Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Orphan Blocks No More

Orphan Blocks No More

MailChimp seems to be having some technical difficulties locating my RSS feed. The algorithm worked fine for two months and then simply stopped sending new blog posts by e-mail. The last one went out February 4. As far as I know, nothing changed. Yesterday, I tried re-creating the RSS link according to the instructions provided by Squarespace, but MailChimp tells me that the link is not a valid feed. I opened a support ticket with Squarespace and am waiting to hear back from them. Ah, technology.


I had a wonderful sewing day with Tera on Wednesday. We sewed and visited; she was making a baby quilt for her fifth grandchild—and first granddaughter—and I plowed through the pile of stuff I had brought with me. The Featherweight performed flawlessly and I made a lot of progress.

[The Featherweight is not a machine I would take to classes with me. The bobbin cases are considered extremely valuable (the replacement bobbin cases from China are of very poor quality), and I have heard many stories of bobbin cases being stolen out of FW’s during class breaks. I don’t want to take the chance.]

Tera and I have very similar backgrounds. We both grew up in Ohio—I was listening to her talk and thinking how nice it is to hear someone else speak with the same Midwest twang that I have. We both had cancer when we were in our late 20s. We both love to sew and knit and do all things domestic; she puts up as much food as I do and lunch was a bowl of homemade tomato soup with canned peaches for dessert. We were roommates on the National Honor Society trip to Germany and eastern Europe with our girls in 2009. We don’t get together nearly often enough.

Yesterday afternoon, I took out the box of stuff I had worked on at Tera’s and looked at what I needed to do next. I had sewn all the black and white four-patches to squares of red Kona (Rich Red). I pressed them and put them up on the design wall and was able to make a piece 9 squares by 12 squares before I ran out. With 4” finished squares, that made the top 36” x 48”. MCC prefers that tied comforters be about 60” x 80”, so I went stash diving to see what I could come up with.

I will never apologize for the size of my fabric stash. I don’t care if it approximates the square acreage of Rhode Island—it gives me a lot of joy and allows me to share that joy with other people. I calculated that I could add a 12” border on each side and that would get me up to the correct size; that border could be 12” wide, made up of two pieces 6” wide, or made up of three pieces 4” wide. From a design standpoint, I would have preferred one narrow border and one wider border, but as this was intended to be a tied comforter, I went with the three 4” borders to match the squares in the center and facilitate the even placement of knots.

This is the result:


See that red, white, and black paisley print? (It’s the middle border.) That remnant has been sitting in my stash FOR.EVER. I love paisley prints. Every so often, I would take that print out and consider a possible use for it, but every time I did, it whispered, “Not yet.” When I took it out again yesterday afternoon, it said, “Yes.” I don’t argue with fabric. It was waiting for this top.

I can design on the fly with fabric in ways I never could with yarn. Part of that, I think, is due to how slow knitting is compared to sewing. It’s one thing to rip out half an hour’s worth of sewing and re-do it because the design isn’t working; it’s quite another to rip out three evenings’ worth of knitting and re-do it because the design isn’t working. That is the reason I spent so much of my prep time swatching and making sure I had the math worked out ahead of time for my sweater designs.

Now that this top is done, I am second-guessing whether it should be tied or quilted. It would make a fine quilt and I could still donate it to one of the relief sales. Tera has a longarm machine and would be happy to help me quilt it some afternoon. I am thrilled to have gotten those four-patches out of the orphan box and into a quilt.

[I noticed, while sewing the four-patches and the red squares together, that my cutting and piecing has improved dramatically since I made those four-patches. Some of them looked like an afternoon of sewing met a glass of wine and the sewing lost. I had to do some creative fudging to get several of them to fit.]

I also sewed together three rows of tumbler blocks. They are growing on me, although they are hard for this spatially-challenged sewist to put together. I sewed a number of them together the wrong way on Wednesday and had to redo them. I think I might also like tumblers better in a quilt with a coordinated colorway rather than a scrappy quilt. I’ll have to try that with a baby quilt some time. The husband went off to fire training last night and I got out the Accuquilt to cut more tumbler blocks. The scrap bags overfloweth and need to be tamed.

Winter in Montana

Winter in Montana

Sewing With a Friend

Sewing With a Friend