Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Red Cross Blocks

Cutting begins on the next baby quilt and the nephew's birthday block
More September deadlines looming - time for another birthday block for my late husband's nephew. He turns 18 this week, starting his senior year, applying to colleges with an eye toward pursuing a nursing career. He's been taking a few Emergency Medical Technician courses so I was looking for a way to feature that. My addled brain could only think of images like stethoscopes that I could fuse on a background, but that seemed like a cop-out. I always feel like I should do some piecing on his block, so I turned to my Electric Quilt Block Base program for help. It's the computerized version of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns - a book that I own but is not as easy to search through as it doesn't subdivide into keyword search categories such as occupations to find the perfect themed block. Neither does the book offer patterns. In Block Base you can set the block size and print templates or rotary cutting instructions. I don't use it much anymore, but when I do, it is such a wonderful tool. In this case, my search on nurses popped up many variations on the red cross block. Ironic, don't you think, as this is the same block my niece-in-law wants in the quilt for her baby? Can't believe I had the answer to my nephew's block right in front of me and never made the connection.

This particular variation really appealed to me with that added detail in blue - the very school colors as the college he hopes to attend. I always hesitate when using the cutting guide that Block Base generates, sometimes double-checking dimensions, but I have yet to have it be off. It won't tell you sequence of sewing but I'm experienced enough that it's not a problem to break it down on my own. If you look closely, you can see I've penciled in some arrows on the colored printout of the block. That's a trick I learned from a book called "Press For Success" - mapping out ahead of time which direction to press seams for the least bulk. Not every seam can go the direction you want, sometimes you have to make compromises when there's more than one intersection along a seam, but it sure speeds up the process at the ironing board when you have something to refer to. This block went together well and I had so much fun getting back into some traditional piecing.

The Red Cross Block

Neither one of us quite believes that I've been making him a block for every birthday for this long. I think I meant to go to 20, but I am ready to have the blocks returned to be made into a quilt. This actually works out perfectly; if I get my act together, I can have it ready for a graduation gift, having added a block to celebrate that milestone and one last one as a label of sorts. I've kept pictures and swatches from each block to refer to each year (you can see the folder open in the top picture) in an effort to keep the blocks somewhat harmonious, no one block awkwardly sticking out from the others, but I can't be sure. I may have created a monster that will be a pain to make work, or I may have created a lovely memory of one man's life that will go together with ease. I'm really  hoping for the latter.


The Inside Stori said...

What a great design for a young man. He's sure to appreciate this very special gift from you!

Michele Matucheski said...

I'm am so impressed with your record-keeping of this block-a-year quilt! And that you kept at it for 20 years! He'll love it!