A few weeks ago I started toying with the idea of a holiday-themed quilt block swap. Generally I hate these. I am not shy about telling people why-as a person who observes none of the religious holidays that have gone mainstream here in the US, except maybe Christmas & that one just in a look-at-the-pretty-lights kind of way, imagine how disappointed I was when I participated in a large swap themed SPRING & got nothing but indisputably Easter blocks. Yes, yes Easter does happen in Spring, but so do so many other things. & while a nice flower basket block or a some birds (Bird Trap!) would work in an Easter quilt, there is nothing a person who does not celebrate Easter can do with a blocks of crosses & embroidered "Bathed in the Blood of the Lamb". Except donate it to a Christian quilting circle. Which is what I did.
So. There I was thinking how to make a holiday block swap while not feeling like I am cutting people out, either because they didn't want a quilt centered around a holiday they don't celebrate OR because they would rather make a quilt about something they do celebrate & then it came to me: what about a neighborhood? This epiphany was a long time coming. The pieces have been there, rolling around for a while, but when Block Lotto made I-SPY houses earlier this summer is all rolled together: I can decorate my own house to celebrate whatever I want & so can my neighbor. The result will be something like the town I grew up in: Christmas trees & menorahs, sometimes both in the windows of the houses. Or it might look like the neighborhood we drive thru to get home now, where one house has a HUGE crèche in the front...pasture & a giant wooden sign that says "Jesus is the reason for the season" & the house across the street has an equally large sign that says "Reason for the season: Axial Tilt". It's a fun town. & the point is, it is your house, celebrate what you want & realize the house next door will do the same. Or not, as holiday neutral, just seasonal houses are also acceptable.
Enough about that, here are the rules:
- The complete unfinished block should be 10.5" by 10.5. Please make sure decorative elements are AT LEAST 1/2 inch away from the outside border, so nothing gets chopped when the blocks are sewn together. Please limit decorative elements to those that can be easily machine washed. In other words, no paints or that kind of thing. Applique or embroidery should be fine so long as it is stable & washable (so no silk ribbon embroidery, etc.).
- Each house should consist of a façade & at least one glimpse inside, either via window or door or what-have-you. The house must have an exterior of some kind. You can put your house at the bottom of your block & make the background all sky or you can put a strip of lawn at the front with the background all garden, as you please.
- Your house does not have to be a house, it can be any building you might see in a neighborhood: a hospital, a fire station, an apartment building OR it could be any house, anywhere: a teepee or yurt, a houseboat. Any shelter of any kind in any landscape in which a person might voluntarily or otherwise spend a holiday. Yes, this could include mangers. Or prisons. Or luxury hotels.
- Your house should have a reference to some holiday or event in DECEMBER, somewhere on earth. Christmas: yes, Chanukah: yes, Kwanzaa: yes, Solstice: yes, New Years Eve: yes... BUT there are also many other celebrations, observations & anniversaries in December. Here in the US, there is anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Massachusetts, the Trail of Tears, the 13th amendment was ratified, prohibition ended, there is Pearl Harbor Day, the actual original Boston Tea Party took place in December & so on. Outside the US we have the Battle of the Bulge, Nobel prizes are awarded, Boxing Day, Feast of Stephen, National Day of Reconciliation in South Africa, the Emperor's birthday in Japan, the first day of summer in some places, the first day of winter in all the others. & this is just the tip of the iceberg. Your house is your house, decorate (or not) to celebrate what you will so long as it takes place in DECEMBER.
- We are swapping in sets of FIVE. You should make SIX blocks, keep one & send FIVE. All of your blocks of one set should be roughly the same. Because this is free-form-ish, there are likely to be differences, but they should all represent the same holiday(s) & be constructed on more or less along the same idea. If you make one trailer home celebrating Christmas in the tropics, you should make SIX trailer homes celebrating Christmas in the tropics.
- I am asking EVERYONE to pin a slip of paper or use a post-it note (please no staples!) that has their name & the holiday being observed. Like "Beth Jones, Summer Solstice" or "Mary Smith, Winter Solstice". These should be affixed to the block in some way (making teeny post-it notes ideal) as they will go with your block to the person who receives your block.
- I will create a sign-up for ten people, & after that is full, add spaces for the next ten amp; so on. You can sign up more than once, but only once in each group of ten. Each of your block sets should be different; either the building or the landscape or the holiday should be different from your previous set. I will leave sign-up open until the last day of JUNE 2014, so there is no reason to rush. In fact, it is my hope that people will sign-up, complete a set, only if they get inspired sign-up & complete a 2nd set.
This Chanukah house from the October 2010 Funky Town post would need something more like land underneath &/or sky in the background (it could sit at the bottom of the block & have just sky), but otherwise works fine. It is NOT my entry into this swap, it has long since gone to a different home, but it should give you an idea.
The I-SPY house blocks I made for Block Lotto would need to be bigger. & maybe have some holiday or anti-holiday themed window content, but they would also work. Keep in mind, it is not the house (or building) that needs to be bigger, it is the block. You can make a smaller house & do most of your December stuff on the outside. Another place for ideas might be the Block Lotto I-SPY neighborhood that coalesced the whole thing for me.
There is always the traditional house quilt block. This one is a bit big, but you could size it down. Or tease out the smaller house elements from this one. I really like the outside trees in this block. Or just Google/Bing whatever & look at other whole neighborhoods.
Sign up is required for this swap & this being managed over in the Quilt Block Swap group on Facebook, just ask to join.