To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
2020 is over. That’s as good of a lede as you’re going to get on here this year.
Two years after stopping updates here, I’m still waffling on what to do with the site. I was ready to start blogging a bit more, but then 2020 happened. Life has changed so much this year, even separate from how it has changed for all of us. Among it all, we moved to Atlanta from Vermont permanently (or at least not intentionally temporarily, like last time). We’re going to have a tiny human to raise starting early next year. So we’ll see how 2021 goes.
But, as with last year, I’m dropping in to make a 2020 wrap up post to remind myself in the future that making things helped with so much this year as stress relief.
I was surprised in late October when I sat down to catch up on History Quilt blocks and realized I’d made five quilts this year, including finishing the last few older (7+ years!) works in progress that I had sitting around.
Early in the year—especially once I started working from home in March—I was so motivated to sew clothing. That tanked in mid-May for a while (I thought it was pandemic fatigue + new job + move planning, but turns out it was also 1st trimester hormones), but even with a few months’ break it all added up to quite a few new items of clothing.
Buffalo Plaid Circle Skirt (self-drafted, and matching Purl Soho tie for Carl)
Peppermint/In the Folds Cardigan
Merino Tank hacked from Cashmerette Concord
Helen’s Closet Avery leggings with pockets (wearable muslin)
Megan Nielsen Virginia black bamboo fleece leggings
Seamwork Veronica linen jersey swim coverup
Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit
Black fleece House Morrighan Poppy Bralette
Merino scraps House Morrighan Poppy Bralette (not pictured)
Heavily modified Named Asaka Robe from bamboo jersey
With the exception of the swimsuit and the circle skirt for a gala in early Feb, it was all very loungy/comfy stuff and got so much wear this year.
Other Sewing Projects
When I wasn’t sewing clothing early in the year, I was making zip pouches out of sentimental things and odd scraps in an effort to downsize my stash before we downsized housing. I ended up making 20 over the course of the year.
And masks. Although very few in the scheme of things because that was the opposite of stress relief for me.
And then a few baby items toward the end of the year.
Finished in 2020:
Witch’s Bubble Brew
Farmer’s wife / EPP Crosses – 16 blocks became a small quilt, rest were destashed
C+S Charm Quilt
Progress in 2020:
Meta history quilt – blocks made for recent quilt projects
Pixelated Churn Dash – my new plan is to unpick the hour or two of straight line quilting I’ve done and send this queen bed-sized one out to a longarm quilter
Self-portrait of an American Woman
Quilt top from leftovers of Reproduction Sky #2
Since life is going to change drastically for me in late January, my sole goal in 2021 for sewing is to make sure I carve out time for it more selfishly (but also more sustainably) than I ever have before, because it is my outlet for so much stress relief and creativity.
When we started thinking seriously about moving here to Georgia in late 2019 (with the idea of downsizing to a 700-800sq.ft. city apartment/condo as part of it), I started looking at my remaining unfinished projects and crafting inventory and slimmed it all down considerably. While I still have a stash of fabric (both quilting and a few cuts for garments), I’ve stopped earmarking it for specific future plans right now. Other than the quilt projects mentioned in the backlog (which have their binding and backings completed too), the only project I have supplies set aside for is a pair of jeans. I’d like to actually tackle that in the second half of 2021—I planned to do so this year, but maternity body happened. Otherwise I’ll see where my whims take me.
Catch me on Instagram @raevenfea to see what I make in 2021!
I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to jump back into blogging again for 2020. I’ve been enjoying the shorter form of Instagram for sharing, so I may find a way to publish cross-platform. But, I wanted to drop in and add a 2019 wrap up here as much (or more) for myself than anyone else.
I sewed a lot this year, but very little of it was quilting. I only completed two quilts.
The only reason I managed to finish You Are Welcome was because I entered it in VQF. So, it hung there, winning a yellow ribbon. Human and a small challenge project I made this year (Tiger Splash) have both been hanging since September in a public space here in Burlington along with other quilts made by fellow guildmates. (If you’re in the area, they’re on the second floor of the Innovation Center on Lakeside Ave for the foreseeable future.)
Samplers, Meetups, Exchanges
I tried keeping up with my guild’s block of the month this year and made it to month 10. I decided to call it quits at that point, and finished the quilt top at our fall retreat (on a smaller scale) and quilted it in late November.
