Archives for posts with tag: quilt blocks

Recently two friends of mine came to the conclusion that it is time to sell their home of over a decade. Many times I have been on the receiving end of their generous hospitality, so I wanted to make a gift for each to reflect all the love and memories of that home.


I started with sketches of the house itself.


I thought of the nonhuman residents as well.


Then it was just a matter of raw-edged appliqué, a bit of decorative stitching, turning under the blocks’ edges, and fitting them to embroidery hoop “frames”.

Sometimes I love a gift more in the making than the person receiving, but I could tell this time that wasn’t the case. Hoping that as time goes by, these little mementos will bring back sweet memories!

Recently Instagram made a change that allows users to toggle between accounts. Thus I finally created an account exclusively for my makings – WalkingWithFeathers!

  
Timing was perfect, too, as QuiltCon just occurred in Pasadena, California, this past weekend. Rather than wallow in envy over those able to attend, Julie over at the Intrepid Thread organized a series of events, complete with “classes”, giveaways, and other “events”! I had so much fun participating, encountering other quilters, and surprisingly even finding the time sew along with the tutorials!

   
   
I really had fun putting these little 6-inch blocks together! One of them was supposed to be paper-pieced, but without a printer, I almost didn’t make the attempt. Now I am glad I did – all that math and geometry meant I have the full Roy G. Biv! I can’t wait to put them together into a mini quilt!

  
Speaking of mini, I also followed a QuiltNon tutorial for this adorable little “pixie basket“! I used fabrics from CraftSouth as they were represented at QuiltCon, and the twill tape I saved from my purchase made sweet little handles. It is the perfect size to collect scraps-for-sorting!

Thanks again, Julie, for organizing such a fun weekend, and thanks to everyone who donated time and expertise into crafting the tutorials!

My priorities, they have been rearranging! I am purposefully minimizing time spent blogging because I’d rather be living this new married life. But I do want to report a few bits of sewing (I have more going, but that’s for Christmas).

This weekend, I’d had enough of sending my husband to work with his lunch in a plastic grocery bag. I scanned the interwebs and decided to modify this Purl Bee pattern.

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Husband was happily surprised and delighted. He loves what I make in general and encourages me to sew as much as I can, recognizing how important it is for me to create.

I also worked on something just for me this weekend:

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I had two charm packs of “Quilt Blocks”, the line of fabric Ellen Luckett Baker designed for Moda. I added a little black corner to each and pieced them together, then put them away for a long time. I held onto them through my pre-international-moving fabric purge, and as I was looking for my sewing mojo after the wedding, I pulled them back out. Today I finished the hand stitching on the binding. This is my soaking quilt, something to drape over me when I lie down to spend time with God, usually right after work, letting the day slide off me into a restful peace.

There are a lot of challenges to this marriage – emotional, physical, financial, spiritual – but the best constant is Father God. He who created me made me to be creative like Him, so when I sew (or paint or cook or knit or craft), I am most like Him. If I’m not very frequently blogging, that’s where I am – with my new husband and with my Forever-Loving Father. Joy and peace to you until I write again!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but now we are one month into marriage, it seems appropriate. This is a sewing post, I’m happy to say, though art reflects life, so there is a metaphor to explain first.

You know, I remember going to weddings as a twelve-year-old and my mother pointing out the programs, guest book, accoutrements, drawing my attention to the details so I could start getting ideas for my wedding. Seventeen years later, I didn’t have an elaborate plan for a dream wedding, but I had done plenty of work designing a dream man and a dream marriage.

First was the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. That hit Evangelical youth groups while I was a teen, newly rededicated to Christ, around the time I trashed all my faerie and renaissance festival paraphernalia, as well as my secular CDs. I took my powerful adolescent emotions and threw them head first into my religion. I wanted to be the most extreme Jesus person I knew. That meant embracing radical purity and archaic courtship practices. I was told by a crush that I was “a living testimony to the book” (though I never read it) – but that crush was not interested in courting me.

So I made a list instead! In fact, I made many “husband lists”. And I went to college, becoming involved in the most sold-out-for-Jesus campus ministry around. It was awesome! Surely I would find my mate! But then that one guy actually kissed me right after I said I only wanted to kiss my husband. I cried with the girls in my Bible study when we broke up. He really loved Jesus! I didn’t understand.

