Never throw a quilt block away

Have you ever worked your butt off on a new concept, maybe making block after block, only to hate them at the end of the day?  This, as you can tell, happens to me more frequently than I’d like.  Case in point: last spring I fished out some Hawaiian fabric that I’d had from a previous fetish (and a few old quilt projects.)  This lushly printed, tropical themed stuff brings back vacation memories, and calms and slows me to a better pace & mindset.  I had also been working on that large, school art project, steeped in traditional quilting.  My husband is an attorney, and very rarely remarks on any of my quilt designs, but one day he seemed intrigued by the pattern, Courthouse Steps.  And that gave me an idea… Hawaiian Courthouse Steps, why not?

New Hawaiian Courthouse Steps from old strips of fabric.

From our many vacations to Maui, I am a frequent flier in the three fabric & quilting shops on the island.  It’s wonderful to say, “I bought this print on our last vacation.”  Sew Special is my fav, but also Discount Fabric Warehouse and Fabric Mart are very good for traditional prints, often featuring exuberant florals, such as hibiscus and plumeria.

Where good ideas come from: blocks developed in a Freddy & Gwen class in 2007.

Don’t you just love it when new ideas come flooding in?  Good fortune brought me into the inaugural “Collaborative Quilting” class, using Freddy & Gwen’s book, at Asilomar back in 2007.  Learning from the masters is a great way to add techniques and just absorb good design.  One of the patterns in their book was a simple basket, made with a bias-loop handle and angular cut bottom.  Since I had been working with Hawaiian fabrics, it seem natural to try the basket in the fabric I had in front of me.  Well, that was a fabulous experiment (see block to the above left.)  It made my heart race (don’t all good ideas do that?)  And I wanted to make more.  A natural progression followed and I decided to make the basket as a beach pail, and dropped the handle down.  Oh design “wa-la” (as they DO say in French!) occurred – genius!

Original beach pail block on left & remake, with scenic background, on right.

Mind you, some times I think I’m a genius, then a failure – often minutes apart.  But this, I believe, was divine… every time I run across these blocks again, I get a big grin on.  Finally, it seemed the time was right to make more.  I had been collecting scenic Hawaiian prints, that have ocean, beach or surf scenes, to lend a natural looking background to my beach buckets.  Looks like the pail is right on the beach, huh?

The block that started it all is on the left... remake on right!

It’s Labor Day weekend and we’ve already gone back to school last week, darn.  Being away much of the summer, I didn’t get a chance to stick my toes in the water.  Still can’t resist the call of the ocean and of course, we’ll head down there after lunch today.  Much cooler down there, than cooped up in our house.

New Hawaiian log cabin free-form blocks.

Inspired by  The Quilts of Gees Bend, I used some old 2-4″ wide strips to craft some fun and impromptu log cabin blocks, keeping the centers predominately one color, red, in this example, per tradition.  My dilemma is whether to combine all these fun blocks into one crazy quilt, or keep them separate.  Freddy & Gwen would put them all together, as components from the “parts department.”  I’m visualizing them hand-tied, and snuggled under, after a day at the beach.  The smell of tropical florals, like plumeria, along the warm trade winds, can’t be far away.  Until next time, Maui, I’ll continue to stitch in your fabric.