UFQ #20: Nearly Insane

..or the UFQ to end all UFQ’s…

Most quilters have heard of a Dear Jane quilt. A challenge beyond challenging. Lots of quilters have started Dear Jane quilts, there is even EQ software to help you do your own Dear Jane quilt. My challenge? The Nearly Insane quilt. Heard of it? It’s sometimes called a Salinda Quilt. Few quilters seem to have heard of it. It’s recreated from a quilt made in Pennsylvania around 1870 by Salinda W. Rupp. Here is a photo of her original quilt:


It has ninety eight 6″ blocks. That’s right, 98. No two are alike. It measures 90 x 90. I started making one (a Salinda Quilt, or a Nearly Insane Quilt) in February 2004, as part of a year-long class. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened this month’s issue of Australian Quilters Companion…

…and found this!


A small group of quilters, the Kilmore Kwilters, each made there own Nearly Insane quilt as a challenge put to them by one of there members. The article says at least 14 of them were to be on display at the quilt show in Victoria last month. Oh, how I wish Iowa was not so far from Australia. I would have loved to see them in person!

These blocks are all so different, and drafted by a 19th Century Amercian woman we know very little about. But, my she must have been intelligent. A wiz at mathematics. Had a great eye for color. She must have been extremely creative. Patient. Resilient. Determined. Above all, determined.

The quilt got the name Nearly Insane by Liz Lois, who researched and drafted the block patterns for a book she published in 2003:


The book tells her story of making her own Salinda/Nearly Insane Quilt over the course of three and a half years, along with five other women. Her pattern book has a line drawing for each block, but no instructions on how to construct each block, only general instructions for making the quilt. The class I took, was taught by a wonderful quilter, talented beader, and all around fabulous person, Lisa Caryl. Lisa redrafted each block and developed paper piecing foundations for many of the blocks for us.

Here’s mine…

PROJECT NAME: Nearly Insane Quilt, UFQ #20

DATE STARTED: February 2005

ORIGINAL PURPOSE: Taking a twelve month class where I would learn to paper piece, English Paper Piece, and almost everything wise I now know about quilting. Getting to spend time with my new friend, Toni. Getting to make a great new friend, Nan. Getting to know and work with Lisa.

CURRENT STATE: I have 50 blocks made, out of 98. Over half way there! I’ve kept all my patterns and completed blocks in this giant three-ring binder through the process:

Here is my progress sheet, I’ve colored in the blocks I have done (I think I’m a little behind on coloring them in…) There’s my English Paper Pieced star, a block I should not have used light thread on, because my stitches now show. Oh well. Live and learn.


A few more of my completed blocks. They are all made of batiks. This is when I fell head over heels in lust with batik fabrics! I love that one on the bottom right…


Some are pretty challenging. Block #18, here is mine…has 229 pieces in it. That’s right, I counted ’em ’cause I though Liz Lois had to be mistaken. Nope. Keep in mind this is a 6″ square blocks. Those are some seriously small half-square triangles.


My points aren’t all perfect. Do I care? No, I made a small block with 229 pieces in it. It’s done. I don’t ever have to do it again. I’m good.

REASON FOR NOT FINISHING IT: It has 98 six inch blocks. ’nuff said.

PLAN FOR FINISHING IT: It will be done. One day it will be done. I mean, only 48 more blocks to go, right? And setting and sashing, and quilting and binding….I think a reasonable deadline is the end of 2010. That gives me 28 months. I can make two blocks a month, with four months to spare for setting, quilting and binding them. That’s totally doable. Don’t ya think?

Here a few more of my blocks:

I’ll keep posting as I make my two blocks every month…

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6 thoughts on “UFQ #20: Nearly Insane

  1. Wow..that IS insane. But in a good way. It’s going to be gorgeous when you get it done. I particularly love that you chose batiks, so lush.I myself have a UFO that has 90+ squares. The squares are all the same (it’s a twisted log cabin) but use different fabrics and they have 40+ pieces each and can’t be strip pieced or anything.I’m a little more than 1/2 done but I haven’t worked on it in at least 7 years (I started it probably about 12 years ago). I may give up… 😦

  2. Bravo! I look forward to following your progress. I'm still dragging my feet on my DJ quilt. Toying with the idea of doing this one. I like the fact that the many pieces per block make it easier to bring more colors into the quilt — almost like creating a new fabric print, if you know what I mean.

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