#SOLSC20: Day 19

Screenshot 2020-01-11 at 4.07.24 PM

I have this dream . . .

“Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is . . .”  – Rolling Stones

The lyrics of this song bounced through my brain. Where or why it appeared is a mystery.  Perhaps a bit of anxiety . . . seven weeks. I’m making progress, but is it enough? Am I on target to meet my deadline?

It doesn’t look like much but two panels are sewn so I have navigated all the planning stages and moved into assembly. Probably 1/16th of the way. Making progress. Slowly. Assembly is not so much about sewing as it is about the ironing. Ironing before sewing. Ironing after sewing. Ironing out the previous fold marks.

This will be the last picture until the top is put together. These are just two of the four center squares framed once. JUST the first 10 pieces fitted together. About 37 more to go.

Screenshot 2020-03-19 at 12.25.55 AMMathematically speaking, does that mean four more days?

Nice trivia, but what’s the point?

Well, assembly of a quilt is complicated . . . if you have never made one before. When the learning is new and the learner is a novice, we often talk about the gradual release of responsibility. Some modeling or inquiry to check knowledge, eventually leading to practice and independence.

I used to, in another century, before my son, sew a lot. I made a lot of my clothes and many, many craft items as gifts as well. I mistakenly thought that sewing would be like riding a bike . . . a skill that I would quickly regain. But that was a different type of fabric, a different machine, and a time when I sewed regularly.

Which comes first:  competence or confidence?

Today I was confident that I could whip through quarter inch seams, pressing fabric, and assembling squares. But I was not competent.  Not. Even. Close.

I had many questions. I needed to mark a 1/4 inch line on the sewing machine so that I was not sewing 3/8 inch seams or 1/8 inch seams. I needed a coach to double check my measurements and give me feedback.  I needed to talk through my understanding of the written directions. I could look at the directions and the pictures but what did it mean? I have one page of directions for assembly. That page is more than adequate for a quilter; not so for a novice!


I asked a lot of questions. When in doubt, I ironed before stitching. I  ironed after stitching. I trimmed threads . . . and thread . . . and threads.  I slowed down to double check. And, of course, when trouble happened and the upper thread snapped in the first inch of the best sewn 16 inch strip, the air turned blue with the thoughts bouncing around in my brain. It was time to get a drink and get up and move in order to remove myself from the situation.

I had to give myself grace to make mistakes on a scrap of fabric.

I had to give myself space when it didn’t work as I expected.

I had to get some feedback.

I had to talk about my understanding of what I was going to do so my drafting matched my planning.

I had to give myself more time when I “anxioused” about the result.

Why does this matter?

Isn’t this the same respect that ALL of our students deserve every day?

What happens when “the dream” hits a pothole?

How do you get back on track?

How do you model your learning for your students?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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8 responses

  1. So much wisdom in this post… once the dust settles, this is what is going to matter. I think I know who this is for … but you don’t say. Is it a surprise?

    1. Clare,
      This is third day about this project that was revealed back on Day 2. Birthday surprise for the young man. Frequent consultation with his mom! Thank goodness I have time!

  2. Modeling is key, I think. We all learn differently, but when we teachers show our thinking and demonstrate our process, students see that new learning is a struggle for everyone. I love that you are reflecting as you learn. So much to share with students here. And, yes, thank goodness we have time, though we wouldn’t wish to have it this way.

    1. Time is so valuable, Diane. Time for modeling, thinking, practicing, and making mistakes. So many reasons that life and learning should not always be in “hurry up” mode!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Another great post comparing your quilting process with the learning our students do. So many steps. So much needed along with LOTS of confidence. Thanks for getting me to think deeper through your quilting example.

    1. Thanks, Sally.it could be baking, flower arranging, learning a musical insteument, sketchnoting or . . . How many practices?

  4. Because ironing is so important in getting pieces to lay flat Kathy has her ironing board set up right next to her sewing machine. Practice is important. I think many times our students get frustrated because they expect expertise the first time out.

  5. […] posts about the birthday quilt are here, here, here and […]

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