Friday, January 31, 2014

Putting Pieces Together

The start of a new year makes for a good opportunity to develop some new skills. For me, it's probably no surprise to anyone that a number of the new skills that I have learned this year related to quilting. Three weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending a 2-day quilt retreat hosted by Village Dry Goods in Brigham City, Utah. This year's teacher was Pam Buda whose quilt designs and fabrics are rooted in prairie life of the 1800s. You can see more of her quilting designs and fabrics at her website: Heartspun Quilts. Pam's Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Club series feature stories and quilt designs from this era of history. Needless to day, these themes resonate with me and my favorite quilting styles.

Here is a short summary of the projects and skills that I developed during the course of the retreat. Part of what I enjoyed the most about these projects was the process of organizing the pieces together and then combining them into patterns that were much more than the sum of the individual parts. 

The first day, we worked on a pattern called Settlers Puzzle. You can see from the picture to the left that the early stages of putting the pieces were a bit tedious and not exactly remarkable at first glance. As we continue on, however, triangles are added, strips are sewn together, and a small block is completed.
After four small blocks were completed, it was time to arrange them together to create the larger pattern that will be repeated throughout this quilt. Here is a picture of how mine turned out. When I purchased the fabric for this project, I hadn't fully thought about the consequences of the strip pattern. As things turned out, I was rather pleased with the subpattern that was created when the four blocks were put together. What do you think?
Part of the fun of participating in classes like these is seeing the fabric choices of the other ladies and how they work together. Here is a picture of the blocks that our class created. I like how some chose to reverse the light and dark fabrics within their quilt blocks. You can also see that one participant created her block with a variety of red fabrics as the dark color rather than the same one.

The second day saw the class working on techniques for improving our accuracy using some of Pam's "make it bigger, cut it down" tips. Part of the fun of this class was seeing fundamental quilt block components such as half square triangles, four-patch blocks, quarter square triangles, and square-in-a-squares come together to make the center block for a lap-sized quilt. The center block is featured in the picture below. See if you can identify the smaller subunits within this block. 
My final "new skill" for the month of January has been learning how to use a rather nifty triangle ruler. I came across this ruler at Quilter's Haven in Bountiful and then ended up buying fabric for a baby quilt so that I could test it out. The picture below shows how you cut strips of fabric to the specified height of the triangle and then rotate the direction of the ruler to cut the triangles.

To create the blocks for this particular quilt, you sew a smaller white and a larger colored triangle together like this. You then sew two 2-triangle units together to create a 4-triangle unit.
The next step is sewing two 4-triangle units together and trimming the block so that it is a square. 

For the particular pattern that I used, I also added a machine appliqu├ęd square in the center as you can see on the picture of the completed quilt top. I am excited to get it to the quilter and then to its yet-to-be-born owner.
Arranging pieces within a quilt has parallels within both the Old and New Testaments as to how God designates roles and responsibilities for His people. While some pieces in a quilt may catch a person's eye more than others, each is essential to bring harmony and completeness to the quilt. Even so, each believer is essential to the unity of the body.
In the book of Numbers, God assigns specific responsibilities to the families of the tribe of Levi in relation to the service of the tabernacle. Some families had  responsibility for the furnishings of the tabernacle associated with worship. Others were responsible for the tent pegs and cords - not the most glamorous of roles. At the same time, without these individuals to carry the tend pegs and cords, the tabernacle would not have had a supporting structure where worship could occur.
In the New Testament, Paul reminds believers that while we are all baptized into one body by one Spirit, we are many members of that body, each with a distinct role and function. Paul also reminds believers that the purpose of these different roles was so "… that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another," 1 Corinthians 12:25.