Block Therapy

When I was a little girl, I didn’t play with dolls. I played with blocks and Lincoln logs and Legos. My siblings and I made forts and stepping stones and weapons with those great big cardboard blocks! When I was a little older I loved drawing floor plans, imagining the kind of home I’d have when I was grown up and rich. It would be a castle of magnificent proportions, with long hallways of rooms and secret stairways and a great hall for dining. The same kind of geometric thinking that led me to those pleasures also led me to quilting.

Over the last year and some, my quilts have almost all been medallions. I love medallions, but I love block quilts, too. The repetition of shape is soothing, both to view and to create.

I will make many more medallions. But the way I like to make them, using my Design-As-You-Go methods, they require intense focus.

To gear up for that again, I’m doing some block therapy. Every month my local guild requests members make a particular block. Blocks are used to make donation quilts that are distributed within our community. Usually it’s a pretty easy pattern. This month the request is for Shoofly blocks. To me, these are one of the cheeriest blocks there is, perfect for my therapy.

To combine block building with stash busting, I chose two colors I haven’t used much lately: bright pink and navy blue. I have the first seven done and have started cutting for more. In total I’ll make at least ten and maybe twelve.

I enjoy the transformation of fabric bits and pieces into something useful and beautiful. The rhythm of pressing, cutting, stitching, pressing, stitching, pressing is soothing. I don’t choose to do all my quilting this way, as I enjoy the hard brain work of more challenging quilts. But for now, this is nourishing and comforting.

The first four.

Block therapy.

Which blocks do you make as your therapy blocks?



13 thoughts on “Block Therapy

  1. Kathy Aho in MInnesota

    Oddly my therapy blocks are the ones I feel great about “bringing back to life” which are orphan blocks from estate sales an flea markets. I like to spend time arranging them to become something somewhat cohesive when actually they were found in many different sales by several different quilters. After a summer of thrifting and flea marketing, etc, I have enough now to do a few of these new-from-old-block tops. Something to look forward to this Fall/Winter. Have fun with your blocks! Build something beautiful! I know you will!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I love old blocks too, but I haven’t made much effort to find them. I found some badly made feedsack 4-patches a couple of years ago. the fabric was wonderful but the blocks were bad. I carefully took them apart to save the fabric and used every millimeter of it I could.

      Blessings on you and those who preserve our past so lovingly!

  2. farmquilter

    Those blocks are so cute!! Love the print fabric – so interesting! I make log cabin blocks for stress relief 🙂

  3. KerryCan

    From your recent posts, it sounds like block therapy is just the thing for getting yourself relaxed and back to your home life! I like the fabric combo!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve been enjoying it. Not a lot of mental output, once the fabric decision has been made. YES, that was the hardest part!

      When I’m done with these, I think I’ll make a few maple leaf blocks. And for those I have a lot of 2.5″ squares already cut. Picking through them is fun, too.

  4. Thread crazy

    Hmm….oddly enough I like sitting and making some pinwheels and them combining them with half square triangles. I like your shoo fly block and fabrics you choose – great relaxing color!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, I think pink is relaxing even when very bright. I’m enjoying these. Today I’ll make a few more. Then I might be ready to switch gears again.

      Pinwheels — for years I resisted them because of all the seams coming together in the center. But for almost all that time, I’ve pressed the seams on the hst open, which mitigates the problem anyway. Maybe I should do a lot of pinwheels soon. 🙂

  5. Yanic A.

    For me, since I’ve just discovered paper piecing, I’ve found myself drawn to it when I just want to quilt without thinking about it. I make a lot of mug rugs from paper pieced blocks. Pillows as well. To get a project done and finished in half a day cheers me up. 🙂 Your blocks are beautiful.

    PS, if I have to choose a “block” block, I’m an altered 9 patch kinda girl. I always have charms hanging around and it’s fun to twist and turn the cut pieces to make them visually pleasing.

  6. Joanna Burgarino

    I don’t know if I have a go-to therapy block, but Log Cabins and Nine-Patch blocks make me happy. Once I had tiny leftover NIne-Patches that I sewed onto the ends of strips in order to make big Log Cabin blocks out of them. Those ended up pretty cool … best of both worlds!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That sounds like fun! I just dug through my drawer of orphan blocks and cut squares. Not many orphan blocks but there was a small number of 3″ 9-patches. I don’t remember making them but … can’t think of where else they would have come from!


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