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Cheater’s Compass

December 20, 2004

This is my second quilt, which I finished in December of 1989, just in time to give to my mom for Christmas. I didn’t use a pattern–the Mariner’s Compass blocks were preprinted on fabric my mom gave me (even before I finished my first quilt, I started answering “quilting supplies” when asked what I’d like for Christmas and birthdays), and I combined them with other fabric she’d given me and some I had on hand in this simple design. (I figured since she’d given me the fabric, she couldn’t say anything about the colors I picked, not that she would but that’s the kind of thing I used to be get very worried about.)

As with my first quilt, I pieced by machine and quilted by hand. I used quilting stencils for the first time on this quilt, since while I could just follow the lines in the compass blocks, I had those wide open spaces to fill in the plain blocks. I marked the designs using a yellow pencil in some areas and white or silver in other. I didn’t wash off the markings and noticed when we were back in Illinois for Thanksgiving this year that some of the pencil lines can still be seen, faint but definitely there. I used three different colors of quilting thread–white in the large blocks, avocado in the sashing strips, and wine in the small squares. I couldn’t find wine quilting thread so used regular sewing thread run through beeswax, like I’d read to do somewhere.

I pieced the back to use up fabric I had on hand rather than buying more, but I didn’t make it quite big enough and ended up having to add a few small pieces to it before I put on the binding. I’d read about making binding, but that seemed like a lot of work and I knew packaged bias tape was available, so I bought some of that. I couldn’t find a color that matched, so I went with a neutral tan. Never having bound a quilt before, I got the narrow width and devised my own method for attaching it. I finished the night before we left for Illinois to celebrate the holidays with our families. I named it “Cheater’s Compass” because preprinted blocks are often called “cheater cloth”.


One year ago, I got up very early and, among other things, finished writing and addressing my Christmas cards. This year, I haven’t even bought cards yet. Sending New Year greetings seems like the only option now (other than doing nothing, which I’m not quite resigned to yet).

Two years ago, I evaluated my geek girl qualifications. I am still the only female web developer here, though the sole female client server programmer has started to learn web skills.

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