2018 Finishes

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Challenge Block

Each year, our quilt guild holds a block challenge contest. The rules of the block this year were to make a block that would finish to nine inches that had at least a nest or a birdhouse on it that was pieced or needle turned appliqué. We all purchased a nine and a half inch square of the background fabric for a dollar! Birdhouses in Springtime was the theme.

Drawing of the block
The finished blocks become property of the guild and the committee chair(s) makes a quilt out of the blocks that becomes an opportunity quilt for another year. The proceeds from ticket sales of the opportunity quilt support a charity that the guild members determine. This year our recipient is the Silver Star Search and Rescue. You can see the quilt here.

I've participated in the contest six of the last seven years. I'm always impressed to see the creativity of the members when the blocks are displayed at the guild's quilt show. Attendees have the opportunity to vote for their favorite block and the top block wins a cash award and the block is made into a pin for the following year. Second and third place also win a cash award. I've been pleased that my block plays well with the others!

This year, I noticed that I was able to design a block without as much trepidation as in past years. Drawing is difficult for me. I often don't achieve the depth perception on paper like I see in my head! Inspiration for this block came from three places in our yard.

We have a clematis that the birds build a nest in each spring. The clematis is outside the front door so once the eggs hatch, the mama is protective of the space. Sometimes, we can't use the front door because the mama dive bombs anyone around the nest! The clematis inspired the nest in my block.

I drew the egg oversized and oriented it vertically.  I drew in a few "cracked" lines on the egg.  I even added a vein for my leaves. I was attempting a whimsical feel to the block! I wanted the design to be simple and I was absolutely shocked that my results were close to what was in my head!

Fabrics for the block
We have two long narrow windows on either side of our wood stove. Outside one of these windows, is a maple tree that has some great shaped branches and outside the other window is a deciduous azalea bush that has the most beautiful orange/gold flowers that appear before the leaves each spring. The view outside the windows was the inspiration for the rest of the block.

I was thinking about the beautiful blue that is a robin's egg and I arranged my fabrics around the egg! In the photo, I used the "wrong" side of the blue fabric that doesn't show the sea shell design for the egg.

Block in process
I chose darker fabrics because I wanted the emphasis on the egg. I appliquéd the parts of the leaves together and then I appliquéd the whole leaf to the background.

Nice leaf . . .just too blah for the block
Sometimes, a leaf fabric I thought was going to work, didn't! But other than cutting a few holes in my fabrics to get the colors I wanted, the process went quickly.

Finished block 9 1/2" square
In the end, it was a fun block to construct. The leaves look like the wind is lifting them. I decided that the egg fabric looked enough like it could be cracking so I didn't embroider the cracked lines.

My applique stitches have improved!

At the quilt show, I took several photos of the submitted blocks.
The creativity of the members' who made these blocks is amazing. 
I had a difficult time voting for my favorite!
Some repeats in this photo; but, I wanted to "capture" them all!

I thought the nest and bird in #22 was so lifelike, #24 cactus was fun;
#18 the garden scene above it was amazing with the intricate embroidery stitches!
The winning blocks (1st, 2nd and 3rd places) will be revealed at the guild meeting tomorrow night.


  1. Good luck! I love how your block turned out!

  2. they all look wonderful ... I think no. 9 would get my vote xx

    1. Diane, you are much too kind! Thank you! :)

  3. It would be very difficult to chose 'one' to vote for! I like them all.

    1. Luann, it was difficult to choose! I did want to vote for them ALL!!! They are going to make a wonderful quilt.

  4. Your block turned out beautifully, and I think the finished quilt will be wonderful! And gosh, #8 and #18 are both pretty competitive! It looks like they both pieced their "quilts" AND did the applique and embroidery. It must be quite a rivalry!

    1. Monica, I totally agree with you! Those blocks were amazing with the details!

    2. Monica, 18 was cool too! The winners are going to be revealed next month!

  5. Thanks so much for taking great pictures of the blocks. It was fun to see how your block developed. I liked it a lot! Virginia

    1. Virginia, I had fun taking the block from inception to finish. It was a stress free process!


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