Monday, February 15, 2016

cog + wheels quilt

Since last year I have been thinking about what to make on my monastery weekend retreat with my patchwork group. My quilting group organizes a weekend retreat once a year in a monastery or convent where we sew for ourselves; this is not a course. Since there are quite a few monasteries and convents in Germany, you can book meetings, seminars, and retreats of all kinds with a full breakfast, lunch, dinner meals as well as breaks & snacks prepared so you concentrate on your plan at hand. I find it very rewarding and relaxing to have just one dedicated project for a retreat to make complete value of my time. As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I am on a journey of circles this year and decided that I wanted to make a Denyse Schmidt quilt called Cog + Wheels which has mega-sized blocks and mainly circular sewing.

Kloster Heligkreuztal in Altheim, Germany

I designed my quilt using Denyse Schmidt's block and pattern in EQ7 using fabrics from several of her collections using orange, brown and black as a binding color scheme throughout the blocks. These seem to be my "comfort colors" when designing a quilt that is used by my family in our living room. I alternated the black tips to give it more of a scrappy look and a little less unified.

Cog + Wheels Quilt using Different Denyse Schmidt Fabric Collections

I learned from Katrin last year, it is best to cut all of your fabric and blocks before you go on a retreat which really allows you just to sew. I started cutting my fabric two days before the retreat thinking everything was under control. Boy, did I totally underestimated the time it took to cut out the fabric (and sew it together)! Fortunately, I was able to use my new little Roll Buddy.

My Roll Buddy

Even though I usually design my quilts on the computer beforehand, I usually ending up changing a few things around when the fabric is in front of me. I let the fabric talk to me during the sewing process. Sometimes it just jumps around on me and says something totally different than the original plan. I don't mean I sew it together wrong; it just looks better in real life than it did on the plan. I started to lay out the blocks to see if they looked as good as on the plan.

I got my station all set up in this lovely 80 square meter room which has a wonderful size for 13 sewists. I picked a location close to one of the many windows on the South side. We all brought additional lamps which you really need at night when the lighting fails.

Sewing Station Next to the Window

I finished up sewing the outer rings and placed them on a design board to see how I wanted them to work on the inside. Somehow I got really confused; I wasn't sure of my plan anymore. Nothing was looking right. I put them away for the night and started fresh the next morning.

New Arrangements for the Inner Wheels

I decided to stick with my basic original plan of using a light colored fabric for the background of the inner wheel ring. It took the entire day to get back on plan after I ripped out a lot of stitching. Then it was time for my reward after all of the inner wheels and rings were finished.

My reward for finishing the inner wheels

But I didn't stop here on Saturday. I kept on going. I was determined I would sew all finish all 12 blocks by sewing the outer solid linen fabric to complete the blocks. I finished the last block at 00:20. I was dead tired and turned in.

I learned the next morning I sewed one of my blocks together wrong. The outer corner triangles were bowed and not squared. I discovered I sewed the outer ring of just one of the blocks on wrong. You see, these are not entirely round but oblong. The seam which you see at the top of the picture should be rotated 45° to the right. The seam should be at the center of the orange checked fabric and not at the center of the black square. After I realized what I had done wrong, it was all easy street. I finished my quilt blocks and arranged them as outlined in the original plan (according to the outer rings and not the inner wheels).

The outer corner triangles are sewn on wrong.

Now it was the home stretch. I was going to finish the quilt top before the end of the retreat. I ironed all of my blocks and arranged them. I sewed row to row together. I used my beautiful window bank to keep the rows in correct order.

And then it all came together. This is one HUGE quilt top. It measures 66 x 88 inches. It is definitely big enough for a sofa quilt if not a bed quilt. I had no great idea of where to photograph the quilt due to the drizzly rain and overcast skies outside. The lighting inside was also rather drab but Beate helped me to get a fairly good photo in the stairwell! Tada! My Cog + Wheels quilt top finished on one weekend retreat.

Cog + Wheels Quilt in Kloster Heligkreuztal

I managed to get a better photo of the quilt top this morning after being amply ironed and de-stringed. This quilt is very different from many of the quilts that I have made, because it seems that the whole design is more important than the individual blocks. I feel that if you look at each block separately, it doesn't strike me or sing to me. But if you look at it collectively as a whole, it seems more impressive. I think it is because I am used to sewing on a smaller scale and these 22" blocks are so massive. What do you think?

Cog + Wheels Quilt Top

This quilt also took an extremely long time to cut out and to sew. Please don't underestimate this one. It may look easy, but it takes forever. I think it took me forever, because I was creating four separte blocks but alternating the black tips which requires an extra effort for sewing the blocks together correctly.

If you would like to see more pictures from our patchwork retreat, feel free to check them on on Flickr or read a blogpost from my friend Katrin who is also a member of our group on the retreat.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. It may have been an immense process, but it came out beautifully!

  2. Liebe Karen,
    ich finde Du kannst mit Deinem Ergebnis vom Wochenende mehr als zufrieden sein. Ende gut - Alles gut!

  3. Das war von dir auch super geplant. Alles zuschneiden im Vorfeld und dann konntest du beim Retreat "nur" nähen. Das werde ich für unser Nähwochenende mal im Hinterkopf behalten. Viele Grüße, Martina

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  5. Ach, auch in Farbe sieht der Quilt toll aus ☺

  6. Ach, auch in Farbe sieht der Quilt toll aus ☺

  7. WOW das ist eine Leistung für sich! And you still had time to go for a walk! Alter Schwede ich bin beeindruckt! Well Done.

  8. I can only imagine how lovely it was being able to focus 100% on your project. Your quilt top turned out really nice. Be sure to show how you quilt it up when you get to it!

  9. Dear Karen,
    you were there too, what a great location for a retreat. Love your quilt top.

  10. Liebe Karen,
    das war ein perfektes Wochenende! Zeit mit gleichgesinnten beim Nähen zu verbringen ist einfach unbezahlbar. Und das Ergebnis ist so wunderschön! Einfach ein Traum!


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