Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tumbling Block Quilt

I guess it's been about five years since I started hand sewing diamonds together to make tumbling blocks. I know it wasn't long after I joined the Guild, and that was sometime in 2005.

I've been sewing and sewing on these little tumbling blocks, and I've made at least one previous post about them. And about "The Cutting Out Of The Diamonds." I've sewn a lot of them in the car, with MisterStitches driving, when we are on a straight road. (Not Highway #1 up the coast!) And I've taken them along to quilting get-togethers when I need some hand work to do. Also great for watching movies at home.

"The Sewing Of The Blocks" has been very enjoyable. It's kind of therapeutic, I think, just stitching and stitching, not having to think a lot about what I'm doing. (That's because I got them all arranged in sets of three [light, medium, and dark] before I started out traveling/sewing.)
I recently decided that I probably have enough blocks to make into a quilt. I have counted and re-counted them so many times, that I've forgotten how many I have all together.

Yesterday was "The Ironing Of The Tumbling Blocks" to make sure all the seams are going the right direction. And today I began laying them out on the floor, arranging them all so I don't have too many pink ones together, for example. This is not a true charm quilt, where no fabric is used twice. I did not have the patience to find that many different fabrics! But it is a scrap quilt, i.e., made from leftovers.

The above photo shows the start of "The Laying Out Of The Tumbling Blocks." I pushed aside the dining room table and proceeded to use the wooden floor in our "great room" which is where the kitchen and dining room and living room all blend together.
I just love how the three-dimensionality of the blocks shows up!
I started in the middle and kept adding circles around the center as I built up the squares. There is still a good amount of room around the outside, so I can maneuver easily.

Last night I did "The Sorting and Stacking Of The Blocks." I sorted all the blocks into stacks of green blocks, brown blocks, pink blocks, purple blocks, blue blocks, etc. You can see that I've put all these different stacks onto a cookie sheet, which is resting on a towel, so that I could easily drag/push the full cookie tray as I scooted around the perimeter of the quilt, adding blocks and adding blocks and adding blocks...

And here I have finished, I think. There's not much room left to maneuver in the dining room. (I have to grab hold of the counter [out of sight at the left] so I can walk around that side of the "arrangement" without stepping on it.)

Right now it's all lain out measuring 95" x 120." Of course, those measurements are not adjusted for the seam allowances, so it will be somewhat smaller than that.

OK, now that they are all lain out, I've counted them and there are a total of 425 blocks. I have been doing a lot of math today, and I think I've used every little math cell in my brain! I'm trying to figure out what the final dimensions will be! (I need MisterStitches for this. Or should I say, "MisterMath" in this case.) Maybe it will be easier to just "sew and let sew."

My next step, of course, is "The Sewing Together Of The Blocks." I'm going to pick them all up, being sure to keep them in stacks of rows, so that I will be sewing the blocks together in the order I have them now.

I know of a plastic fabricating shop, so I am going to take a drawing of the final size of a block there and have them make me a plastic template so that I can have a "Squaring Up Of The Blocks" before I sew them together.
You know, I almost feel like this is cheating. My grandmother couldn't have done this! But I am not as good of a seamstress/quilter as my grandmother/mother/sister, and I think squaring up the blocks will really help me in the end.
This gives me a chance of my quilt lying somewhat flat when I get it all sewn together!

I imagine that it will take me quite a while to get all these blocks sewn together. After all, I didn't sew together 425 blocks overnight! But I am excited to be onto the next step of this quilt.

I'll keep you posted.

Has anyone sewn together a quilt like this before? Any input would be appreciated.


  1. Boy Jan, I have to tell you, I am so impressed, this is really amazing. I have only done very simple quilts. I so love what you have going here. Can't wait to see it finished. And, I hear I might get to see you in Gualala this summer too! YAY!

  2. Wow! I remember when you started making these blocks, it doesn't seem like that long ago, at least not long enough for you to get so many done! Good job!

  3. WOW! It's beautiful already. What a lot of work it has already been! Keep up the great work and I can't wait to see it in person - maybe hanging on a Gualala Arts wall! :)

  4. Thanks, Teresa. I hope it doesn't take me several years to get it completed. But I will be sewing them together by hand, so it just might! Can't wait to see you in Gualala this summer. I will be ready to assist with handing out bags.

  5. Hi Pam! Thanks. Yes, it was just after I'd joined the Guild when I started them. And that was in 2005. Now I'm anxious to get them all together.

  6. Thanks, Harmony! I love the "scrappy" look of it all lain out together. I'd love to see it on a GAC wall sometime too!