Okay Thru 12

12x12in. Block Opener

Lookie Here! I bet you thought I forgot about this project didn’t you?
Come on, admit it. You’ve laid awake many a night wondering if you were ever going to see it again.

Well, today I am ending your restless slumber, because I have the last blocks of my fusible scrap quilt to share. The blocks below are 12×12-in. and the one above is 9×12-in.

I started working on these blocks at the same time Bill started getting seriously ill. I would work on them sporadically as I sat in the hospital room. I found rhythmically stitching the buttonhole stitch was therapeutic and mildly distracting as I focused on blocks and not on my diagnosis worries.

As Bill’s condition worsened my attention focused on and more on him, so I stuck these blocks in the closest knowing that I would continue working on them as soon as Bill came home. As most of you know, Bill never came home.

12x12in. Block 1

To help ease the pain of my loss, I started stitching again. Some days, I would barely stitch an inch before I put the project way. Other days, I might stitch for an hour or longer and eventually, inch-by-buttonholed-inch the blocks were complete.

I would take them and sew with special friends, but mostly it would be just me, the needle and my thoughts of Bill.

12x12in. Block 2

Focusing on the buttonhole stitch was easier than focusing on my troubles or pain. These blocks are the most elaborate of the bunch, so there was a lot of buttonholing and focusing going on.

I finished these beauties before I came home from my trip to Tennessee and Arkansas in October. The only reason I haven’t shared them with you is because I wasn’t ready. Now I am. Yippee for you! You can finally sleep!

12x12in. Block 3

Now that the buttonhole stitch-work is complete, I am ready to add the next layer of interest to these blocks. Yipppeee for me! I can hardly sleep just thinking about it!

If you think these blocks are fun to look at now, you are really gonna love what I do to them next. I could give you all the delicious details, but that would spoil the surprise—and I know how much you love surprises—so stay tuned.

For those of you who want to read about this project in its entirety, you can start here. If you just want to see the other blocks, then click on the following links:

If you want to see what the quilt is sorta, kinda, in a general sense, that may be changed at any stage in the process is gonna look like, then you can click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Well, that’s it for the larger blocks. Feel free to let me know what you think about them, the project, my sanity or anything else that’s on your mind—just don’t ask me about what I’m going to do next—because it is a surprise.

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21 Responses to “Okay Thru 12”

  1. H Says:

    I’m a long arm quilter and admire work that is as pretty on the back as the front! Boy – would I love to quilt for you!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hello H! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that you appreciate both sides of my work. That is always nice to hear.

      As I start generating more quilts, I may want to take you up on your offer, so send me your contact information, a link to your web site or send me a few photographs of the type of work you do and let’s see what happens.

      Here’s my email address: tomrussellquilts@gmail.com

  2. Jackie Says:

    I’ve been collecting my fusible scraps for the last 5 years, had no idea what I was going to do with them but couldn’t part with the left over fabric – some of them small, some large. Now that I’ve seen your blocks I realize that free style blocks is the way to go, who knew when I discovered your site I’d figure out a way to use them up. Thank you

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jackie, Sounds like we are the same person. I just can’t throw this stuff away. Every time I try to get rid of it, then I end up digging it back out of the trash.

      Free style designing is definitely the way to go. Each block is an adventure and so much fun to put together. The only thing that takes time is securing the pieces down, but even that is enjoyable.

      There is a freshness about this approach to applique that appeals to me. I will always enjoy my planned projects, but there is so much freedom, spontaneity and creativity that goes into creating these little blocks, it’s really hard to describe how much fun they are to make.

      I also love that I am using up all those tiny bits of fabric that are so precious to me.

      There is definitely a lot more to explore with this approach to applique and I’m glad to hear that I am not the only one ready to go on this adventure.

      Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and I hope you will share your quilt when you get started. I would love to see what you come up with.

  3. Brenda Wall Says:

    Tom this is another of your beautiful work and a wonderful story to go with it. It reminded me of the time my mother was in the hospital and I took blue work (I like blue better than red in my blocks) to work on while I sat in her room. Like you, it kept me from worrying too much and thinking too much while she was ill. Sadly she too passed away during that time, but she really enjoyed watching me work on the blocks. It was only a 4 patch, but it hangs in my hall and reminds me of Mom when I pass by. Love you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Brenda, Thank you for sharing your story and for the kind words.

