Friday, May 16, 2014

So Many Quilt Blocks, So Little Time

I love making quilt blocks.  It is so much fun to cut and piece them, especially if I am cutting from my scraps.  Next to hanging out with family, it's my favorite thing to do.

I find I never get tired of piecing, probably because I'm always trying something new.  It may not always work out the way I want it to or expect it to, but that's just part of the challenge.

Lately I've been getting many of my challenges/ideas from the internet.  (Aren't we lucky to live now?)  A few posts ago I mentioned the Jane Austen block of the week, with blocks and background information by quilt historian Barbara Brackman.  What I didn't know then was that Ms. Brackman was running another blog with a block of the month, called Threads of Memory, based on real people and events on the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War.

Threads of Memory started in January, so I've got some catching up to do, but the new block is posted at the END of the month instead of the beginning.  As of now there are 4 blocks.  Each has a wonderful TRUE story about people who escaped from slavery, and the people who helped them.  The articles are well researched and illustrated.  The blocks are new, designed by Ms. Brackman, but based on familiar shapes and stars.  These are all 12 in. finished blocks.

Here's my first block, named Portsmouth Star, for Ona Judge Staines.  (I must admit, I changed it a tiny bit.) Ona was a slave who "belonged" to George and Martha Washington.  She ran away to New Hampshire and managed to keep her freedom, in spite of efforts to kidnap her and return her to the south.  I made the square in the center from plain muslin, so I could write a little bit of the information on it.  It reads: 
In Memory of Ona Judge Staines.  A free woman of color, and "perfect mistress of her needle".

My second block is called Mercer County Star, and honors Susan Lowe Wattles.  She and her husband worked to help freed slaves find jobs and land.  She was a teacher, who bravely taught black children and was persecuted for it by many of the people of Cincinnati.

For some reason I'm having trouble with these blocks, and not making them as nicely as I would like.  Maybe I'm in too much of a hurry.  Time to slow down.

Here's the link to Ona's block, the first in the Threads of Memory block of the month:
Threads of Memory #1: Portsmouth Star

The rest of the blocks can be kind of hard to get to through the blog.  The best way I've found is to go to the Flickr page where there is a current list of links to each block.
Threads of Memory Block Index

Another fun block I'm making is the Granny Squares block.  This version is made from 2.5 in. squares.  It's an old block, similar to an Album block, Brackman #2413.  The cool thing is, young quilters have rediscovered it and renamed it Granny Square, like the crocheted squares we did for afghans in the 1970s.
These blocks are made with 2.5 in. squares.  The outer white triangles start out as squares, that are trimmed away when the block is finished.  They end up measuring about 9 in. unfinished (8.5 in. finished).  Cute, right?
This trend seems to have been started at the Blue Elephant Stitches blog, which has a tutorial made up in modern fabrics.  The link is below.
Granny Square Quilt Block Tutorial
The above tutorial is made with squares.  She did an updated tutorial for the Moda Bakeshop with some limited strip piecing.  Here's the link to it:
Granny Square Quilt at Moda Bakeshop

So what am I going to do with all these blocks?  I guess I'll have 12 of the Threads of Memory blocks at the end of the year, which if properly set will make a twin sized quilt, so I'm not worried about those. 
The Granny Squares could end up being a big quilt, as long as I don't get tired of making them.  I have enough 2.5 in. strips to cut for a long, long time.
In the meantime, I'm using up scraps and staying out of trouble.

Happy quilting!


  1. I love your blocks. I made a great granny square quilt last year.

  2. Hi, Missy! Is it on your blog? I'd love to see it!


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