Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tumbling Blocks

"You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together both outwardly and inwardly. You have One faith, One Master, One baptism, One God the Father of all, who rules through all, is present through all, and works through all. Everything you are, think and do, is permeated in Oneness." Ephesians 4:4
Have you ever had a project get out of hand? This one did. That seemed funny since the whole thing is made by hand from beginning to end. What started out to be a simple millennium quilt ended up being a 5 year lesson in patience.
So in 1999, quilters online were all trading little 2.5" squares. You would cut up so many charms and then send them out to other quilters all around the world. We were all trying to get 2000 of them and make a Y2K quilt. I loved trading. It made every day a good mail day. I really wanted to decide a nice quilt to put them in. At the same time, our guild had had a program that taught us all how to English paper piece. That's when you use some sort of template (most of the time paper) and you baste the fabric to the template. Then you piece all the pieces together and take out the paper. A lot of Grandma's Garden quilts are done this way since hexagons would be so hard to piece traditionally. I decided to challenge myself and use English paper piecing to make a tumbling block therefore, skipping the hassle of inset seams. I wanted the pieces to be nice and little and the quilt completely by hand. Plus it would be a nice study in value.
I drafted the pattern on my computer and printed out hundreds of the paper templates. They all needed to be cut, then the fabric basted on, then pieced into little Light, Medium, Dark tumbling blocks. Once I got a ton of those done I started to put them all together. I played around with different sets but saw one in a book that I might want to modify to my taste. Little by little the quilt started to grow. My daughter was a toddler then and there was time here and there to do hand work. Soon all the Y2K charms were used and I thought the quilt looked too little. So I drafted it out bigger and reached into my stash of sample fabrics squares I had been hording. Well. . . . .You'd think that with an engineering degree I might have figured that making the set a little bigger would increase the number of square dramatically. But no. . . .I didn't figure that out until the end (five years later) when I counted over 4200 of them in it. When finished, I was tired of the project and was glad to get it done. It ended up being 65" by 95". I said never again - but never say never. This year I started a pinwheel tessellating quilt all done by hand. Sighhhhhhhhhhhhh. . . . . . . . . .


  1. What a delightful blog! I'm thankful that you left a comment in the Glass House so that I could follow you back here. Admittedly I come from a long line of hopeless needleworkers! Oh but I admire the beauty of the work of your hands...but also of your heart. The lesson tied in with the verse was very effective. I hope to hear your thoughts often, both here and in my space!

  2. I've been working on my hand pieced tumbling blocks quilt for 2 years. The top is almost finished and I have a strong desire to machine quilt it just to have the project finished. Good luck with your pinwheel quilt!

  3. Wow! Absolutely stunning. I know just how much work a quilt like this involves.

  4. I had to come see this quilt after you mentioned it! I love the pattern! Thanks for the inspiration/motivation!

  5. That quilt is awesome. I'm saving a picture of it to my "inspirations" folder. Thank you very much for posting it - I just wish there were more photos, and more detailed ones, to show off your work fully :)


Thank you so much for your comment! Its great to get feedback!!!