Saturday, March 5, 2022

crossroads joy

last spring i came across a quilt pattern known as the "crossroads quilt" by treehouse textiles, an australian company. i don't know where i first saw it or exactly how i got sucked in, but i surely did get sucked in. 

it's such a simple block and a great opportunity for making a very scrappy quilt. there's something about that red center that ties all the crazy blocks together. i was definitely intrigued, but it was marci warren's description of the quilt as "a rowdy yard sale" that tipped me over. 

i needed a rowdy yardsale quilt. especially one with little red squares in it.

i knew this kind of scrappy quilt could be a project i did one block at a time, here and there, so i decided to just get it started. because the more quilts i start, the more i finish.

it took me a bit to commit to buying the pattern, though. i have a confession to make - i loathe buying patterns i know i could easily figure out on my own. i actually like doing quilt math! often, when i see a quilt i like, the first thing i do in my mind is figure out how it's constructed and what the probable dimensions are. it's part of the fun and challenge of quilting for me.

and this block is about as basic as it gets. but i checked in with tracy and she said i needed to do the right thing and buy the pattern if it wasn't a standard, traditional block. i think she's right. there are patterns for sale out there that reinvent the wheel many times over by using traditional blocks and calling it theirs; blocks that have been around and redone by many quilters for decades and decades. those i do not feel obligated to buy. if i see a quilt composed of, say, log cabin blocks or flying geese, i don't feel obligated to purchase. but i hadn't seen the crossroads block anywhere else, so i supported the designer. even though i paid $15au for one page of instructions given in about two paragraphs and one diagram.

my problem is not at all with supporting designers. i'm all for that and do it frequently. my grousing is about the cost to level of difficulty ratio here. (i'd say this is a $2-$5 pattern. i mean, literally, all i needed was someone to say, "the units are this size, the strips are this size, and the center is this size," and i would have been able to make the quilt.) 

but i paid for it. designers have a right to make money on their intellectual property just like i have a right to share free tutorials if i choose. and when someone asked me about the pattern, i did not give them the dimensions, but referred them to the designer.

now that i've aired my conscience and views on the matter, let's get back to the quilt.

i selected a fiery red, kona "pimento" 865, that definitely has orange tones in it, for my middle squares. i decided on a color palette of sunny yellow, bright greens, baby blue, navy, and orange, with bits of pink or red in the tiny accents, too.

then i got the real pleasure of digging into my scrap bins for my skinniest bits for the "road" strips.

i sat down to make one block and made four. it was just that fun! once i got over the price of the pattern, i've had nothing but joy out of these blocks.

each block is an opportunity for pairing a unique set of fabrics together. mulling over those pairings was quite pleasing. by approaching the quilt one or two blocks at a time, i got to spread the joy of fabric selection out throughout the process of making the top instead of doing all that at the beginning and then just grinding through the assembly.

each block is sort of like a simple mini in and of itself. i go to do all the parts of making a whole top - fabric selection, cutting, sewing - in many small chunks. there was no tedium or slogging through a lot of one chore all at once. it's more like a collection of many little projects eventually coming together as one larger project. making a couple at a time satisfied my itch to quilt very thoroughly. i never felt rushed to get on to more or the next set. for a quilter with sporadic chances to sew, this worked very well.

once or twice i made a single block late at night when i couldn't sleep and it was exactly what i needed to help my brain wind down. there was also little to get wrong, unlike most projects that i have to walk away from when i'm tired. i'm happy to report i never once had to unpick a single block!

i got to use skinny bits of fabrics i love, including several pieces of liberty.

i found myself gravitating toward a vintage look, which lead me to use mostly denyse scmidt, heather ross, and heather bailey fabrics.

part of the fun in this project was i gave myself permission not to press the fabrics before cutting and to use my little roller presser right at the machine when putting blocks together rather than pressing all the individual pieces as i joined them. this gave me blocks and seams that were not perfectly pressed, but it added to the feel of this being a vintage, handmade treasure found in grandma's attic. interestingly, once i began joining blocks i found no more distortion than when i do all the pressing by iron; probably because i'm a heavy ironer not a good little light presser.

this saved a ton of time and really freed me to enjoy the process of cutting one or two blocks and knocking them out without having to get up from the machine and press after every seam. it allowed me to chain piece a block more quickly, too. having to do all that up-and-down for the pressing on each block would have been quite tedious. a small iron and pressing mat next to the machine would have done the trick, too. but i don't have that set up currently. i think it's something i need to consider investing in soon.

i've worked on these blocks here and there, a few at a time over the last several months. for some inexplicable reason they are just so fun to make and quite addicting.

now that i have all 56 blocks completed, i am thinking what other color palette i want to make this quilt in because i will really miss these blocks! i cant remember the last time i enjoyed making blocks so much.

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