I began this quilt, or should I say, I began the scrappy improvisation blocks for this quilt, during the first workshop I took with Denyse Schmidt. You can see my blocks from that weekend more in the second part of the write-up. In the class, we randomly grabbed and pieced small strips together using her paper bag piecing method. This is just what it sounds like, grabbing little bits of fabric from brown paper bags, with absolutely no thought as to what gets paired with what, or what color combinations result. (This is exactly why so many of the blocks you see from her classes have that beautifully random, "use what you have" homespun look.)
You may also remember that I painted a couple of these blocks in acrylics, and that painting is one of my very favorites.
As I pieced I became obsessed with grabbing the tiniest bits of fabric and sewing them together. I knew I couldn't possibly sew an entire quilt this way, it would take years! I had brought thrifted men's shirtings with me, some white and some with white background. Denyse suggested I treat those as solids and play with framing the little pieced blocks. She's a smart one, that Denyse. That's how this Jewel Boxes quilt began.
I came home from that weekend with only 3 completed blocks, and the beginnings of 3 more. Working on it became my last priority as other, more pressing deadlines, came my way. Those blocks sat in a ziplock bag for nearly 2 years. The other day, I finally pulled them out and put them up on the design wall. Now was the time to hatch a plan to finish them. I have a manuscript coming my way at any moment, and have been finishing up lingering projects and cleaning my studio in anticipation. Here they are up on my flannel wall, I still had 3 blocks to make at this point.
I decided it was more important to finish the thought rather than make a full-sized quilt, so this measures 45" x 45", with 9 blocks, more like a wall hanging. I also thought all the white space surrounding the jewel boxes would be perfect space to play with free-motion quilting, which I've been attempting more and more lately.
It was hard to get back into the same "scrappy, improv piecing mode" I had at the original workshop, and I worried the newer blocks wouldn't have the same feel as the original ones. In order to keep the whole wonky feeling, I had to be more intentionally random, if that makes sense. Hopefully it worked.
The quilt top was a cinch to sew together, these blocks sew up fast. I decided to do a paisley-ish shaped free-motion stitching pattern all over the white space, I have been doodling this type of shape a lot recently to build muscle memory and doing this really works! I like the curvy free-motion quilting against all the straight, wonky angular lines.
Keep in mind, it was only a year ago that I was terrified to free motion quilt and would do anything to avoid it! JUMP IN THERE AND JUST DO IT!!! Also, the amount of quilting on this makes it stiffer than I would want a bed quilt to be. If I were making this to be used, I would have made larger paisley shapes with a bit more unquilted space. It's perfect for a wall hanging though.
The back is pieced with three different fabrics.
Not sure where I will hang this yet, maybe the studio. It's fun to look at. Another for the finished pile, which is finally growing bigger!