At the end of last year, when I knew I’d have to leave Atlanta and I’m terrible at maintaining long-distance friendships, I convinced some friends to form a virtual quilting group with me. Several were novice or entirely inexperienced with quilts, but that didn’t matter. I was going to teach them.
I sifted through dozens of Blocks of the Month to find something free/affordable, beginner-friendly, and attractive. We’re a younger group as far as quilters go, mostly 30s and 40s, and these sort of quilts tend to look a bit dated. I discovered Moda Blockheads then, which didn’t meet the needs my group had, but I joined their Facebook group, figuring it might be a good resource for later. I promptly forgot about it and moved on.
And then March rolled around, and suddenly the group comes alive as Blockheads 4 begins.
I can’t stress enough how bad of an idea it was to do this. I was moving out at the end of the month. And I wasn’t exactly moving in anywhere. I was going to be living in an airbnb and then presumably taking over my parents’ camper trailer at the end of the month. They were getting a house built and living in the camper in the meantime but weren’t sure if it would be ready by May. Either way, the camper needed to be moved, but I didn’t know where I could move it to because most of the parks in the area are 55+ or full. I didn’t have a vehicle to tow it with. Also, this trailer is 22′ long. It’s hard to fathom just how small and cramped a 22′ camper with three beds, a kitchenette, and a bathroom is.
Also, as I already mentioned, I don’t like sampler quilts. This is a personal preference. I’m not dissing on anyone else’s personal aesthetic. If, in later posts, I comment on not liking something, the same will hold true then. Nothing is everyone’s cup of tea. Blockheads’ approach of keeping everything a mystery and giving vague quantities of fabric that didn’t make sense once the squares started coming out (are people using layer cakes just falling apart right now or do they know in their hearts of hearts what they’re supposed to do with the background fabric to make it work?) and withholding lay-out ideas is definitely not my cup of tea.
But my life was falling apart. I was failing at everything else I tried to do. I was losing my home and my car. I couldn’t trust that most of the friends I’d made in Atlanta were my friends anymore. I was being driven out of the city I’d lived in for 15 years. I was barely employed and lacking the skills to get a proper job. I was unable to write because of everything happening. I needed something, anything, that would prove I was capable of succeeding in adverse conditions and, as silly as it is, that was Blockheads.
Hopefully. I’m a long way away from a victory quilt.
I wasn’t sure what to do about making this something I’d like. My mother made a comment at some point about how she wanted me to make her a quilt for her new house, and I briefly considered making this for her and writing the whole thing off as more of a skill-builder than a victory lap. But then I found Robert Kaufman’s ‘Melon Ball’ fat quarter bundle, and inspiration struck.
When I purchased it, I wasn’t sure how I was going to work with it yet, but that was okay. Plans don’t have to be fully formed when plotting out a quilt (might be the worst advice I give you, but the blog is young). There was a two-week shipping delay, but I was moving in two weeks, no big deal.
And then that shipping delay got extended further, and I got nervous about how much fabric I was really going to need. Again, the introduction instructions are vague and in units most people wouldn’t be shopping for fabric in. It calls for a handful of layer cakes (10″ squares) and some yardage of background fabric, and it doesn’t explain if the background fabric is meant to go in the squares. That space isn’t clearly marked in the patterns. I knew the fat quarters I ordered would equal well more than the layer cakes by yardage, but I had no idea if I truly had enough fabric.
And I was in Melbourne Beach, Florida. Right across the street from my job was Quilts and Lace, and that shop is *delightful*. I refined my plan further, deciding that I would do six sets of squares, each set made from a pink, an orange, and a print, matched up by brightness. I bought a total of eight fat quarters to play around with and waited for my bundle to arrive.
There was drama. Since I’m somewhat transient, I’m using my parents’ address, but that’s not where they’re living, either. Again, camper trailer. The package was briefly lost, thankfully found. A day of washing, starching, and ironing that made me feel like a depression-era widowed laundress working to feed her six kids later, I was able to make my matches. And I think I did a pretty darned good job of it.
I’m still not sure if I have enough fabric. Right now, my plan is to work with the darkest fabric first and see how far it gets me. If it gets me six squares, fantastic. If I can tell I’m going to come up short, I’ll add bits of the next darkest fabrics and go from there. I figure that way, if I need more at the end, I can use whites.
I’m as ready to do this as I’m going to be, all things considered.