Playing in the Leaves

If you’re a Northerner, you might remember playing in the leaves when you were a kid. There’s still great satisfaction in raking the yard and pulling pillowy piles of leaves together, the kinds of piles a child could disappear in. Watch this video to see the fun to be had in the leaf pile.

I’m not doing that. A) it isn’t Fall yet, and B) I’d probably break myself trying to breakdance like that!

But I am playing a little bit, both inspired and motivated by my sister. Recently she asked if I wanted to make 15″ blocks with her. My first reaction was that the blocks were too big and I didn’t know if I could make blocks that size! My second reaction was that we could make blocks that big, as well as some that are 6″, 9″, and 12″, and then make ungridded quilts of multiple block sizes. She bought in to that idea, and we started to make a plan.

I’ve always loved quilts with multiple block sizes. However, aside from dozens of medallion quilts, Stars for Nora is the only other multi-sized block quilt I’ve made.

Stars

Stars for Nora. 42″ square. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The quilts that caught Sister’s fancy were made from maple leaf blocks. Have you ever made them? I made my first maple leaf blocks for a round robin quilt, in 2007, the first year I was in quilt guild. The maple leaves and setting triangles were already assembled when it came to me. I added the squares on point and outer border that you see here.

I didn’t make the 6″ maple leaf blocks in the center. But I was so sure the quilt needed more of them that I made another dozen to send on to the next quilter. (I don’t have a photo of the finished quilt. It was fabulous, and my blocks got used as I hoped.) I also made several to keep for myself. Those maple leaves became placemats for both my sister and me.

Together, she and I also made this table runner. The blocks were mine and she did the setting, and she quilted it. I use it in autumn in my dining room.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also made a quilt for our brother and his wife, in 2012.

It makes me laugh to realize that all the maple leaf quilts I’ve made have been projects with other people. Playing in the leaves is more fun when you have company.

We’re making maple leaf quilts. We had to hash out some parameters for colors, backgrounds, and level of scrappiness. We’ll each make four 15″ blocks, four 12″ blocks, and eight each of 9″ and 6″. Spacers will be required to fit them together, as in Nora’s star quilt above. Later in the Fall she and I will get together and assemble parts into blocks into tops.

This project certainly wasn’t my top priority. I have five unquilted tops with backs, ready to go when I am. I have another several projects already started. I’m inspired to begin a guild challenge project for next July, something I’ll talk about in a different post. (Kerry Sanger, I may be bouncing thoughts off you for that one!) No, this wasn’t my top priority. But it’s got me excited. Inspiration (thank you, Sister!) has dragged Motivation and Energy our of the corners, and chased Focus down to join the group.

Here are my first two 15″ blocks.

Sister and I have different taste in fabric, though it overlaps quite a bit. If I had to guess, she probably hasn’t bought any 1800s repros for a decade. I still find some useful for both “old-fashioned” quilts as well as more contemporary uses. She likes busy background fabrics, and that’s harder for me. The overlap in what we like should make her blocks meld well with mine.

I’m looking forward to fun playing in the leaves.

14 thoughts on “Playing in the Leaves

  1. jeanswenson

    What a great post and such pretty quilts, runners and placemats! It sounds so nice to share the enjoyment of sewing with your sister. My granny taught me to sew, and I have three sisters, but they never got bitten by the sewing bug! 😀

    Reply
  2. Kerry

    Yayyyy! Love the leaves – real and quilty. I’ve fabric set aside ready for maple leaves which is my spare project for my retreat in March. Loved the gorillas playing too – we used to kick up leaves as we walked along – still do! Piling up leaves for the children to play in was definitely fun times. Glad your mojo is returning. 😀

    Reply
  3. KerryCan

    I’d say being excited and inspired and motivated to quilt again is, indeed, your top priority! I’m so glad your sister engaged you on this project. And I’m looking forward to the guild challenge and seeing how I could possibly be of help!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Creative Juice #158 | ARHtistic License

  5. Elizabeth E.

    Stars for Nora is a lovely quilt with all different sizes of stars; I think this idea — in your talented hands — will also yield a fun maple leafs quilt, too. Coming back from the place where you were is at best, an uneven journey. I’m happy to see you arriving at the place of collaborating on a quilt top with your sister.

    Reply
  6. tierneycreates

    That is awesome your sister motivated you to play in the leaves (well with leaf blocks). I enjoyed the gorilla video and the quilt pieces are lovely. When you were away from the quilting blogging world something was definitely missing. Glad you are back 🙂

    Reply

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