Monday, April 6, 2015

The One Block Wonder that wasn't!

How can you be creative if you haven't the energy to feel excited about much of anything? This was a long winter filled with too many snow days, too many sick days, and a lack of enthusiasm on my part. To welcome the spring, I had parathyroid surgery and I spent the last two weeks (my spring break from school) recovering from the surgery. With just enough energy to stare at HGTV with Katie, I was grateful for the quilting project I started months ago. Happily resting under one completed quilt, I had my new quilt stretched in a large wooden hoop on my lap with my book light, my needles, my thread, my scissors, and my vanishing purple pen all within reach.

This quilt started with a class that taught a technique for making "One Block Wonders". My local quilt shop had one on display with Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" as the fabric and I loved the look of it. The colors and brushstrokes of the painting were very recognizable, but the quilt was so much more interesting looking with a modern geometric spin to the design. I could not wait to create the same thing for myself. Of course, as luck would have it, they did not have the van Gogh fabric in stock and I spent a good hour or more trying to select another fabric for my design. Not experienced in this technique, I took the girls' advice in the shop to just go with colors I liked and not worry about the actual print. By the time you cut the triangles and arrange them in a repeat pattern within a hexagon design, you lose all definition of the original fabric design.

The class was fun, as it always is to spend a few hours with other quilters. I learned how to cut perfect repeats of fabric, bought some new, fun quilting tools, and went home with the start of my own "One Block Wonder." My fabric did not do what the Starry Night fabric did... or what the other quilters' fabrics did for that matter! My fabric choice had a lovely arrangement of small green leaves that ran through the entire pattern and this made all my blocks too similar. I did not end up with sections of dramatically different colors to arrange in a creative way.

As what usually happens with my projects, I veered off on another creative idea midstream and made another trip to the shop to spend more money. This time, I bought a cream colored fabric with a subtle leaf design. I cut triangles out of that fabric and separated my hexagons with the cream fabric. I loved the look. It was a lot more traditional than the more inventive "One Block Wonders" designs, but I am new to quilting and traditional designs still get me excited. On yet another trip, I picked out fabric for my border and backing and I happily stitched it all together.

Piecing together a quilt top is one thing, but what I admire about most quilts is the intricate design sewn into the layers of the quilt. Yes, these can be done on a machine and my quilt shop even has a long arm for machine stitching perfect little repeat designs. But after sewing the binding of my first quilt by hand, I realized that hand sewing is my favorite part of my new obsession with quilts. I want my projects to look handmade, down to the needlework of the quilted design, and this leaf quilt that did not quite become a "one block wonder" was the perfect project to experiment on.

So, with vanishing pen in hand, I drew leaf patterns on the cream triangles and hand stitched them with a neutral colored thread. I was in love with the result! As I get more courageous with my stitched designs, I will try to use contrasting colors. But this cream on cream design was perfect for me.

I added hand stitched designs to the border and around each hexagon. This quilt was a pleasure to create, a perfect project for these last two weeks of my recovery, and a perfect way to make me feel creative again.

And now Murray and I have two quilts to cuddle under!