This is a category I haven’t included for a few years, but it’s back with a vengeance. After receiving a serger for Christmas 2018, I dove in to playing with both knits and woven clothing.
Flannel PJ Pants (for Carl, a Simplicity pattern that I don’t recall the number)
Black Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings
Silver Foiled Cake Tiramisu
Cashmerette Concord Tee
Teal Merino Colette Myrtle Dress
Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings Undershorts
Maxi Colette Myrtle Dress
Black Velvet Cashmerette Upton Bridesmaid Dress
Plus, a few shirt refashions and repairs. I started the year with a #makeNine2019 grid that mixed clothing and quilting, mostly focused on #remakeNine2019 where I tried replacing things I already owned rather than adding new things to the mix. I managed to finish six of the nine.
I have a few projects (and their supplies) lined up for 2020 as well (like the Cashmerette Ames Jeans I didn’t make), so stay tuned (on Insta, at least) as I attempt balance my minimalist wardrobe with a desire to make all the (sartorial) things.
Other Sewing Projects
In addition to the clothing projects, I sewed a variety of small things. While dealing with a lot of migraines and anxiety in the first half of the year, I sewed zip pouches as a way to keep myself in the practice of making even when I didn’t feel into it (or much else). Between those, gifts, samples for a workshop I taught, and the seven that I made for my sister’s bachelorette weekend, I made a total of 22 zip pouches and two laptop cases (which are basically tall skinny OWPs).
Other projects included a one hour basket, a Purl Soho adjustable apron, coasters, bunting, a Portsmith tote, and a variety of other small things.
Perhaps in the future I should add clothing to this as well (I’ve had a knit cardigan cut out since May, waiting to be serged together), but for now I’ll leave it with the quilt projects I usually keep here.
Progress in 2019:
Meta history quilt – blocks made for recent quilt projects
Witches Bubble Brew – quilt top completed, partially quilted
Farmer’s wife / EPP Crosses – I destashed almost all of the fabric for this, so I’ll be figuring something out for what is left soon.
Self-portrait of an American Woman – unsure of whether I’ll finish this. I’ve only made a tiny block or two.
Pixelated Churn Dash – basted, partially quilted
C+S Charm Quilt – quilt top complete
none! (a first!)
I spent a fair amount of time in 2019 sorting through my stuff and decluttering. While I don’t want to limit myself down to the bare sewing supplies I had in Atlanta in 2018, I also felt like I tend to expand to my surroundings like a koi. I got rid of a lot of supplies for crafts I know I won’t work on (knitting, crocheting, needlepoint). Crafting is a space that I’m very bad about keeping things just in case, but being honest with myself, there are a lot of things that I know I’m never going to choose to do over other crafts or projects. So, I’m trying to be much more intentional about what comes in, what stays, and remember that I have the resources to go out and buy something if I do get rid of it and find I need it again later. Plus, it helps me focus on finishing the projects I have in progress rather than jumping to the next new shiny thing. In 2020, I want to focus on sewing through some of the projects I have supplies for before moving on to new things.
Catch me on Instagram @raevenfea to see the progress!
As I sat down to write this year’s review post, I realized that I was behind on posting by multiple quilts and other projects yet again. And worse, it wasn’t due to a lack of time like last year, but general lack of motivation.
So, after spending a couple of weeks thinking about it, I’ve decided that I’m going to stop blogging in 2019. For now, this site will stay up. Thank you to those of you who have stuck around all these years.
Catch me on Instagram, where I’m slightly better about posting finished projects and in progress shots. My sewjo was back in 2018 despite all of the moving, and I’m looking forward to many new techniques and projects in 2019. @raevenfea
That said, here’s 2018 in review.
I didn’t finish nearly as many quilts this year as I have in the past, and most of them were rather small quilts. But, I did manage to knock off one old work in progress and a second that was not as old, but I was just as pleased about clearing out.
It was the year of small quilts. All but Volute (Bang!) were 42″ square or smaller. It almost motivates me to start the process of quilting my giant pixelated churn dash again (queen bed-sized, 1/2″ lines).
Give a Flock finished up the Block of the Month my guild kicked off in mid-2017. I signed up for our 2018-19 BOM as well, and three months in, I’m still caught up.