      I knew quilting was integral to my life, but I had no idea when I started how much effect it would have on me as I navigated my life’s journey.

      Each quilt I make or have made has been full of memories. Each time I look at my older work I am transported back to that time.

      This quilt is full of all of those earlier memories and now it holds memories of a life changing event. It was special when I started it, and even more so now. It is hard to imagine that I will ever make a quilt that is more important to me than this one.

      It’s good that you have this quilt to remind you of this special time with your mother. So much love was shared during that time and all of it was absorbed in those little 4-patches. You are blessed.

      Love you too.

  4. Jayardi Says:

    • • • It’s great to see you posting regularly again.

    Your new blocks are looking great already, but I know you. They’ll be spectacular when all is done. How long do you think it’s going to take to finish this one?

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there! Thanks. I’m trying to mark off items that have been lingering on my Wanna-Do List for way too long. Before I start another adventure, I like to do a little mental house cleaning.

      Oh, so many nice things to hear and such a big question at the end. I have big plans to these blocks, but I have no idea how long it will take to execute the next layer of detail.

      I know it won’t take as long as it did to do the buttonhole stitch. The buttonhole was very involved and had to be on every piece. The next layer of detail won’t be that dense, but will continue to add to the overall look of the block. I’m very excited to see how each block’s evolution materializes.

      I will work on this next stage of detail in the same manner I worked on the buttonhole stitching. I will start with the smaller blocks and move up to the larger. That way I get into the rhythm of creating and can see and monitor my progress easier.

      This approach also allows me to share my progress with you and everyone else sooner. As I said, I’m very excited about this next stage. It will start off small, but keep building with each larger block.

      Oh . . . this is gonna be fun!

  5. jessica Says:

    Bright & Beautiful…!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jessica, You are too sweet. You captured so much emotion in a very few words, you must be a poet at heart.

      Thank you for your praise. Have a wonderful day!

  6. Bruce Eastman Says:

    Tom,
    No words can say how beautiful those blocks really are. Not just the visual aspect but what they represent. As I read through the past postings, from beginning to the present and watched as these block grew, I sit here in awe.

    You are a wonderful story teller and the love story that these blocks tell…there are no words. I see all these memories in each flower, leaf, each shape and I’m drawn into your world. Thank you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hello Bruce, Your words are so kind and heartfelt that I hardly know how to respond, so I am only left with the words . . . thank you.

      I am humbled by you kindness and praise and thank you for blessing my day with such caring words.

  7. Erin Nesmith Says:

    These blocks are just lovely, and I am too excited to see what else you’ve got in mind. Isn’t that just like you, to turn a wretched time in your life into something beautiful? I have now received my Recommended Daily Allowance of Creativity and Gorgeousness, thanks!

    I hope to sweep you off to lunch in Houston, in November, if you’re free.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Erin! Your enthusiasm and joy is overflowing and brings a big smile to my face. I am glad to hear that my post has met these very demanding requirements. It is a high mark indeed.

      I am always up for being swept away for lunch, dinner, breakfast, midnight snack and any time someone wants to chat, so I am always available. I will look forward to your call.

  8. Carol Anderson Says:

    Well, now, I really can sleep better knowing these are on to the next phase. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next. I know it will be absolutely whimsically wonderful!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, Carol Anderson! It’s sooooo good to hear from you.

      Sorry about the insomnia, but just I couldn’t help it.

      I’m excited about the next stage too. I also can’t wait to see what I do. Like with the block creation, I have no real plan, just an idea about how each block should sorta, kinda, in a general sense look.

      I feel like it is going to be an exciting and action packed adventure. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

      Rest well.

  9. Cyn Strang Says:

    Beautiful, Tom. The story behind these blocks make them even more special.

  10. Carla Says:

    Can’t wait to see the finished quilt. I’m glad you able to mark them off your WIP list. I have a feeling this quilt will have a very special name. Hugs

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Carla, I’m looking forward to seeing it finished too. This is only the completion of the second stage of the quilt There are several layers still to go.

      I think it will be on my Wanna-Do List for a while, but I don’t mind. I learn something new with each step in the process and this quilt has taught me that I have much more to learn.

      Gummy bear kisses and marshmellow hugs to you!

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