Quilting can be a methodical thing if you let it. It is, after all, one of the many ways in which we quilters are using that high school math we never though we’d need. It can also get redundant in the use of ages old patterns or if you have a preferred color palette. If you’re not careful, you can end up with an armoire full of quilts all in shades of pink. In order to avoid, these issues, you have to do what I like to call, thinking outside the blocks.
I don’t see many people using the pre-printed embroidery blocks any more. At least not where I live presently. Where I was born and raised, it’s a little more common, but still is waning. If you’re not sure what these blocks are, take a look at Jack Dempsey’s selection. These blocks typically come in 9” or 18” and come in sets of six or twelve. The designs range from nursery themes to childhood images to flowers and hearts and tractors. They’re made with the primary thought in mind of creating quilt tops by either sewing the blocks together once embroidered to setting them like you would a patch-work with a strip of fabric separating the blocks. If you live in a community where this craft is popular, before you know it, everyone has a quilt on display in their home featuring roses. A few years ago, I began to ponder, what else could I create from these blocks?
My first venture outside the blocks was a baby bag made from 9” nursery themed blocks. I was home for some reason or other and Mom and I started brainstorming and tinkering at the craft table one day. My sister was pregnant with her youngest and I came up with the idea to create and gift her a handmade baby bag. It took a set of six blocks, three for each side of the bag. We created a bottom and side from 6-8” strip of fabric and fabric stabilizer to make it sturdy. We attached some handles and voila, we had a bag. I wish could find a picture of that first one, but alas, it escapes me where it is. Nonetheless it was a cool project!
After that, I was in all crafty quilty mode. We’ve made market totes out of the 18” blocks, curtains out of quilts, and you can create some nifty toss pillows with two 18” blocks and a piece of pillow foam. My latest adventure is making table cloths/runners from the embroidered blocks. I’ve created a couple of them this week. One is for the store and the other is a gift. The 18” block is surrounded by eight 9-patch blocks, then it’s quilted and hemmed. It is about the size of a lap quilt and fits perfectly angled on a small dining table. It looks very elegant with some lace draped beneath. I’m excited to be making these and can’t wait to share more of them with y’all.
Until next time, always remember to think outside the blocks.