Welcome was started after I learned about the Welcome Blanket Project. I gifted it to the project after finishing it.
Other Sewing Projects
While I was living in Atlanta, I took advantage of the wide variety of classes I could access and different materials I could buy in-person. As a result, I did more non-quilt sewing than usual. That included knit leggings, a sweater/sweatshirt, a waxed-canvas bag, and espadrille shoes. That’s in addition to a variety of zip pouches, and random other small projects; none of these made the blog.
Aside from the two quilts I finished from this backlog (Volute, formerly Organic Spins; VTMQG 2017-18 BOM), I didn’t make much progress on it. I’m actively working on the one new quilt I started but didn’t manage to finish in 2018.
Progress in 2018:
Meta history quilt
Farmer’s wife / EPP Crosses
Witches Bubble Brew
Self-portrait of an American Woman
Pixelated Churn Dash
C+S Charm Quilt
One thing that was reinforced by my time in Atlanta is that I love sewing with people and learning new things. Sure, I can puzzle pretty much any technique out, but I enjoy learning them in person, with others. Rather than focusing goals on how many projects I might complete in 2019, I want to focus on learning things with people—taking classes, going to sew-ins, etc. I think there may be more garment sewing in my future as well, after reigniting that passion and receiving a serger for xmas.
I’m out of order on updating about finishes this year, but wanted to deliver this quilt before publishing. Then, of course, another month or two flew by before I remembered to post. I finished this about a week before Welcome, having completed the top in May, then finally quilting it once I’d moved to GA.
I’ve admired all of the Swoon quilts I’ve seen around the ‘net for some time, but it was never a pattern I wanted to make for myself. However, a blown up Swoon star seemed just the thing for my friend’s newborn daughter.
I wanted to use fabrics from stash—mostly so that I could get started right away when motivation came back after a few months of no sewing. A fat quarter bundle of Hello Bear for Art Gallery Fabrics seemed perfect for a sweet baby girl named Wilder. Once I planned out the color placement, I realized I didn’t have quite enough dark fabric to carry off the design, so I added in a chambray to round it out.
I wasn’t a fan of how the color layout worked if I used a single light print in blocks, so I pieced the background fabrics into four patches. However, I made the choice to not have show-perfect half-square triangles—I didn’t have enough of the darks and mediums to pull it off. Turning four patch blocks into HSTs means that the center point gets lost in the HST seam, and the pieces don’t match up perfectly when set side-by-side. To make that look a little more intentional, the outer background blocks use slightly different sized pieces in the four patches so seams don’t match up everywhere (accomplished by making them a bit oversized, then cutting chunks off one side or the other).
The back is pieced from chambray, a fat quarter from the stack that was too cute to chop up, and with scrap pieces and spare blocks left after constructing the front. There’s a low-loft cotton batting in between (a scrap, so I’m not positive about brand). Because I was quilting on my new travel machine, I had to stick with quilting motifs I could do with a walking foot. I kept it somewhat simple, choosing what to do as I got to each new section. It’s mostly straight lines and slight curves going point-to-point.
As with the Welcome quilt, I had a little puckering due to a new basting setup and new machine. But, it washed up nicely and I’m sure Miss Wilder won’t care too much if her siblings and their attachments to quilts are any indication.
A few years ago, two sewing kit bag patterns were making the rounds online—the Bionic Gear Bag and the Sew Together Bag. While I wanted to make one (either one), I never managed to prioritize it amongst other projects. Events this year have sparked that desire again, and when I found myself tossing all of my tools and notions into a cardboard box to tote down to GA, making one quickly jumped toward the top of my project list.
First, a confession: I hate buying patterns for quilts and bags. If I’m going to pay for something, I want to learn something, and so many patterns don’t introduce any new ideas or skills. In other words, I can do addition and geometry; teach me the out-of-the-box, or simpler, or more couture, or more resilient way of making the thing. If not for the fact that I’ve never made a bag with interior divider pocket/zips like this, I would never have used this pattern. It was so chatty, unpolished, poorly photographed, and needlessly long. So, caveat emptor if, like me, you’re a bit behind the bandwagon on this.
