Lighthouse

Amish women have a custom (I was going to say “charming,” but I can’t decide if it is or not), whereby they add a small imperfection to their quilts because they say, “Only God is perfect.” 

My grandmother taught me to piece simple nine-patch quilt blocks when I was so little, every stitch was what we in the business call a “toe catcher.”  I pieced my first quilt top on my own in 1995, and between then and now I’ve made a bunch of quilts.  I have never, not once, had to add an imperfection; they crop up just fine on their own.

Thanks to Second Janet*, I’m part of an online Bible study called “Quilting the Names of Jesus.”  It’s based on Ann Spangler’s book Praying the Names of Jesus, which I highly recommend.  Each week, for 26 weeks, we study a different name and, (this is the cool part) make a quilt block that symbolizes that name. 

 For me, a study doesn’t get any better  – contemplative, creative, hands-on. 

 But this week, the name was “Light of the World,” and the block is one called “Lighthouse.”  I just want to say that, despite years of experience and a certain amount of competence, I have discovered that it would be easier to make a real Fresnel lens out of ice cubes than piece this block.

Yes, it is paper-pieced.  (That means, for you non-quilty types, that one sews the pieces directly on a paper template to make sure the points match.  It works about two-thirds of the time, if you are insanely careful.  The rest of the time, you get something that looks like Craft Day at the Sunny Hours Nursing Home.)

Paper piecing should make this block easier, and I suppose it does, but I just spent three hours putting together a SIX INCH SQUARE, and the points STILL DON’T MATCH!  Sorry.  I’m screaming.  I don’t think a Bible study on the names of Jesus should make me scream like this.  Never mind that I had to enlarge the pattern by fifty percent just to make it match the first square.  Never mind that the enlargement meant the seam allowances for this block were 3/8 of an inch instead of the usual quarter-inch.  Never mind that the red borders would match or the blue triangles would line up, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to make them both work . . .

(Just as a note, the fact that some of the red bands are wider is NOT one of the problems.  The seam allowance when the blocks are joined together will make the red bands the same width.  I wish it was all that easily explained.)

I have decided that “Lighthouse” is going into my quilt as-is.  For one thing, I refuse to take it apart AGAIN.  I know what I did wrong, and it had to do with the way I enlarged the pattern, but I don’t care.  For another, it will be my “imperfect” block, and I am going to pretend that they  all aren’t imperfect in some way.  I am going to have a milkshake from Cookout for lunch and read a seed catalogue.  Next week is “Child,” and I am afraid to even look at the template for that.

*I am still not comfortable with the whole “First Janet,” “Second Janet” thing, although it was Second Janet’s idea.  She is younger than I am, so I’ve been Janet longer, but she is way, way more talented.  “Other Janet” doesn’t seem right, either, though . . . I am thinking of changing my name to Hepzibah.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Second Janet on January 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    HeHe! Mine came out smaller, too, and since my printer’s been out of commission so I have to draw all mine on graph paper first. Decided today I’ll fix it all with sashing. Mine are going to be wonky names. Seems fitting.

    Oh, and my seams certainly do NOT match, but I’ve come to realize that I’m making quilts for myself (they’re “fiber therapy”) and as gifts (which darned well be graciously received), certainly not to be museum pieces. It’s taken quite a bit of fiber to reach this level of acceptance!

    Oh, PS, I’ve been called a lot worse in my day. Like Mergatroid.

    Reply

  2. Hey, we can be Mergatroid and Hepzibah, thereby saving a lot of confusion, if not dignity. What color(s) will you use for setting triangles?

    Reply

  3. Posted by Elaine Gehrz on January 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Janet, (#1, I mean), won’t your borders be the same width after you sew the block into the finished product? Looks like it’s just that much too wide on the sides.

    Reply

  4. Yes, they will. The borders actually aren’t the problem; it’s that the center looks like someone ran a starfish through a mincing machine. Maybe two out of eight points match. Sigh. And that’s with paper piecing. I’d hate to think what it would have been like trying to do it with rotary cut pieces.

    Reply

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