Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joy in December 2011

The last block swap of the year can be tricky.  People want winter holiday things but by the time you get them back, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa et al. will more or less be over.  Also, it can be challenging coming up with something that works for all of those.  So here's hoping JOY works; this year we will be making our first ever word blocks.

I picked JOY because it only has three letters...& because it seems like it ought to be universal, regardless of what holiday you do or do not observe.  Finally, it could work for any time of year.

You may need as few as one fabric (but probably more, depending on how you want to make your letters), & that first fabric should read-as-solid or at least any pattern on it should not make it hard to read the letters J, O, & Y as this will be the background fabric.  As for your letters, you can use different fabric for each letter OR all the same OR no fabric at all if you embroider them.  You can piece the letters (my example is below, also numerous examples in the book Word Play Quilts which is my new addiction) or you can applique them or embroider them (probably the only way you would use just the one background fabric) by hand or with an embroidery machine.

Instead of finished dimensions I am going to give you more-like guidelines: the block should be no smaller than 6.5" x 6.5" unfinished (being sure to keep ALL the text WELL inside of 6.25") or it might be longer, & maybe even a bit taller, but try to keep it close to 6.5" if you can.  That being the case, the height of the letters probably should not be more than 5.5" (to keep it at at least 1/2" from the top & bottom edges), but the lengths will be variable.  In other words most-if-not-all of the blocks will not be square or even uniform, leaving you with a block that is 6.5" x 6.5" OR ~6.5" x  >6.5". I know, it sounds odd, but I have seen irregular word blocks work.

This means you will probably want to add blocks of the holiday or not-holiday of your own choosing, size-up the smaller blocks with snazzy borders or whatever in your own quilt top.  When you make your own quilt, you might decide you want to add some words of your own (for myself, I am thinking of making PEACE in different languages & a few might find their way over to my JOY quilt). You could also expand your own JOY blocks with prefixes & suffixes to ENJOY or JOYFUL or JOY in other languages or JOY in phrases such as JOY TO THE WORLD or maybe even JOY phrases in other languages such as JOYEUX NOEL.

So, to be clear, the block you send will be 6.5" unfinished/6" finished by not less than 6.5" unfinished/6" finished & will say JOY... or Joy ...or joy.

Because there are slews of different ways to do this, I am offering my own work as an example only.  I lifted it more-or-less straight from Word Play Quilts (which I own & I highly recommend as one of the few quilting books you will always wish you did own; I even requested my library by it which they did & it has been checked out ever since).  If you cannot bring yourself to buy yet another quilt book for yourself, you can find free examples on-line herehere & here & here & many, many, many more.

I began with the J.  Keeping in mind the entire block should be no taller than 6.5" unfinished & all the text no taller than 5.5" finished, I started with two 4.5" x 1.5" pieces of fabric, one background & one letter fabric. To that, I added a 1.5" piece of the letter fabric across the bottom & a 1.5" strip of the back ground fabric to the right.  To keep all the letters more or less the same size, I then began my O.

The O is almost too easy:  two sets of two strips of letter fabric, one of them 1"5 x 5.5" & the other 1.5" square,  & a piece of back ground fabric for the center 1.5" x

Finally the Y.  The base was also easy-peasy 1.5" wide of letter with a strip of the background fabric on either side.  The top of the Y was harder, but I just sort of whacked around until I had this one.Yes, yes the Y in the first photo is not the Y in the following photos; it looked shtumpik so I put that one aside & made another in the exact same way, I just cut it down to size later.

Because it will all be bordered by straight cuts of the background fabric, I did not worry for a moment about the bias edges, but as it happens I did not have any.  All of my strips were 1.5" (including the kerns or the spaces between the letters) & all of my letters 5.5" tall.  I added a strip to top & bottom once the letters were all together.  Again, this is how I made my JOY; you can make yours as you please, so long as it is 6.5" tall & not less than 6.5" wide, keeping all text more or less within the 6" of the center (so that even with a generous 1/4" seam allowance no one needs to worry their letters will get cut off.).

As always, blocks are due (not postmarked by but due) the last Saturday of the swap month:  Saturday, December 31st.  Blocks will be swapped on the following Sunday (yes, New Years Day) & mailed back on or before the next Wednesday.  The easiest way to join is to log into Facebook & search for the Quilt Block Swap Group.  If you do not want to join Facebook, leave a message here with your e-mail information & I will send you the address for swapping.


  1. I think I might have to join this swap--is there a deadline for signing up or do I just need to get blocks to you by the end of the year?

    To be clear, all words must contain the letters J-O-Y. So the French version of Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, is OK, but the French word for joy, joie, is not. Joie de Vivre is a joyous, happy, recongizable french expression that would be fun ... if allowed.

    Here's another example of JOY--a fiber postcard I made for a challenge (based on one of the Project Runway challenges) a few years ago. The center of the O is open--a cutout that went through all the layers of the postcard

  2. would you believe you are the SECOND person to ask about JOY-alternates?!?!?! The post just went up! Anyway, I think we should stick with JO Y as-is for now. It is the first time we have done a word, so I am trying to keep it simple for this go-round. Get your five blocks to me by the last SAT in December (12/31 as it happens)& include a self -addressed envelop blah-blah blah.

    Oh if you are curious, the other question was can I write JOY in braille using trapunto. What a great idea! I nixed that one, too.