I chose the Bionic Gear Bag over the other for two reasons. First, I was able to see the product in person; three fellow guild members brought theirs to our spring retreat. Second, I like that the front becomes a tray when open, which gave me a place to modify the pattern with d-rings to hook a thread catcher bag onto (another long-term non-prioritized want). I don’t have any criticisms of the final product the pattern produces, just the pattern itself.
I did very little in the way of modifications. I chose to leave off the snaps and not make the fabric dish (another 36 pages of instructions!). I added a needle minder to the front pocket (made from a couple of batting scraps and fabric). And I added the aforementioned d-rings to the binding that becomes the front of the tray, so that I can attach a small Open Wide Pouch (modified with swivel hooks attached and a cutting error that makes it deeper than it should be) that acts as a thread/scrap catcher.
I also went pretty basic with fabric on this; there is no fussy cutting, printed patterns, or decoration to be found. All of the fabrics are Essex Linen Blends, mostly yarn dyed. The interior is made of shades of gray; the zippered pouch interiors are the only pops of (solid) color. I did order a slightly fancy metal zipper for the exterior with an interesting zipper pull. I love the overall minimalism of the bag and am looking forward to making a machine cover in the same fabrics.
I can’t wait to travel with this. I’m signed up for a couple of classes locally and am heading back to VT for a few days later this month, conveniently at the same time as one of my guilds’ fall retreats, so I have ample occasions to use it. And it certainly fits a ton of stuff. Almost everything I stuffed into this box when traveling to GA fit into the bag (or, in the case of zippers, became part of the bag)!
At each of the VTMQG’s retreats, we have optional “Sip and Stitch” projects in the evenings. They’re meant to be quick-ish projects that people can do as a break from what they brought to the retreat, preferably while chatting and sipping on their beverage of choice. They often involve learning how to use a new notion or component that many haven’t seen before. Last spring, one of the projects was making vinyl flex-frame pouches, an experience new to most of us.
I purchased a few extra flex frames at the retreat, so after finishing a Bionic Gear Bag, I decided to make more pouches that match the bag, as they’re the perfect size to slip into the bag for even more organized storage. Due to having a limited amount of vinyl on hand, I decided to construct these new ones with only one vinyl side. While I could have used the same instructions as before, I thought I’d try something new and cut the back flex frame channel as one with the back fabric piece. In case you’re interested in the same, here’s how I modified Bonjour Quilt’s tutorial.
* if you want to make your pouches deeper, cut your vinyl longer than 4″ and add the same amount of extra length to the 5.75×6″ fabric piece.
Tip for sewing with vinyl: sew with the vinyl side facing up (have the fabric touching your machine); use a teflon foot if you have one, or a walking foot. If things are getting sticky, use foundation paper or copy paper over the vinyl to keep your foot from sticking. You may also want to increase your stitch length slightly to keep from perforating the vinyl too much.
First, you’ll need to make two cuts in your back piece in order to prep it for a flex frame channel. Measure 2.25″ down from the top and mark a line all the way across on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, measure in 1/2″ from each side and place a dot on the line. Cut from the edge in to each dot—this will give you two little flaps to fold in on either side.
Fold each short flap in by 1/4″ and press. Fold down the top of your piece by 1/4″ and press. Then, fold the flap sides in another 1/4″ and topstitch on each side to hold, backstitching on either end for security.
Prep your front channel piece by folding and pressing the short ends in by 1/4″, doing the same for one long end, then folding and pressing the short ends in one more time. Topstitch the short ends. Sew the unfolded long edge to your vinyl with a 1/4” seam allowance, then fold over to the right side and topstitch the other long end down just below the seam. The Bonjour Quilt tutorial shows a different method that is arguably stronger due to sewing only a single line of stitching through the vinyl, but I’m not too worried about mine, and I prefer the finish.
Using a hera maker, mark a stitching line down each side of the pouch where the channel pieces end. Sew down the sides and across the bottom (1/4″ seam allowance), backstitching to secure your stitches at the top side of the pouch.
Trim the seam allowance down to 1/4″ on all sides of the pouch body, then finish the edges by sewing an overcast stitch or zigzag within the seam allowance to keep your fabric from raveling. You could also use pinking shears instead (alas, mine are in VT).
Turn your pouch right-side out, and finger press the edges.
