One of the things that got me into quilting was a small sample that had been made by a friend in my New Zealand quilting group, Gayle. She had made the sample as a going away present for me, when Rich and I moved back to the States. She showed me some of the other 3D patterns in the book she used and I was mesmerized. I even went so far as to purchase some fabric before leaving New Zealand.
Even though I had planned to make something 3D all along, I had never felt confident enough to try it on my own. So when a Tumbling Blocks class came up at The Pine Needle quilt shop, I signed up right away. The class was excellent and the instructor very helpful. She helped me add to the fabrics that I already had, and weed out some that might not work so well. She also helped me pick out a lovely batik background and border. The pattern that the class used was “A Thankful Harvest” by Marci Baker. The book had several other patterns, and I swear that eventually I will get to each and every one.
Of course, by now I knew that patterns were just a starting point. I decided I wanted something a little different from the class project (as did most of the other students). So, once I had fabric choices made, I made up a bunch of blocks and started laying things out to see how they might look. The process was fun, but to my husband it must have seemed endless. I must have played for days and days, deciding what I wanted my quilt to look like. My saving grace was that the class met weekly, and I didn’t have the instructors help forever! So I finally decided on what I came to think of as a “snowflake look”.
Once all the layout choices were made, the quilt came together pretty quickly. With Marci’s strip piecing technique there are no Y seams. Yay! I learned a lot from taking the class:
- Bias edges can be your friend! Since many of the cuts were on a 60 degree angle, there was sometimes a bit of extra stretch in some of the seams. This actually helped when trying to get all the block points to line up. Instead of it being something to dread, I came to enjoy bias edges!
- Press from the front (unless pressing seams open). In my beginning quilting class, I’m pretty sure they had us iron seams from the back of the quilt where we could see them. In this class I was told to iron from the front, and I’ve had much better luck this way. At least until I got to patterns that called for the seams to be ironed open.
- Contrast, contrast, contrast. I believe the term most people use is “value”. The tumbling blocks pattern will force you to understand whether a fabric reads as a dark, medium or light, all being relative of course. Do it wrong and your quilt won’t be 3D.
I loved doing the Tumbling Blocks pattern and I love the finished quilt. I asked Karen to custom quilt it for me and that was almost as much of a process as the layout. You can see some of the details on her blog here, here, and here. This may be my favorite project to date. It has hung in my home since I finished the binding. The fabrics from New Zealand peek out at me and remind me of my “other home” and fill me with happiness.