I changed my list. I heard more sermons on marriage and dating and purity. And I met someone else, someone who shared all my ideals, including the hyper-religious identity I’d adopted. Then this guy informed me that God told him I was his wife. My eager, hurting heart believed him, and I accepted his proposal, only to come to my senses three months before the wedding.

More hurt and confusion. This guy matched my criteria, but after that experience, I needed more items on my list! I could not risk repeating mistakes. I refused to gamble my heart again.

But I was needy, and I was smart. Over the next few years, more men came into my path. I adapted to become a version of what I thought they wanted. I made it seem like they pursued me, though all the while, I called the shots. Some followed Jesus, others did not. Some adhered to the rigorous rules I trusted, and when those relationships ended, my heart felt pulverized – all the worse because these men had no excuse for their bad behavior! And my list grew. And my expectations grew. After all, if God was taking this long to bring me my husband, he must be extraordinary! He must be as close to perfect as a man can get!

It looks ridiculous in print. I mean, how could I not have known I was manipulating men to get my needs met? Of course, at the time, I thought manipulation had to be sexual. I had impenetrable walls of self-righteous rule-following that supported my beliefs. I was blind to the state of my heart, completely unaware of how I used spirituality and emotion to spin scenarios so I got what I wanted – a temporary “love fix”.

But then something began to happen. I started to meet men who were everything I was looking for. I could check item after item off the list – strong relationship with God, educated, well-mannered, fond of dancing, cat-lover, financially secure, kind, passionate, single (a surprisingly rare combination, I found!) And as I got to know these men with joy and hope and expectation – because surely God wasn’t taunting me, surely He wasn’t dangling the proverbial carrot – something inevitably went wrong. Some kind of personality disconnect became apparent, some huge flaw manifested, and my hopes shattered in disgust.

Throughout this process, I did all I could to keep my heart open to God. But it was a complicated relationship because as an omniscient Creator, He ought to know how I felt, what I desired, and how I was sacrificing to follow Him. All my disappointment in men really came back to disappointment in God. I had come to believe that if I trusted God, I would never be lonely again. I would be spared from pain and heartache. And yet this is what I knew as normal, time after time. I didn’t know who to blame – was my faith too weak? Had my husband stepped outside of “God’s perfect will” and married someone else according to “God’s permissive will”? Or was God not really interested in fulfilling my heart’s cries after all? Maybe He was not as good as people told me. Maybe He was nice to others, but I was uniquely and helplessly flawed. He could take care of the weak, but I was strong. I could earn His best because I knew better.

And other such drivel.

So I turned my energies to cultivating faith in a fairy tale instead. I lost confidence in lists, and I threw myself into creating items for a hope chest. I took up patchwork quilting, enamored with the idea of blocks named after qualities I hoped to have in my future marriage one day. I worked on blocks like “Steps to the Altar” and “Young Gentleman’s Fancy” and “Tree of Life”, intending to make a glorious quilt depicting my domestic dreams.

I found those blocks recently as Husband and I unpacked our apartment. Truth be told, they were sort of sad. Colors I initially loved turned garish and awkward. More experience with quilting revealed my ignorance in using poor-quality fabrics. And construction was frightful! Maybe I could make them up into a wall hanging? I refused to put them into a quilt. I ought not to get rid of them, right? So much work, such a depiction of who I had been before I met my husband! (Not that meeting my husband suddenly changed me, but it is an easy place to put a marker on my timeline.)

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I tried to get inspired to work on something else, but I kept coming back to these blocks. Finally I made a decision.

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Destroyed! I took a critical eye to each block, harvested good pieces of fabric for my scrap bin, and trashed the rest. And these blocks were not the only ones. Each abandoned unfinished project got the same treatment. My scrap bin revived with new bits of favorite fabrics!

And I made cushion covers for our sofa’s toss pillows.

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Here is the metaphor: I have put a lot of effort and study into learning what makes the best marriage, but along the way, I’ve mixed a lot of poor quality fabric in the lot. I have to say, there seems to be a lot of wasted effort. My husband does not meet the criteria on my list. He is not what I was told to “hold out for”. He has ideas and opinions and ways of doing things that are unlike mine. He went through the same ministry school as me, but to my horror, he does not agree with every idea they teach. (Lord, that upset my apple cart!) There was a moment of panic, my mind reeling with the thought, “What have I gotten myself into?!?”

And then I’d look at those crazy pillows. Scraps and bits and chaos, wild and untamed, beautiful because of the mess. We sort, we piece, we pick apart, and we let go.

