Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

An Arc Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceAn Arc: Bending Towards Justice, signals the end of Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Barbara Brackman, quilt and textile historian, has generously given us a block a week for forty-nine weeks, accompanied by short history lessons focusing on women’s suffrage around the world.

Admittedly, the subject is one that fires my interest, and although women are enfranchised in many countries, voting isn’t the end of story.  We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say that we are truly on an equal footing with men, not only in the workplace, but in our daily lives.  This last bit is what helped me finish the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project in a way that I’d not imagined.

Grandmother's Choice Barbara BrackmanDuring the course of the project, I’d been busily planning the layout of my quilt, tweaking the overall concept until I was well satisfied with the design, or so I thought.  Additional fabrics were selected for the setting squares, my math was double-checked, and I settled in to begin the final step of making a quilt top.  As I progressed, my excitement faded, the quilt was not making me happy.

I tried different fabrics and values in the setting squares, but still, no happiness was forthcoming.  I persevered, sure that I had hit some kind of wall in the design process and it would work itself out by the time I was ready to add the borders.  I kept laboring on it until at last – huzzah! – the field was finished, and there it hung on the design wall.  What was my reaction?  I turned my back on it and walked away.  The quilt top was flat, bland, and uninteresting.  Boring.  Time to work out the problem without the disappointment of the unfinished quilt top staring back at me.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice I continued to check in on the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr group from time to time, watching as the completed quilt tops came trickling into the group photo pool.  I missed the camaraderie of our Saturday morning group.  Together, we had worked through the challenges occasionally thrown our way, applauded each other’s successes, commiserated and made gentle suggestions when we failed.

One day, I was musing and drifting, thinking about all the women we had learned about over the course of the last year, when the proverbial light bulb finally winked on.  We didn’t win the right to vote through the work of any single woman, but through the execution of the battle plans of many women working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve a single goal.

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceThere was a large problem with my quilt, but the solution was simple – scratch the setting squares – all of that extra fabric simply made them shine out as individuals.  The blocks in my quilt needed to be set together, shoulder-to-shoulder so to speak.  You know what happened next… all of the sewing needed to be undone.

My trusty seam ripper and I became the best of friends for a time, but this has allowed me to become reacquainted with some of my favorite blocks.  Many of the instructions that Barbara gave us have found a permanent home in my pattern book to be used another day, in another quilt.

My version of the “Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights” quilt project finishes at approximately 68″ x 79″ – or 172.7cm x 200.6cm.

GC5

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21 thoughts on “Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

  1. Dorry

    Oh Jo, your blocks look wonderful all set “shoulder to shoulder”. I would have expected it all to look too busy but with your lovely color scheme they all just play together very well. Was that outer border in the plan all along? And such a great writeup here too. Congratulations!

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    1. Jo Post author

      Thanks, Dorry, I take that as high praise indeed. A single row of tiles was the planned border, but that idea was scrapped along with those darned setting squares that I’ll have to use as the foundation for another quilt. Never fear, an idea will occur to me some day. The double chain made much more sense when the quilt top had been reworked.

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    1. Jo Post author

      Uh-huh, I sure did. But then I enjoy the rhythm of piecing borders like these. Lots of chaining that gives me plenty of time to think, or listen to music, or listen to a favorite and familiar old movie. And thanks!

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  2. akagracie

    Oh Jo – It is so beautiful – and such a reflection of you as a person and as a quilter. It’s taken me quite a number of views of the completed quilt to be able to articulate my thoughts on it, because I’m seeing different squares and aspects each time. There’s movement and calm; direction and mis-direction (I mean that in a good way). In sum, the quilt seems to me to capture the theme of the QAL as a whole. I wasn’t surprised to read your response to Donnell, because I think the border is peaceful – and that’s where I see the real shoulder-to-shoulder aspect of the suffragette movement. The blocks set up the themes and highlights, while the border is (to my eyes and to my mind) all the unsung/everyday supporters working together to lift up the stars of the movement. (Yes, I could be over-thinking this, but your finished quilt strongly reminds me of the struggle to pass the ERA). The fight for women’s rights seems to be never-ending (e.g., equal pay, reproductive rights).
    Didn’t mean to go all political there. . .
    Where will you put the quilt in your home?
    You’ve created a very meaningful quilt here, Jo. Well done!

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  3. Amanda Best

    Hi Jo, I too love your quilt, it is splendid! One of my very favorite settings of these blocks that I have seen. I have been working on this project, too. I am Patchwork Princess on Flickr. My first one is so large and the second, and third versions I would like to make smaller, like yours. Do you have the cutting requirements listed anywhere to make the triangles needed to set it on point? I would love to give it a try, if I knew how! Thank you very much!

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    1. Jo Post author

      Hey there Amanda! I’m so glad you linked in, but unfortunately, I don’t have the instructions for the setting triangles on this blog. I will dig up my draft, with the math, and send you a Flickrmail soon (it’s easy-peasy stuff). Thanks for the pretty compliments, they’re much appreciated.

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      1. Amanda Best

        Oh, that is so sweet of you! I would sincerely appreciate it. I have dawdled putting mine together, because I wanted my purple one to be smaller than the 84″ square size, on the sample ones. Thanks again! Your work is beyond amazing!

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    1. Jo Post author

      Thanks, Kathy. Most times the layout ideas for a quilt come easy, but sometimes the layout ideas come hard. And then there are those other times when I just have to ‘out-stubborn’ a quilt that shies away from the concept of getting a check mark in the finished column. Good luck on your Grandmother’s Choice!

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  4. Lesley

    Your quilt is amazing, as is the story of your quilt. My blocks are still in a tote until after Christmas. Like you, I enjoyed the blocks and the history lesson. We’ve come a long way! Thanks for sharing your quilt journey.

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    1. Jo Post author

      Thanks so much, Lesley! Totes? Believe me, I know about totes. From where I’m sitting I can see three project bags, each with a quilt in progress. One log cabin variation that I can’t wait to get started on again. The second is a Christmas quilt that (once again) will not be finished in time for the holidays. The last is a yo-yo summer spread in ice cream colors that probably will not get finished in my lifetime. I may have to include the latter in my will for someone else to finish. 🙂

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    1. Jo Post author

      Para el complemento, Rosa, le doy las gracias. Para responder a su pregunta, los bloques fueron hechas por la maquina, con la excepcion del trabajo de applique, que se hace a mano…y todavia no he decidido si va a terminar con la mano o por la maquina.

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  5. The Calico Quilter

    I have watched your blocks with pleasure as the project went along, especially intrigued with your applique (the little girl block and the coffee cup are perfection – and that umbrella!). Such beautiful work, and such a beautiful finished quilt. You should be very proud of it, It’s a masterpiece. And you have inspired me – I really need to use yellow and grey in a quilt!

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    1. Jo Post author

      And it was your fresh daisy print fabrics that helped get me through this last winter – here’s a link to Calico Quilters photo stream at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23613035@N05/ . But one, no, let’s make that two pieces of advice… if you do a yellow and gray quilt, 1) don’t let it be the only quilt you work on, and 2) finish it well before you’re thoroughly tired of the restricted color scheme.

      Thanks for the comment, and the compliments. Both are much appreciated!

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  6. antarabesque

    Fabulous! It really turned out lovely. The border is perfect. Your reflection is so appropriate for the theme of the quilt. The blocks work so much better in community than in isolation. True that, and not just for quilts. Congratulations on the finish.

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