Quilter’s Block

You know about writer’s block – well, I’m experiencing “quilter’s block”.

I finished my last quilt about a month ago. I would normally start a new quilt right away – with a surfeit of fabric in my stash it usually isn’t hard to pull out a stack and begin something new.

This time there were a couple of subtle pressures interfering with my moving ahead: my reserve of small zippered bags was just about empty, I still have that Kantha jacket to remake for Marlene (that’s been hanging around for months, not quite making it to the top of my list, despite taking some seams apart, basting them together and trying the adjustment for fit – not quite right yet again), two aprons for a friend, and the microwave potato bags I was originally planning as gifts for the Friday knitting gals! (Oh yes, and an heirloom nightgown as a demonstration piece although that weekend workshop didn’t happen.)

In fact, three weeks ago, I bought a collection of new fabric – only because it was on sale at half price – not because I needed more fabric! I chose the central fabric, a William Morris inspired print, then built a collection around it. I felt inspired to work with a “Drunkard’s Path” block again. I cut 6″ strips from each of the new fabrics plus several more that complemented the others, I cut one set of 6″ blocks (two from each fabric), then cut the paired shapes which make up a Drunkard’s Path block.

I laid out contrasting pairs using some William Morris fabric in each block. I moved the elements around but the fabrics didn’t speak to me at all. I turned the photo into a black and white – there lurked a surprise:

The majority of my fabrics read as “medium” with the wrong ones reading “dark” and few “light”. The William Morris fabric was actually one of the “medium” fabrics – not a dark. I tried again with fewer colour elements.

By removing four fabrics the colour values balanced better but I still wasn’t inspired. I realized my problem was with the original focal fabric! While I like the William Morris fabric, it pulled me into a set of rather dull colours. No “pop”. These fabrics would make a nice quilt but not one I was going to enjoy working on.

I walked away from even sewing these Drunkard’s Path blocks – I gathered up the pieces and put them away in one of my scrap boxes.

The “cure” for writer’s block is to write. Write gibberish, free write, keep writing anything whether it comes together or not. Just write.

That’s what I did. I cut the remainder of the 6″ strips of these fabrics into zippered bag rectangles, found a suitable fabric for lining and got to work making zippered bags!

The first batch used the quilt fabrics with a strong accent fabric and contrasting zipper and pull. For the second batch I dug through scraps for bright complementary fabrics. The third batch used up pieces from a sample set of blue.

In two days I made 34 zippered bags.

My Current Stash Of Zippered Bags

With “small zippered bags” off my list, two days ago I turned to microwave potato bags. A microwave potato bag is used to bake potatoes in the microwave – the potatoes come out fluffy rather than gluey. You use two pieces of fabric and some microwaveable batting. Takes 20 minutes to make one.

Wanting to be economical with my fabric, I cut 10″ x 22″ rectangles from two of the duller fabrics I’d originally intended to use with the William Morris fabric. (That’s the equivalent of 4 bags/meter of fabric.) Added some microwaveable “Wrap ‘n Zap” batting (which comes in a 22″ width very convenient – that, as well, gives you 4 bags/metre).

I layered the fabrics right sides together, placed the batting on top, stitched around the outer edges leaving a 4″ opening on one side, pressed the panel, stitched the opening closed. Then I folded the fabric to make a pouch, stitched down the open sides, and there was my finished microwave potato pouch.

Microwave Potato Bag

It took three tries before I streamlined the process – 1. Leave the opening to turn the bag right side out on one of the short sides rather than along one of the long sides; 2. Make the stitch around gap at least 4″ – widen enough to get your hand in so you can turn the pouch right side out easily; 3. Don’t bother stitching around the outside of the finished rectangle, just edge stitch across the end with the opening; 4. Stitch the two side seams 1/4″ from the edge going more slowly where the two ends overlap – it’s thick there, you need to allow the machine time to pierce the overlapped layers.

I’ve got three microwave potato bags done, five more are cut out ready to sew.

When those are finished, I’ll work on the two aprons – I bought a canvas fabric yesterday that should be a good weight for an apron.

Finally, I will take that Kantha jacket completely apart and recut the fronts, back and sleeves so the jacket will hang better. It’s not a humungous job, but it’s one I find myself resisting. But with the other stuff done I will tackle it.

As for a new quilt. I’m looking for something modern and bright to work on. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to be creative, just be productive.

That’s enough for the moment.

4 thoughts on “Quilter’s Block

  1. Pingback: Still Thinkin’ About Drunkard’s Path | jmn

    • I can’t stand not being productive. So I try to find a way to putting one foot in front of the other. I had planned on the potato microwave bags as a gift for the gals but when that didn’t look like panning out I changed direction – a jar of candied fruit (with raisins and chopped dates) marinated in dark rum instead. I’ve got that happening – I’ll make up the jars this week! Gotta Keep
      Movin’!

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