Of Blocks, Beads and Birthdays

A few weeks ago I started a longed for quilting class. Well I thought it was a quilting class. Turns out it’s in fact a patchwork class and there’s a difference that I just hadn’t considered.

A patchwork class is almost entirely about the piecing together of the top of the quilt and while I’m happy to be learning some of the finer points of that skill, having been pretty much self taught to date, I really signed up for the class so I could learn about the quilting part because that’s the hardest part for me.

No matter. I’m getting what I can out of the class and will investigate quilting skills later on. I’ll show you what I’ve been doing for my homework. We’re sent home to work on hand piecing our blocks each week and I’m SO SLOW. It took me all of Sunday afternoon to make just one of my blocks. Considering it’s possible to machine sew a block in under half an hour, a whole afternoon is not an economical use of my time.

But the results are pleasing, if imperfect, so there’s something to be said for it. Here, see what I mean? This block is called Ohio Star. Getting those points to line up was hard but I’m moderately happy with the results.

ohio star

I love the cream and red tones I’ve chosen. Hopefully it’ll be a lovely, small quilt. This block is called Churn Dash (no idea what the name means but it’s as old as the hills, apparently).

churn cash

Such a long way to go. I think I’m going to do some of them on the machine. I just don’t have time to get more than one done by hand a week, not if I’m to knit, work, eat, sleep, live as well! OK, maybe I do, but it just seems so slow, which is odd given I’ll happily sit and knit lace for weeks or months at a time. But an afternoon spent on a quilt block seems excessive? Perhaps I need a change in attitude because really, I do like the slow, gentle pace of hand sewing. I just feel somehow like I’m cheating on my knitting.

Speaking of which, I’m blocking my Billie Holiday shawl today. Here’s a sneak peek. It’s awfully pretty. Photos coming soon, hopefully taken while we’re away this weekend.

billie holiday B&W

And finally, I can’t let a certain important birthday pass without comment. This weekend just gone, the lovely Alice turned three. THREE! She’s growing up. She’s talking non-stop, discovering the world anew every day and delighting us all. Uncle Sean bought her a pair of roller skates (he’s got roller derby fantasies I think!) and Alice loved them, even if she found she lacked the skill to go fast.

alice on skates

She stayed safe on carpet on Sunday morning for her first go at getting about. I spoke to her earlier today and she told me she thinks the skates are ‘exciting’. I bet.



21 thoughts on “Of Blocks, Beads and Birthdays

  1. I was fortunate to find a “sit and sew” class at my LQS – the teacher is the former owner of the store, and before that taught sewing at TAFE. We are allowed to bring any project we want as long as it’s related to quilting – piecing, embroidery, FMQ, whatever. I hope you find a class that better suits your needs soon.

  2. Pingback: Santa In a Patchwork Coat | doll envy

  3. Your quilt blocks are beautiful, I love the red and cream together. I actually quite like hand-sewing; theres something rhythmical and quiet about it, not so different to knitting I guess. A completely hand-stitched quilt will be a beautiful thing!

  4. Happy Birthday to Miss A! Love the look of that shawl – and Sean’s man socks from the other week are fabulous. Must favourite that pattern.

  5. Oh, I tear-ed up a bit at Alice in her “derby” gear!! So cute!

    Your Billie Holiday is indeed awfully pretty; can’t wait to see it off the blocking mat.

    And up think hand sewing and doing such a fine job is proof you *can*, so now you shouldn’t *have* to 😉

  6. I made patchwork so long ago that no-one even mentioned that it could be done with a sewing machine! I’ve chosen my words carefully. Though I made patchwork, the only ‘quilt’ I ever made (which wasn’t quilted) was cot-sized, in a very seventies combination of orange and blue. I actually like hand-sewing and, if you’re not too focused on a useful outcome, the routine of piecing patches by hand can be very pleasurable. I love the combination of red and cream in your oh-so-traditional squares.

