Thursday, August 07, 2008

One (Difficult!) Block At A Time

Is this a gorgeous quilt or what?! I ceated only one block, second from the right in the bottom row (close up photo below.) This Baltimore Album style quilt was a 2005 charity project sponsored by the Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy, to raise money for cancer research. The Academy requested applique blocks made from a pattern in any of Elly's books, using a specific background fabric and to include somewhere in the block a specific pink fabric, both of which they provided. Each block was to be dedicated to a friend or relative who died of cancer. Mine was in memory of my cousin, Pam, who died at age 40. Quilters are empathetic and generous people, I've found, and enough blocks were collected to make five quilts! These were auctioned on eBay, and if I remember correctly, this particular quilt was sold for about $5,000.00.

I've been wanting to make myself a Baltimore Album quilt ever since. It's a huge undertaking, and I kept telling myself I needed to improve my skills before I could attempt it. I had purchased most of Elly's books, and I guess I'd hoped to absorb the art of applique via osmosis. (As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that workin' for ya?") Who was I kidding? There's only one way to improve a skill, and that is to practice it, over and over (aka: the hard way!)

Now that I've finished Brenda's applique quilt, I find that I miss having an evening project to work on while I watch TV or chat with my husband. I'm on the machines or at the computer for most of the day, but something about handwork is very soothing and relaxing for me. So... it's time to make the leap from wishing to doing. I spent the last few days choosing patterns for my 25 blocks. I'm going to alternate baskets of flowers with floral wreaths, except for the center block, which will be a peacock. The wide borders will also be appliqued, which is a first for me. If I can manage to complete one and one-half blocks per month, I can show it in the 2010 Ann Arbor Quilt Show. (How's that for not procrastinating?!) Yesterday I auditioned fabrics from my stash, and washed the ones I plan to use. Antique Baltimore Album quilts were usually done in red and green on a white background, often with accents of yellow. I prefer the more modern style, which allows the use of many colors, which is what I plan to do. I've cut out the first pattern, which is a heart shaped, reverse-applique wreath, and have basted it to the first block. I think I understand the next directions, and I'll start stitching as soon as I'm done blogging. I plan to post each block as I finish it, so you can follow my progress. I'm starting with the less complicated blocks and will work my way to the most difficult.Hopefully by the time I get to those I'll know what I'm doing!