It All Started A Year (Or Three) Ago...

This is me today at the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines --- by a poster featuring the edge of my* quilt!    How in the world did that happen?

*I can't take all the credit.  Wonderful friends turned pattern testers piece the blocks.  Thanks!!!  Then I made a few more blocks, set and quilted it.

It actually started a year ago.  No, it started three and a half years ago when I started the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler in May of 2011.  I wanted to stretch my quilting skills and try new things and thought that a quilt along would be a great way to learn new skills and encourage others to stretch themselves too.

Blocks from Flying Geese Month progressing from easy to challenging (L to R)
Every month the sampler would focus on a different a different quilting skill like half square triangles, flying geese, curves or applique.  And each month I would write or link to three quilt block tutorials featuring that skill.  The first week's block would be easy and straight forward, the second would be intermediate and the third block of the month would be challenging.

The Skill Builder Sampler ran for a year (you can find all of the posts here) and I learned tons both about quilting and writing.  I finally finished piecing the blocks into quilts a few months before my daughter was born (Sep. 2012) and it took another 6 months to get them quilted up.

So during the summer of 2013 with the quilts finished and the baby getting older, I found myself thinking about the sampler.  I thought the idea of having different skills with easy, medium and challenging blocks was brilliant.  Book worthy even.  I started thinking about some changes I would make (I couldn't use other people's tutorials this time!) and worked on fine tuning the quilt block choices.

The only problem was that I had 5 kids (one who didn't sleep through the night) and a full life of other responsibilities.  I would look up info on publishing companies and at writing proposals and then get overwhelmed and cry.  I knew I wouldn't be able to really do this until all of the kids were in school...four. more. loooong. years....cue more crying.

Then Marlene, who had participated in the quilt along, emailed me.  Her quilt had been accepted into the Des Moines AQS Show and had won second place!  We set up a time to meet at the show (one year ago this week!).  She was teaching a class based on the Skill Builder Sampler and we met later to discuss working together to turn the Skill Builder Sampler into a Block of the Month program that quilt shops could purchase and teach from.  Marlene had written up tutorials for the first 18 quilt blocks and suddenly it seemed like it might actually be possible to get the sampler published.

The King Sized Mock Up
However, it soon became apparent to me that I would not be happy with the Skill Builder Sampler being a Block of the Month program.  It was meant to be a book.  We wrote up the first two chapters (I think those were the hardest to write!) and sent our proposal in to AQS.  (That process will get it's own post later because I think there should be more written about the publication process.)

And on December 6th of last year I got a call saying they had accepted our proposal!!!!  And then the crazy reality of writing instructions for 36 quilt blocks and sewing king, twin, throw and baby sized quilts in just a few months set in.  It is amazing what you can do (and what you have to let slide!) when you have committed to something and have a deadline.

Fabric Pull for the Throw Sized Quilt
And that is why I didn't post very much this winter/spring/summer.  The manuscript and quilts were turned in on May 15th and I was burned out and needed a break from quilting.  (Never thought I would say that!)

A few weeks after everything was turned in, I got an email asking for permission to use the twin sized quilt in some of AQS's QuiltWeek publicity.  Yes!!!

And the rest is, the rest will be written about next week.  Right now it is time to make dinner.  :)