block 73 thrifted city sampler

Making Time & A Thrifted City Sampler Update

I’ve finally decided that the day isn’t going to arrive when I have a window of “free” time where I’m just sitting around wondering what I could do. The past few months have been really busy and exciting with a lot of new opportunities and projects, and while a lot of big projects are finally wrapped up–the photography for the Quilter’s Planner is complete and the amazing planner is now available for sale, Quilt Theory has been announced and our premier line of pattern cards have been released, I just finished and mailed a quilt sample for a pattern that will appear in the February 2017 issue of Love, Patchwork & Quilting magazine, I’m manning the Quilter’s Planner Instagram feed and leading its (and my) very first Sew Along–there seems to always be one more thing. I’ve finally decided that I’m going to make time to work on little side projects, AND I’m going to make time to blog regularly again so that I can share my projects, process, and inspiration with you. You can hold me accountable for taking time to sew for me, okay?

thrifted city sampler progressTo kick off this new resolution of making time for my own sewing on top of my more business-directed projects, I made three more blocks as part of the #100days100blocks challenge hosted by Angie from Gnome Angel. I think I left off around block 22 and the challenge is now heading into the 80s, but as I do with most projects, I set my goal low and I’m happy with just picking up again and making whatever blocks I can. As you may or may not remember, I am making my blocks entirely out of old and worn or thrifted garments, including a black leather skirt, some wool slacks, some cotton-poly blend men’s shirts, and an old pair of corduroy maternity pants. It has been *really* fun sewing with different materials, and with a mostly grey-scale color palette, I’m really focusing on textures within the blocks.

The environmental impact of our actions and the philosophy promoted through Sherri Lynn Wood’s #makedoquilt project are a large part of what spurred me to use only thrifted materials in these blocks, and so I’m presenting each block on Instagram photographed with some plant or natural phenomenon. In each description, I am sharing some information about the species or some interesting fact about its relationship with the rest of the environment. My hope is that by learning more about the world around you, you will feel more invested in preserving and improving it, or at the very least, minimizing damage done to it. This is truly a fun project that combines three of my passions: quilting, the environment, and photography.  Since it has been far too long since I’ve shared my creative process with you, I thought I’d share my three latest blocks and descriptions here, too. All blocks are from Tula Pink’s City Sampler, 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book, and so I’m calling my quilt the Thrifted City Sampler (#thriftedcitysampler).

block 73 thrifted city samplerBlock 73: old wool trousers, thrifted cotton-poly men’s shirt

Remember the milkweed from Block 15? Well here it is in all its seed dispersing glory! After a fun chat with Sharon from Sharon Holland Designs the other day about the amazing seed dispersal technique of jewelweed, I decided to make these next posts all about seed dispersal. As with any organism, the continuation of the species is an extremely important aspect–almost THE main purpose–of life. Since plants can’t move, they’ve developed some really clever ways to ensure their potential offspring (aka seeds) get spread far and wide and/or have a good chance of success.

Milkweed seeds are attached to a thick, light weight fluff tuft that, once matured, emerges from the dried, cracked open seed pod and is carried by the wind. Wind dispersal!! This helps spread the species into new areas, giving the species as a whole a greater chance to survive and thrive. Can you name another common plant that uses wind seed dispersal??

block 72 thrifted city samplerBlock 72: thrifted black leather skirt, pink cotton women’s capris, my husband’s worn-through 100% cotton slacks.

We are fully in the most drab time of year in Maine. The gorgeous leaves are mostly brown and dropped, the flowers are in their winter form or gone, everything is finding dormancy. But plant identification is still not only possible, but fun! I hope you enjoy finding the beauty in winter weeds with me.

These asters have a small tuft that allows for wind dispersal, but they also use power in numbers to their advantage. A super hardy weed, asters produce many flowers, approximately 300 individual flowers per flower head, with many seeds resulting. The sheer number of seeds helps promote the success of their species. Paired with the wind, it’s no wonder there are asters everywhere!

block 77 thrifted city samplerBlock 77: thrifted cotton-poly men’s shirt, old cotton slacks, worn men’s shirt, black leather skirt.

