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!  😉

Where there is a will there is a way

Having recently discovered how much I love quilting, and especially needle turned applique, I was dismayed at the difficulty I was having with finger strength, dexterity, and painful joints.

So I went to the internet looking for a better solution to grasp the needle and to keep my fingers from being stabbed countless times per session in the studio.  The logical solution, or so it seemed to me, was to find some non-latex finger cots to give me a better grasp of the needle, and thus avoid the strain on my index finger and thumb.



Sadly I could not afford to buy the box of 500 Nitrile finger cots at a cost of about $57.00.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not to be deterred I reasoned that I could get the same traction from a finger off of a Nitrile glove.  So it was off the hardware store for Nitrile gloves, in the paint department, at a cost of $4.99 for a package of 25.

Do the math!  5 X 25 = 125 finger cots!

I snipped and…


Well, OK they are Smurf Blue but what do I care?

I also ordered special longer, coated, quilting needles, and a good leather thimble for my pushing finger.

I’m good to go!

Now if I could just quit stabbing the thumb on my left hand!  Guess I will have to spring for another thimble and quit using my thumbnail for a needle stop.



Learning a New Craft: needle turned applique

This week I have begun to teach myself how to do needle turned applique.  If you have never heard of this before here is a nice calming video from Deb at Connecting Threads to help you learn.

Connecting Threads can be found  HERE

Points you may want to consider before you start:

  • Start small
  • Start with something easy… something easy is NOT Maple leaves.
  • Don’t teach yourself on a deadline… like say, a gift for a friend.

If you watch the video, follow Deb’s instructions, and my hints above, then you will probably have a fun time learning this beautiful craft.  😉

If you do try it, then please let me know how you liked it!


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!)