What is it all about? I think when most of us saw it, we thought it would be a block swap on a grander scale than most block swaps. We signed up via Facebook and met Kim Andrews who was organising the project. She asked for examples of block names which we duly supplied. I wondered if these were the blocks we were going to make but I was wrong. More and more signed up and it seemed as though there was a new person and a new country to welcome to the group every day. Excitement and numbers grew until there were hundreds of potential participants
The block names; Balkan Puzzle, Bear Paw, Courthouse Steps and so on were to be the names of groups of twelve people from different countries – in the end all women. We would not be making these blocks at all! What happened next was exciting for some and a shock to others – we were to design and make our own unique block to be named after us! Some dropped out, not willing or maybe confident enough to take on the challenge. I thought it was great, but I have an arts (and science) background and even had the first part of the project hanging on the wall already – an inspiration board, covered in the things that inspire or intrigue me; pictures of friends and family, clippings from magazines of colourful things, postcards and fabric. This was to be our starting point and was posted on Facebook for all to see. Many took up the challenge and working in separate pages for each group or the main page we were able to get feedback, criticism and encouragement from everyone. Some were new to quilting and could learn from some very experienced members who were able to offer encouragement gained from years of teaching.
I won’t go into all the subsequent details, as the teaching program belongs to Kim Andrews, but suffice to say, it led those who had never designed anything like it before to a successful conclusion if they stayed the course. Some dropped out as they didn’t realise how long it would take and had to leave because of time or family issues, including bereavements. There was much support in the groups and new friendships were forged. Some have even managed to meet up and share their stories with the rest of us.
Groups were collapsed and consolidated to try and get them back to twelve in number or groups made their own decisions after discussing the best way to proceed. Poor Kim must have had a headache as she tried to do this all the while studying and working. My own group, Balkan Puzzle, decided to save her some work and some members said they would make two blocks to make up the numbers. I have most of them now and will show them off in another post. I showed four designs to my group and they chose this one and it is based on my love of colour and water. It is a river of colour flowing out from a single source in colours agreed by the group.
TGQP has created friendships around the World as well as many new quilt blocks. Parcels have been posted back and forth and soon the unique quilts will be made. Even if groups have the same blocks, the layout will be up to the individual. But it is more than that. The initial difficulties in attempting something new have been overcome and confidence has grown as a result.
The quilts will have individual labels for each block so that quilt historians will not have to write ‘maker unknown’! I am sure they will be treasured and kept for many years as the number old quilts from centuries past testifies. They are the very antithesis of our throw-away society where branding is the defining criteria for some to make their purchases. Quilts are often made with a particular person or event in mind. Most of mine have been for the birth of a new baby in the family, Christmas or birthdays. My Mum was adamant that her quilt should not go to the charity shop when she died as it was a family heirloom. I have that quilt now and will pass it on in time
This made me think about those women in ages past who made quilts sometimes from fabrics bought especially for one particular project or those who reused dresses, curtains, even sacking and old blankets to make something practical but still beautiful. My second block was more about our planet and how we can do our bit to re-use, recycle or re-purpose so the next block was improvised and used the scrap strips I keep from other projects. Consequently, each member will get a slightly different block. I balanced out the blue Earth with the yellow Sun – both are the same size, as to us they are equally important.
Even thread wasn’t wasted as in between each round I put together a few tumblers for my Leaders and Enders Challenge so that there was always something under the needle to continually chain piece. That particular quilt is made up of fabrics that had been in my stash for a while for various reasons as detailed here. The details of the challenge can be found over at Quiltville
There are two pieces sewn together under the needle right now from another project – the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2015. Again using up all those little pieces so there is little waste The details of how to join in are at Super Scrappy
Years from now will anyone have the bottle of perfume or aftershave you gave them for Christmas? If you make them a gift chances are that they will not only remember it they will still have it.