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Bust Quilter’s Block…and Boost Creativity

Wow! My April 22 post about quilter’s block really struck a chord! We had some terrific follow-up conversation about causes and solutions. If you haven’t already, do go back and read the comments..some great ideas (and wisdom) there. Congratulations to Sharie-Moss Bluff, winner of the Art and Fear book giveaway. (Sharie-Moss, if you’ll email me your mailing address at, I’ll get the book out to you post haste.)

One of my favorite (quilter’s) block-busting techniques is to make a tiny 3″ x 5″ collage quilt every day for a week…or two or three. Here’s the catch: I limit myself to 30 minutes for each little quilt, start to finish.

This exercise has amazing potential, not just for busting quilter’s block, but for cranking up your creativity. The area to cover is unintimidating–perfect for auditioning an idea, a composition, a technique, or new materials before launching into a larger project. The 30-minute rule limits your investment of time, and keeps you from laboring over every little decision. Not happy with today’s result? As Scarlett would say: “Tomorrow is another day.”

Want to give it a try? Okay…set your alarm for 30 minutes and let’s go!

  1. Cut a 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ scrap each of background or “base” fabric for the front, backing fabric, and batting. Cut two 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ pieces of your favorite lightweight fusible. The 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ size gives you wiggle room for trimming later.

Cut everything 3 -1/2" x 5-1/2".

Cut everything 3-1/2" x 5-1/2".

  1. Prepare both sides of the batting for fusing. Fuse the backing to one side and the background or base fabric to the other, both with right sides facing out.

Fuse front and back fabrics to batting.

  1. Now…have fun!! Raid your scrap bag and fuse fabric scraps to the base fabric. Create a landscape, a still life, an abstract design. Add thread, yarn and/or ribbons with couching or embroidery. Play with beads, buttons, charms, or other embellishments. Experiment with rubber stamping and photo transfer. Cover the surface with quilting stitches, using those decorative threads you’ve been hoarding.

I've pulled all my collage fabrics from the scraps in this box!

  1. Time’s up! Trim the finished piece to 3″ x 5″. Stitch the raw edges with a straight, satin, or other decorative machine stitch…or cut 3/4″-wide strips from fabric prepared with fusible, fold the strips over the sides, press, and stitch.

In a future post, I’ll give you some ideas for displaying your handiwork.

**Spring Market Alert** Next week, I’ll be at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT, to promote my new book, A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue. It’s a Martingale & Company spring release, co-authored with my very dear British friend, Christine Porter. I’ll be doing a Schoolhouse in Room #255D on Thursday, May 12, at 12:05 p.m., and signing books on Friday, May 13, in the M’gale booth (#1200) at 10 a.m. and at Brewer Quilting & Supply (#730) at 1 p.m. Stop by and say “hi” if you’re “in the house.”

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