  7. Lovely quilt blocks, Bells. I’ve signed up for a Block(s) of the Month class on Craftsy.com. She posts instructional videos each month on how to make 2 scrap-ish blocks. By the end of October we’ll have 20 blocks. In November we’ll learn to put the quilt top together and then assemble the quilt sandwich. In December we’ll learn to machine quilt it and bind it, so to have made a quilt in a year. I’ve never made a quilt and I’m loving it. The best thing is that the course is FREE and it’ll always be online for me to use if I want to make another or defer making until a more convenient time. You should check it out.

    Mention of the Churn Dash block reminded me of summer Sundays at my rural grandparents where the uncles and Dad stood down in the cellar smoking, talking, and taking turns churning ice cream for dessert after supper. Granddad always “ate” the dasher. He’d get out a flat soup plate and balance the wooden part in it, scraping off every molecule with a narrow silver spoon. Happy times.

    Happy birthday to Miss Alice. Count me among those who can’t believe she’s three already. My daughter who is 30 still loves to roller skate and dreams of joining a Roller Derby team once she can afford the liability insurance. Chase those dreams, Uncle Sean!

  8. I don’t mind sewing by hand. And I do feel it gives me much more precision. I can see the value of learning to sew precise squares by hand, and how that experience will translate into better machine-sewn squares. I also like that sewing by hand allows me to be with my family and sociable, not bent over a noisy machine by myself.

    I’m glad someone explained the block name. I figured it had something to do with churning butter but wasn’t sure on the exact connection. I like how so many of the block names are evocative of the long history of quilting and handwork. Whoever was sewing together quilt blocks was also making the family’s butter. Have you read Farmer Boy? I believe the mother wove the cloth for clothes and knit the socks and put up all the food, too.

  9. the only thing about hand-sewing is that it does give you better control of the precise alignment of the pieces. If you care about that sort of thing. I am much more in favor of slapping things together fast to get finished and keep people warm. But then, I don’t make heirlooms. My quilts are drag-arounds that can go into the back yard, roll around on the floor, become a fort or a tent or a sail on a pirate ship. I expect my quilts to get worn out. god forbid one should treat a hand-sew quilt in that fashion!

  10. I haven’t hand sewn anything since I learned to use a machine! I love to embroider and have done hemming and such but I don’t see the purpose of hand sewing quilt blocks (unless it’s because you don’t have a machine.) I’ve hand quilted and that takes enough time as it is! I have a dream of a large quilt frame that i can sit at for hours at a time and just quilt my heart out. Where the space/time for this will come from, I have no idea but it’s a dream.

    Your quilt blocks look beautiful. Getting those points to match is tough work.

  11. I hand sewed a quilt years ago when I did a course. It filled in Winter evenings but now I like the speed of a sewing machine so I can fit in other things too. Your blocks are lovely and I do like the colours you have chosen. Happy Birthday Alice, she looks great in her roller skates!!

  12. I’m not a fan of hand-sewing, either…. but your squares look beautiful, as does your shawl, and of course Miss Alice! Give her a bday hug for me! Three! Unbelievable!

  13. The dasher is the business end of an old-fashioned butter churn. The bottom of the dasher (the part in the cream) was made with regional style. The square you made looks like a certain type of butter churn dasher. By the way, your quilt squares are quite lovely.

  14. Definetly would be sewing them by machine, I haven’t heard of anyone hand sewing the blocks before…..Just take your time to make sure the corners join up & you will do just fine…..- don’t know if anyone has told you about the 3 foot rule….If you can’t see an error from 3 feet away….it doesn’t count! (hard for us perfectionists to think that way though) Good luck!

  15. I just do not like hand sewing one bit! When I make a quilt (because I do plan on it!), it will most definitely be machine sewn. And probably machine quilted by someone else, I suspect! But a great idea to do a class, it’s a great way to learn stuff you just can’t get from books and the Internet.

    • if I’d had the slightest idea I was signing up for a ‘make a quilt by hand’ course I’d have thought twice about it, that’s for sure. I think it’s a good skill to learn but not one I’ll employ a lot I think!

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