out) and 2 to Angela Walters.
All that being said, it was still really hard to meet the deadline. I sewed anywhere from 20 to 50 hours a week, and could never sew while my kids were awake unless they were being watched by another person. All of the sewing had to be done in the evenings, weekends, and babysitting mornings. They were just really young, and my oldest has always needed lots of mom-time. I certainly didn't get enough sleep, and was plain exhausted. I had to pull an all-nighter the night before shipping off my quilts. I had the babysitter come over so I could get some sleep. Oh, and I was pregnant, remember? Let me tell you, basting 3 quilts in a week during your third trimester is not an experience full of sunshine and happiness. Lol. I also had a really rough birth with Johnny (kiddo #2), which was still causing major anemia issues this time around. The combination of chronic anemia, low blood pressure, and chronic (though mild) dehydration during the whole pregnancy made me very weak. Sometimes, it was too difficult to even iron anything.
After everything was finished, I was tired of designing anything, tired of thinking, tired of sewing that many hours. That's why I started Tula's Butterfly Quilt - I didn't want to think, I just wanted the soothing experience of sewing.
I definitely love my book, and love my quilts - but I won't say it was easy. My family had to sacrifice a lot for us to make this all work. I learned my breaking point, and was definitely past what was healthy for us. I'm not sure if I'll ever write another book again, but if I do, I'll know not to do it in that short of a time span with babies at home!!
I really wanted to be able to write about my experience along the way, and then share that with you all now. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do that while I was working on the book, so there are plenty of things I have forgotten, but I hope this small picture gives you a glimpse of what it was like for me!