IMperfectionism: the humility block in quilting

Recently, when taking my newly quilted table runner to my quilting group, I mentioned to a few of the ladies what I had been working on and then brought up the subject of my imperfect block.  Comments? Yes, and two of note were:

“What mistake? I can’t see it?  (I point it out)  OH…  just leave it in.”


“Oh, that will be your ‘humility block.’  Just leave it!”  Whereupon she proceeded to tell me about how the Amish always leave in an imperfect block in their quilts because it shows their humility to God.

Well, I went looking for the Humility Block and guess what?  It just isn’t true.  As near as can be found, the concept began in about 1948.  You have to wonder why people make things up like that.  😉

So now, if you go to your quilters guild and ask, they may well tell you the myth, and in great detail, but you will know the truth of it.  Want to know more about this charming, but entirely untrue quilter’s tale?  Then go to Hart Heritage Quilts  (scroll down a ways on this site)  or to Cats Quilt Art to read in more detail.

So, what did I ultimately decide to do?  After reading about how many vintage and antique quilts there are out there with a high value attached to them, and that the imperfections are considered ‘quirks’ of the maker… well, I decided to let it go.  I’ve  bound it, its done, and I’m happy.

The block is called *“Railroad.”  The table runner is machine pieced and quilted, however the binding is hand sewn!

Though I must confess I do sort of like the myth behind the Humility Block.  Old or new to the quilting tradition, the quirky block in even the oldest of quilts stands the test of time, and I don’t care when the myth was begun.   I like it.


So what’s next?
NOTE:  I find that I have called my four patch block the “Underground RR,” and it is actually simply called “Railroad.”  I found the pattern on the Civil War Quilts website, in which Barbara Brackman stated that, “Railroad can symbolize the end of the Underground Railroad, a change in the strategy of escape from slavery.” (Emphasis mine)  The fact that I loved the block and purchased the fabric for it almost a year ago, but was afraid to cut it out for fear of ruining it (!!!) had apparently combined her comment, and the quilts actual name, in my mind between then and now.  So, thank you to Tracy Byers for, indirectly, pointing out my mistake!  😉

Keepin’ busy. How about you?

I have been working feverishly on regaining my sewing skills and over the course of an entire year I have, I think, regained much of what I need to get my Etsy store going.  I have made simple  curtains, a dust ruffle, and a hand tied quilt for the guest room… to which I just put the binding on this past week.

This is the first full-sized quilt I have ever made.  I totally cheated and hand tied it to a wonderfully warm and fuzzy blanket.  I made the binding from leftover blocks I sewed together and stripped.  I owe deepest apologies to my friends Tim and Pam for not having the binding on by the time they arrived… I could hardly stand the fuzz as I worked, I simply can’t imagine sleeping with it.  Sorry!

I made my first apron,  using my own pattern.  It is machine sewn with a hand quilted pocket and embroidery to dress it up.  It is very fifties in style, but the embroidery is a thirties effect.

No, it is not uneven, I hung it crooked!  I will have to be more careful when I’m photographing my items for sale…

For Bob I made two pairs of pajama bottoms from flannel I found at Sir’s in Fayetteville, TN.   The deal with Sir’s is this… if you find it and you like it grab what you need, plus a little extra for later, or it will simply have vanished the next time you go back.

Such was the case here.  Not wanting to wear Hello Kitty, or anything juvenile or pink,   we bought what was left of the blue plaid and I had to get creative with the length.  Using the selvages I cut a cuff, and applied it with a bit of black piping I made.  If there had been enough material I would have been able to match the plaids and put the cuff on the bias.  But then if that were the case I wouldn’t have had to add the cuffs now would I?  😉  He is comfortable and warm so that’s what counts, yes?

And now we come to the portion of today’s post that I am totally in love with… these newly quilted half-square triangles that I made last week.  I am using scrappy looking finds from, you guessed it, Sir’s.

Balkan Puzzle

Chunky Chevron

I was so exited to get these completed, and I really think my work was good, so imagine how disappointed I was when I put the 12 and 1/2 square rule down on top only to find that they were a bit smallish.  My only explanation for it is that my 1/4 inch quilting foot is off.   So, I will forge ahead and remember to not work so tightly along the foot’s edge.

In the meantime, I am debating whether or not to make pillows or incorporate these into an apron.  What do you think?  Other ideas?

I almost forgot!  I made myself a clock too!  Many years ago my friend Andrea was hosting some exchange students from Japan.  I guess in Japan it is simply unacceptable to go visiting with empty hands.  Hence I was the recipient of a lovely silk kerchief.  I am allergic to silk… so the kerchief sat in a my drawer for almost 20 years.  A travesty I say!  So,  I carefully quilted it on the machine with lovely metallic gold thread, and set it into an embroidery hoop.  I then backed the piece with heavy cardboard and inserted clock works into its face.  I have seen many of these on the different quilting sites, but none done in lovely whole cloth silk!

Now I can enjoy my lovely gift and know what time it is as well.



applause… Pleeease!

I know I am supposed to wait for the big reveal,


I can’t wait.

Look what I did all by myself today!

(Sound like a little kid don’t I?)

Made a template (hint, use an old blade for cutting paper)  😉

drilled holes through paper and into studs

used drill pattern to properly space drilled holes into the frame/brace (hint, use wood blocks under two by four to prevent drilling into your new floor)  🙂

assemble and attach frame to wall,

VOILA!   My new sewing table!

I’m so excited to have this (almost) done, and it’s level too!  😀

I still have to paint the frame and legs, secure the top to the frame, and put some trim along the back and side of the table.

More later!

The Journey Continues

Where am I going?  Nowhere really, but I am enjoying the experience and getting nearer stitch by stitch!

Let me explain…

I had wanted to get an Etsy store up and running featuring my handwork at my sewing machine and using my hand stitching skills.  Well, what you used to know, and had skill doing, can and will be lost over the years.  How does the saying go?  “Use it or lose it!”  So, OK I haven’t completely lost it, but it was definitely rusty.

To regain, sharpen, and incorporate new skills, I have been practicing on myself and a new friend.  I’m pretty certain she won’t mind being my guinea pig for this project.  Pretty certain…

So day by day, week by week I sewed, ripped, sewed again.   Now I am down to the hand stitching part.  I have done many a project that utilized embroidery, but never hand quilting.  Um, don’t let the looks of it fool you!


Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say I am not enjoying it.  I am!  I find that stitch by stitch they get smaller, tighter, straighter… or not… and then it’s pick-pick-pick it out and try again.  I poke my fingers with the little needle.  I watch the ladies on Youtube as they stitch away in perfect stitches.  Heck, I watched one lady at least a dozen times to try to figure out how to just tie a proper knot and hide it into the quilt.  GOT IT!  But I’ll by hanged if I can figure out how she tied it at the end and hid the last finishing stitch.  Till then, I make my sewn finishing stitch as I would for a tailored item and hide the end of the thread beneath the fabric so it at least looks tidy.

I will not win a quilting ribbon for my first item, but I am pleased that this old lady can still learn a trick or two!  The refining will still take a bit, but I feel like I am on my way!

So, my stitches aren’t perfect, but hey, they are vastly improved! 🙂

Note:  The stitches on the right were the first rows done, and the two boxes in the center are just finished.  Better?  (Red running stitches are basting.  The quilting pins were making me feel like a human pincushion!)