I let go.

I let go of my right to be defined as a hardcore God-chaser, rather than simply His daughter. I let go of my former last name. I let go of my expectation that it is Husband’s responsibility to intuit my needs. I let go of having the covers all to myself. I let go of my ideas of the roles of the wife and husband. I let go of my preference for doing things my way. I let go of control – in so many situations – and I piece trust instead.

It has been a month of sorting and choosing and saving and trashing. Moment by moment, gently or rushing all together. Not all sound teaching is universal. The best-intended rules can still hurt more than they help. And no rule – other than the Law of Love – actually draws reality and life into any relationship. (Seam ripper, scissors, scrap bin.) We have a long way to go. No marriage is without its baggage. But it is a worthwhile journey, and I am so happy to be on it. Laugh and cry and dance and learn and grow, together this time, and on down through the ages to come.

The other night, as it begins to turn cooler, Husband requested a larger blanket for the bed. (Y’all, I got a good one!) Is there anything sweeter to a quilter’s ears? Immediately I thought of my 100 City Sampler blocks. As I made calculations, however, I realized another row would be just right. Which meant:

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These are my favorite types of blocks. They are spontaneous and bold and free. They are the best of what I love, and they reflect what I want to bring to my marriage: life, effort, kindness, and freedom.

If this is the first month, I hardly dare imagine the rest of our lives! We have such a brilliant future ahead of us, and we are excited to launch into it – seam ripper at the ready! Here’s to the future! It is sure to be bright.

Well, I’m done! I’ve completed the last of my Tula Pink City Sampler blocks!

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It wasn’t until I was arranging these photo grids that I realized one of my blocks was assembled upside-down! Typically the imperfections don’t bother me (given a choice between “done” and “accurate”, I’ll choose “done”!) This one was enough for me to redo.

While I was at it, I redid another block. Striking as the original was, the orange was actually a thin shot cotton that I don’t expect would hold up over time.

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So glad to have these all done! I’ll figure out a layout later, but for now I’m enjoying my sense of accomplishment!

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Getting so close to the end! A sweet friend sent me some new bits of Tula Pink fabric (hello octopus!), and I’m happy to work them in.

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I’m pondering a bit of a hiatus while I work on some other pressing projects. But now I’m in the home stretch, I feel I’ve earned it! No concerns about these blocks turning into an unfinished piece. Having come so far, I’m motivated to finish and have something to show for all the toil! Now back to those pressing projects I mentioned…

My work schedule is a bit unpredictable, so while I was mostly done last week with my bi-weekly 8 Tula Pink City Sampler blocks, I only finished these Monday.

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I’m pretty lenient with what I consider a successful execution of a block (see #66 there, a bit reversed from the original in the book). But on the rare occasion, I will unpick and re-sew if my negligence means a block won’t square up properly. I did so with #65. Thankfully I’m moving into a new section of the book, and nearing completion!

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At this rate, I’ll be done with all the blocks before May is out, leaving me plenty of creative energy to direct towards the wedding!

Now I’m past the halfway point, it’s smooth sailing for me! My latest round of blocks came together nicely and offered a sweet reprieve from wedding planning.

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I am enjoying this section of blocks as it allows for showing off some favorite prints. I also love how I can use small scraps I’ve not wanted to part with. In these blocks they sing!

Wedding planning is in full swing, but I made time to finish 8 more Tula Pink City Sampler blocks!

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There are so many changes happening in my life right now that it’s nice to have the ability to continue towards a long term goal. In that spirit, I laid out all 56 of my blocks so far!

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It’s so fun seeing it come together. Oh, and I am thrilled to be done with the triangles! I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to bias-cut pieces, but I have methods of making geese and triangles that are easier for me, and Tula Pink does not use these methods. But it is more trouble to figure out measurements needed for my preferred procedures – though they end up being less wasteful as well. So altogether I’m happy I’m done with the trifecta of inefficient-inaccurate-wasteful section of the book! And I’m over halfway done, too! Yay! So many reasons to be happy!

Now back to the wedding planning grindstone 😉

Confession: I’ve been turning out 8 blocks at a time and just posting 4 each week. But enough with the formalities! I have a giant creative endeavor at hand now, so it’s time to streamline the rest of life and let the little details slip by (such as double-checking the order of the pictures!)

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If all goes to plan, I’ll have all 100 blocks done before our wedding. Sewing is stress-relieving, after all!