|Photo used with permission from Debbie at the Stitchin' Therapy blog.|
These are Reversible Quilt-As-You-Go blocks, a design that appeared in (the also dearly departed) Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, July/August 1998 issue. The instructions were in the article "Reversible Quilt As You Go" by Margaret Gutowsky. I was originally attracted to this by the traditionally colored blocks featured in the article and the idea of making a quilt that would not need additional quilting when the blocks were done.
I started this waaayyy back in 2005, despite considering myself an avowed "machine quilter". At the time I was a parent volunteer in my sons' elementary school and I chaperoned students attending a weekly ballet program in Manhattan. I thought it would be interesting to have a quilt project that I could take along with me to work on. However, the class sessions were fairly short so I didn't get as much done on them as I hoped to during that time. When I was no longer doing the chaperone duties, this project never got back up to the top of the "To Do" list despite the fact that I've kept the pouch it's stored in "in plain sight" all these years.
Having become way more open to hand work projects over the last five years (as evidenced by the "Hand Work" link on the sidebar), I've frequently made plans to try to resume working on this on a regular basis. The last time I talked about them was back in February, 2015. At the time, my plan was to use them as a SSS project until the end of that year and finish it up. Obviously that didn't happen!
After commenting on Debbie's post, she suggested I get back on the horse and I heartily agreed! With the busy holiday season in swing from Halloween to New Year's, it's taken me a while to get set back up. Yesterday I was finally able to do so:
As usual, it was a little hard to get back in gear. While I already have a bunch of blocks pieced together and batting squares cut, the tough part is stuffing the batting in and getting it squared and laying flat inside the pieced block. Another reason I think the stitching was once slow going was that when I originally started out, I used Warm and White batting to stuff into the squares but found it difficult to needle and that was another reason my initial enthusiasm for the project was dampened. At some point, I got a hold of another bleached white needle punched cotton batting which was a little lighter so made the stitching a little easier.
Edited to add: Looking back at this post from 2010, I had noted that I started using Fairfield's Soft Touch batting.
I'm also still trying to work out the best needle to use. A straw needle (seen on the left below) makes finer stitches but they bend too much for my taste (or maybe I'm pushing them in too hard). I like the heavier and firmer Dritz needles (on the right) but can't get fine stitches with them --- what I produce with them is more in the "Big Stitch" category.
Fortunately that is fine, since I'm looking forward to this having that rustic, hand made "first quilt" look when done. I'm glad to attempt working on this again because I also REALLY want to start my (bucket list) hand quilted wholecloth project at the beginning of the year (the one I was supposed to start at the beginning of this year) and getting into the hand work groove now might help me meet that goal. At the least I got two lovelies (at the top below) finished this week and added to my pile:
I'm realizing that I've completed a lot of blocks with a red (or pink) side so I've organized the blocks I've already got sewn together so that the ones I work on next use other colors and add more variety to the completed pile in the coming weeks. I'm hoping to have enough done by the end of the month to start laying them out and stitching them together into rows. We'll see!