Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I gave myself a stern talking-to this morning. How could I call myself a Maverick Quilter if odd-shaped scraps made me queasy? What sort of free spirit could I be if I couldn't handle the sight of my table covered in fabric confetti? Was Order so important to me that it got in the way of creativity? How could I go on saving all these scraps if I was incapable of dealing with them? My hoarding of pieces then becomes a neurosis, not a virtue. I really thought I would enjoy this but it wasn't happening.

I realised that I was feeling overwhelmed because I was actually sewing three things at once, with different techniques. I was foundation piecing the stars, crumb-piecing the tiny bits, strip-piecing the sashes and trying to do a leader-ender project as well. I had made no attempt to organise myself so that I could find the bits for each section. I had upended 5 containers of scraps and was burrowing through the mess and not enjoying it one bit. Small wonder! I needed Order so that I could create without interruption.

So I packed away leader and ender pieces, to work on with my next quilt. Then I sorted the scraps into strips and squarish offcuts (henceforth referred to as wodges) and put away all the modern material that wouldn't fit in this particular quilt. That alone was a huge help.

I've made a lot of the pieced sashing , so I put all those all aside to work on later. I gathered up all the stuff for the stars and put that in one spot. And because there was just soooo many small scraps I decided to make 9" blocks in a combination of crumb and crazy piecing to use it all up.

I began sewing the wodges together, with no rhyme or reason. I picked up a bit, found something with a side that measured roughly the same and sewed them together. I did NOT at any stage use my judgement! I merely sewed. I did that for about an hour, then stopped and pressed all the little pairs. Then I repeated the same process to make bigger pieces. By this stage they were long enough to sew to strips, and trim the edges straight again. Behold, I was crumb-piecing!!

When we were in high school we used to go to country dances, in wonderful old community halls. The old-style dances were a joy, and we loved memorising the steps and twirling around those well-worn floors with the country boys. The steps were a recipe for success, everyone doing the same thing, to the same music, and all the dancers part of the intricate pattern.

Mum had been a wonderful dancer in her time, and the love of dancing was something we had in common. Once when watching an old movie we commented on the outrageous dancing some 1930's couple was doing. 'That!" snorted Mum derisively. "That's not dancing. That's jitterbugging." "Did you do that?" we asked, and Mum replied " I most certainly did not. I could have, but I didn't want to." Well it certainly looked like fun anyway.

We have always doubted that Mum ever could have jitterbugged; she just couldn't let loose and go with the flow. She was all about control. She was all about following the steps and getting the right result. That's how she was, but it's not how I want to be. So today when I came to the conclusion that I was being too staid and conservative I threw caution to the winds and just went wherever the scraps led. And I had fun. I made blocks.

How come I have to work so hard to do what comes naturally to people like Bonnie and Tonya? It's a mystery to me. I guess some people are born jitterbuggers, some people never want to do it, and some, like me, can learn if they try hard enough.


Fiona 9:47 AM  

Swinging blocks! I shall always think of this type of block as a 'Jitterbug Block' now - and the name fits perfectly, dynamic and fun.

Joyce 11:19 AM  

You must have learned your lesson well because the crumb blocks are fantastic. Such energy and movement. Jitterbug block suits them exactly.

Alisa 4:20 PM  

Your blocks look fantastic. Way to get over your fears!

mereth 1:29 AM  

Good Golly! I'm going to have to try these, they look wonderful.

I can remember Mum telling us that only 'Certain Types' used to jitterbug, meaning if they were that fast and loose on the dance floor they probably were in other ways too!!

Diana 2:01 PM  

Keryn, I love those blocks!

meggie 6:56 PM  

Thise blocks look so good! I dont know if I could manage to 'let go' to that extent either!

Patti 7:00 AM  

Wonderful blocks! I'm like you - I need order to the chaos. I know that you know just what I mean. I also have to work at being free and working outside the "rules". Your blocks look so much more free than what I've come up with so far - now I'm challenged to REALLY let go. We'll see what happens.

YankeeQuilter 3:28 AM  

When I have probelems with my eyes I like to make crumb blocks (though I love the term jitterbug block!) I don't have to strain to see the seams match - or not - and there isn't pressure on being able to place fabric. I just pick up pieces from the basket and run them through the sewing machine...very theraputic! My DH calls them blind woman blocks! I love how yours came out!

atet 10:55 PM  

I love the term "jitterbug" block. I've been putting off making some crumb blocks because they make me a bit nervous, which is odd, since I have free pieced hearts, stars and other blocks before. But having NO direction is scary. Thanks for the inspiration to dance my way through them.

Greenmare 6:36 AM  

I love them! I did that a couple years ago too and I thought it was just like playing. I'm looking forward to seeing how you finish this one!

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