Insert your flex-frame hardware into the channels, add the closing pin, and admire your work!
For more detailed instructions with photos for the later steps, check out the tutorial from Bonjour Quilts.
When I dropped off my welcome blanket donation at MODA, I stopped in to see the current exhibit, “Making Change: The Art and Craft of Activism”. I’d heard about the exhibit in a post by Chawne Kimber, as her quilt “The One for Eric G” is in the show—in fact, it’s one of the first artworks you see. It was great to see her work up close (those incredibly consistent hand stitches! that precision piecing! the subtle movement and inclusion of color that just isn’t apparent in an online photo of the full quilt!), but my attention was grabbed by two other quilts in the show, and I kept walking back to them to study in depth.
From afar, the two quilts look incredibly different, but it was their commonalities that captured my attention, and have kept my mind coming back to them even now, a week later. The main commonality between the two is their use of antique quilts as a base for appliqué. And while they both had a message about war, destruction, and death, it wasn’t their political message that caused a visceral reaction for me. That reaction was caused by the potential destruction to the original quilts.
First was “Treaty With the Cherokee 1794” by Gina Adams, which is double-sided. I saw the front of the piece first, which is the back of the original quilt, so it wasn’t immediately obvious what the base medium was. In this artwork, the artist has appliquéd the words of a treaty onto an Irish Chain quilt with a solid backing fabric. On the spectrum of destroying the original quilt, this one is somewhat minimal. I don’t know whether Adams used an adhesive on her letters, but in theory, the stitching and appliqué pieces could be removed and the quilt would be returned to its unaltered format. If anything, the stitching might even have stabilized the quilt, as you can see a few places where there are holes through all the layers. My mind plays more with the “what ifs” on this on. What if Adams had used a quilt that was actually contemporary to the treaty instead of one that likely dates to the 1860s at the earliest (there are far fewer extant quilts from the 18th century)? What if she had used a quilt that was a less common pattern than an Irish Chain, used a pattern without as much representation in various antique collections? Would those cause more of a reaction on my part, making me mourn the loss of the original quilt? On the flip side, I think the piece would be even more impactful if Adams had used a quilt that was more befitting the style and tastes of 18th century than a design so timeless that it could have been made any time from the early-mid 19th century to now. What if she was able to use something more closely resembling a blanket that could have been traded between the parties involved in the treaty negotiations?
So I think that’s the core of it—I don’t mourn the loss of an antique quilt, in this case, but the opportunities left unaddressed.
“Dresden” by Maggy Rozycki Hiltner is my favorite piece in the exhibit from a graphic standpoint. But, it’s also the one that leaves me most torn based on the execution. The artist took a gifted Dresden Plate quilt (likely circa 1920-30), overdyed it with black dye, then appliquéd skeletal figures over the top. From afar, you don’t see the textures of the underlying dresden plate blocks. It’s only once you are close that you begin to see the variations in blacks as piecing, coupled with wear and tear on the antique quilt. I wondered if the woman who gifted Hiltner with the quilt knew its eventual fate, and if not, would she have done so with that knowledge? There’s no going back from the overdying process—the quilt as it once was can never again exist.
In contrast, I saw some of Kara Walker’s lithographs a few weeks ago at the High Museum of Art. Her works are also palimpsest-type pieces: reproduction lithographs from the American Civil War era coupled with cut paper silhouettes simultaneously enhancing, obscuring, and contextualizing a broader story to the original work. These works didn’t invoke the same visceral reaction as the two quilts, especially “Dresden”. Although it wasn’t 100% clear to me at the time, the lithographs are reproductions, not originals (although I made assumptions based on lack of discoloring and print quality). Perhaps it’s that paper prints are easily reproducible—even if you destroy one, there are surely other copies floating around. Perhaps it’s my lack of personal connection to the craft. Perhaps it was my subconscious making the call that the lithographs were clearly reproductions before my research verified it.
Collectors and curators can’t save every piece of art or craft. Part of collecting is making decisions on what to purge from a collection if you’ve procured a similar piece that is a better representation of the collection’s aim. In that mindset, not every antique quilt is worth saving, and given the prolific creation of both Irish Chain and Dresden Plate quilts, it’s unlikely that either of these originals was collection-worthy as is. Yet, could the same message have been achieved with a reproduction created specifically for the project, like with Walker’s lithographs?
