I have reached a milestone this morning: I have finished all 169 of the center blocks!!
I should add one note: I skipped two of the hardest applique blocks and substituted in two paper pieced blocks. Applique is not my favorite, and attempting Dee Dee's delight (D-8) or Cheiko's Calla Lily (J-10: 16 little melons!) I know would lead to extreme frustration and meltdown.
Here is my last block:
This is K-3 and I deliberately left it to last. It's fussy but the paper piecing is not too difficult. I did not want to end my center blocks on a note of frustration.
There are several approaches to completing the center blocks, each of which has its merits. I started with the easy pieced or paper pieced blocks, slowly adding in the blocks with easier applique (like two or so larger melons). This gets one's numbers up, and there is a quick sense of accomplishment. I then followed along with the Block of the Month as posted on the Dear Jane list. This helped me keep going. I however skipped some really difficult blocks, and those were left to the end. Were my skills better? Yes, but those last blocks were really tough. I'll be sharing those on Tuesdays, in the next few weeks.
There also is merit in starting at A-1 and continuing on row by row. Or following the Block of the Month assignments. Then the hard blocks are not all left at the end. And you quickly pick up new skills.
And of course, what each person considers 'hard' is different. For me it is applique of melons, or reverse applique of anything. My fingers fumble so. But for others it might be handling really tiny pieces, or complex paper piecing, where one is joining different sections together. And then there are Y-seams, or inset corners as you may know them. All can be challenges. I am a proud member of the "Add a line" club, where I modify the pattern (by adding a seam line or two or three) to get rid of Y-seams and have more straight seams - even if it means more smaller pieces, and more steps. I do this especially with the triangles - to avoid applique of diamond shapes.
Remember, this is your quilt - use the fabrics you want to use, and approach the blocks the best way you know how. There is more than one way to sew each block. Sometimes three or more. One resource that has proved invaluable to me for the harder blocks has been Anina's blog, That Quilt. Do check it out.