Another fun installment in the “amazing seed dispersal” adventure is burdock. Burdock (Arctium) is equipped with hooks and spines that latch onto any creature passing by too closely (just like Velcro). The creature continues walking until the spikey, itchy seed pod irritates him enough, spurring him to remove it and toss it aside, hopefully (for the burdock) on fertile ground. This allows the seeds to spread far, far further than a stationary plant could reach. While this is a super cool seed dispersal trait, anyone who has “fixed” her children’s coat, hair, and wool mittens after the child has discovered a burdock plant fully understands the annoyance the poor deer, bear, foxes, coyotes, and other creatures must feel toward this and similar plants! (Note that I was VERY careful not to let my block touch the seeds when taking this photo. Those barbs are sharp and definitely would result in pulls in the fabric.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these blocks and their accompanying environmental tidbits. I’m looking forward to updating you on the other small side projects I’ve been working on between deadline projects, AND hope to even finish some of the many (oh, embarrassingly many) works in progress that are stuck in the “soooo close to finished but temporarily abandoned pile”.  I have so much fun to share with you! Hope you’ve been well, and I’m looking forward to being more present in this space again.


14 thoughts on “Making Time & A Thrifted City Sampler Update”

  1. I smiled at the image of you sitting around and wondering what you could do, lol. It never happens around here, either! Your blocks are lovely and I really enjoy all the tidbits of information you share with them.


  2. I believe you sell yourself short by saying you set your goals low. We all do what we can, when we can. That is life. Your work is very lovely, interesting-I would think like you and most women and people. I’m enjoying your story. We’ll done.


  3. This is my favorite of your projects! Thanks for sharing more detail. It combines many things I love as well, quilting and nature. I am inspired by you!


  4. I so enjoyed your post and your lovely photos. What a great idea to use old/thrifted fabrics for your blocks. I always seem to enjoy pictures of quilts/quilt blocks when they are in an outdoor setting. I also thank you for the facts on seed dispersal of the plants, very interesting.


  5. Even if extra hours were granted each day or a day added to the week, I believe the only way to “find time” is to make it. I am glad you are recommitting to making the time to blog and I look forward to catching up with you here!


  6. I love getting to see all your blocks together, stunning! You are rocking that limited color palette to the fullest. I can understand feeling like there is no set time for the things we enjoy anymore. Like you said, we have to make time, which is easier said than done most days.


  7. I just love the photos of your grey blocks! Beautiful! Although, your photo with the burrs in it made me flinch a little with memories of the time my Sheltie ran through a patch of them and I didn’t realize it until he crawled into my bed that night. OUCH!


  8. I have sewn my dad’s and husband’s shirts, but I love the variety of textures in this. Adding the pink capri pants lifts everything.
    You can have your revenge on spiky burdock by eating it. Burdock root is a common ingredient in Japanese food. Yummo!


  9. Oh, wow, Kitty… a big, big, big ‘ol congratulations on your whirlwind month! Even though it gets here a little later than in the US, I’ll be especially looking forward to my February issue of LPQ!

    Yes, yes… I know – pick me!(hand raised) One of my favorite weeds – the dandelion (Löwenzahn, literally translated “lion tooth”) If it makes you feel any better, Northern Germany is not only drab, but rainy this time of year. But I have to say, that I still see the beauty in all those thistles, pods, and other funny looking objects after the bloom has faded. Do you know asparagus blooms? They have the most delightful and delicate little red berries this time of year and soft feathery leaves. (a whole field right behind my house!)

    Well, the great thing about quilting is that it is not a race… a slower pace allows you to actually enjoy the process I think even more. Still love the concept of use what you have!


  10. I can hardly express how very much I love this project of yours. The aesthetic is beautiful, the photography is stunning, the environmental lessons are informative, and I’m so inspired by your thrifted fabrics! I’ve been trying to be a little more conscientious in my fabric choices, and for reasons that seem even more critical now, I’m determined to make more changes. I’m SO happy that I met you briefly at QuiltCon in Austin as I love following your blog (and vicariously visiting your gorgeous state since my daughter just graduated from college in Maine and we won’t get there as often now). Thanks for taking the time to share.


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