In the end, this is why quilts are art. We ask these questions. We search for meaning. We may read more meaning into a piece than the artist intended. And to answer my own question, maybe it’s okay that both of these pieces used antique quilts. In “Treaty,” an otherwise non-special quilt is elevated in a way that neither fully obscures the original workmanship, and potentially preserves the stability of it. In “Dresden,” the dye obscures the one attribute of the quilt that might have set it apart from others—the printed fabric—but that destruction in itself echoes the destruction of countless other quilts buried by the rubble of Dresden’s bombing.
And maybe you’ll answer that question differently, or have never asked it at all.
In some ways, it feels like I blinked and it’s suddenly August. In others, I’m not sure how so much has managed to be crammed into the eight months since I last posted. Then again, very little of it has been sewing-related. In fact, I spent most of the late winter and early spring without touching any sewing projects.
Part of all of the happenings was a temporary move to Atlanta, GA through the end of 2018. So, it seemed fitting that while exploring and learning about my momentary home, I stumbled upon the Welcome Blanket project. There are plenty of jokes that can be made about the vastly different cultures of Vermont and Georgia, but that’s all privilege talking. The challenges and cultural change for future new Americans are far more vast, and providing comfort with quilts is one of my all time favorite ways to give back to the community.
I’d already been mentally playing with the idea of quilts and alphabets and something other than the techniques I’ve used in previous words-on-quilts projects. This quilt evolved from some sketching I did, inspired loosely by a very triangular alphabet graphic somewhere on the web (I can’t find the source). When translating it into fabric, my M/W unit didn’t come out quite as hoped—I should have shifted the diagonal piece to sit along the center bias line rather than spanning it. But, I love the graphic look that doesn’t immediately scream words at you.
I pulled the fabric from my very minimal stash that traveled with me from VT. I was going for something modern and bright, although the darker gray background tones things down quite a bit. The fabrics are Kona Highlighter, Michael Miller Lime, Michael Miller Coral, and Paintbrush Studio Pewter. The blocks all finished at 14″, resulting in a quilt that shrunk down to almost exactly the requested 40″ square after washing.
I pieced the back together with leftovers from the front, trying to use up as many of the scraps as I could. The rest went into the binding, leaving me with very little leftover from the 3.5 yards of fabric I started with. In between is Quilter’s Dream Green batting. I swung by a local store (Intown Quilters), and decided to pick up a package of the batting when I saw it there (I’ve heard a bit about it online). It’s made from recycled bottles, so is 100% polyester, but this seemed like a good size quilt to experiment with. Only after purchase did I remember that I should have bought cotton batting since I’d sized the quilt intentionally expecting around 5% shrinkage after washing. I needn’t have worried, as it shrunk as expected even with the poly batting.
The quilting is pretty basic on this, just echoing the seam lines with a dark gray Aurifil 50wt. I have a new travel machine, a Pfaff Passport 2.0, and I’m still getting a feel for it. I like the integrated dual feed pretty well, although I’m not sure it’s quite as effective as my Viking’s walking foot. I ran into tension issues a couple of times while quilting this, and did end up with some minor puckering and shifting (mostly hidden after washing). Of course, I’m also dealing with a different setup for basting, as well as a batting I hadn’t used before, so it could be that I just didn’t baste as well as usual.
I have plenty of other things to work on before the project deadline, so I doubt I’ll finish it for that, but I really hope to iterate on this design and try it in a two-color form that is closer to my sketch. I think there’s a lot more to play with when it comes to these shapes and how color interacts.
I’ve found that a common thread in my quilting journey is how it connects me with a community wherever I travel. I attended a meeting of the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild, which turned into lunch and an outing at MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta), the collection point for Welcome Blankets. The guild had quite a few to donate. So, it all comes full circle that a quilt made to welcome someone to the US also allowed me welcome into a community of quilters here in my temporary home. Quilting: it’s not just about the fabric and making.
If you want to create your own Welcome Blanket (quilt, crochet, knit, etc), the deadline for submissions that will be included in the MODA display is August 25, 2018. They may continue taking submissions after that; check out the project website for more information.
This is the last quilt I finished in 2017. Although I didn’t make most of the blocks, I’m counting it as one of “my” quilts for record-keeping purposes, since I came up with the project, managed the block collection, and put it all together. I also quilted it and bound it by hand (the first in a long time). Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all the work my guild members put into the blocks—I’m so thankful for what they gave me to work with!
My local MQG is continuing to grow and evolve, and this year we had our first changeover in presidents. We wanted to honor our founding president, and decided to make—what else?—a quilt.
We asked members to provide a signature block of their choosing in one of three block sizes. Additional requests were to use a light gray background and only solid fabrics. Beyond that, they were welcome to do any style of block they wanted.
I volunteered to head up the project, including the task of piecing everything together. One member spied some modern letter blocks on a Pinterest board curated by the recipient and chose to make those up instead of a single block. Inspired by them and one block that came in with a darker background than all the others, I ended up making two ‘tops’ for a double-sided quilt. The Thank You side has a few other blocks submitted by members that fit especially well on that side, and the other collects the remaining blocks.
The result was a quilt that channels both the guild and our president emeritus. We gifted her the quilt at our December meeting. I never did take any good photos, esp. since I finished hand-sewing the binding about 10 hours before our meeting (and slept most of the rest).
Adherence to the block rules was mixed, but it all worked out in the end. If I were to run a similar collection in the future, I would change the requests based on what I learned. Here are a few guidelines that worked well or that I wish I’d implemented (hindsight and all that).
Tips for block collection:
Decide how exacting you need to be. If they don’t follow the rules, will you still use the blocks or will you refuse them? Provide a disclaimer about using/not using a block, cutting blocks apart, restructuring them, etc.
Be very, very clear about block size. Give unfinished size for best results.
If it matters to you, specify an ink color to use for signing.
Be prepared to adjust your vision if you design the quilt before receiving all of the blocks.
Set a deadline and be firm. Make sure to publicize the deadline clearly.
If people donate materials to finish the quilt and you intend to return anything that is unused, keep track of who sends what. Or, consider passing on the rest to the quilt recipient if she is also a quilter.
Provide a visual guide when specifying something like “light gray” or “channel Jane’s style”.
Somehow, almost 50 members were able to keep this completely secret from the recipient, and she was completely surprised when we presented it at our December meeting. I call that a success!
I finished this in late May 2017, but just got around to taking all the photos!
In the fall of 2016, I shared progress on a long term project—a meta quilt, if you will—containing a block for each quilt I’ve finished. At the time, I still had a few blocks to make for older quilts, and have finished another four quilts in the months since.
At my guild’s spring retreat in May, I took along scraps I’d pulled out for a few more blocks, and came home with the energy to finish up the final four. That energy extended to putting rows together (quilt-as-you-go style), then finishing the edges with a facing. It ran out right around the time I needed to take photos and blog about it, as seems the norm of late.
Each quilt has a nine patch dedicated to it. Each block has at least one square of Cloud9 Cirrus Ash as a cornerstone, and as many 2″ finished squares of the original fabric as I could scrounge up. Some quilts only had a few fabrics in them, and some I only had a few fabric scraps leftover, so extra space is filled in with the grey solid. I had no scraps for a few quilts, so those are represented by a solid block of the right color (or, in one case, an approximation of a logo for my alma mater).
Each block is rotated 90° along the row, which means my fussy cutting is sideways or upside down, but that’s okay. I found additional scraps after I’d already finished a few blocks and set them into the quilt, but decided to leave them be. They still capture the spirit of the quilts.
I put the rows together in a quilt-as-you-go method, so there’s no true quilting, except for a stitch in the ditch 2″ in from the edge that secured the facing to the back.
Here it is, row-by-row, with links to posts about each quilt. All told, there are 48 blocks representing that many quilts from my very first in 2010 to a few baby quilts finished in early 2017.
I completed my 49th quilt at the same retreat and completed another three throughout the rest of 2017, so there’s no slowing down yet! Maybe in another seven years or so, I’ll have another 48 blocks to finish a second panel. My goal is to keep making panels, then sew the panels together to form an ever-larger quilt.
I may also eventually embroider years in the corner gray patch of the first quilt of the year, and add more info to a label on the back side. For now, I think this is going to hang in my studio if I can ever clean it up enough to have space for it.