Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

QMMP 101000 cover 2001 Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

Note: The pattern for Four Little Birds (mentioned below) is available as part of Quiltmaker’s All-Time Favorites~Spring 2006. This issue is available as a digital download. [9/1/10: We have some technical problems with the digital version of ATF Spring 2006. It is currently not available to download--we'll let you know when it's been fixed.]

The Sept/Oct ’10 issue of Quiltmaker (No. 135) will be in subscribers’ mailboxes shortly and on newsstands August 10. On its inside back cover, Spotlight features a quilt by Lorry Chwazik from Norwich, New York. Lorry’s statement about the quilt and the process by which she made it was thought-provoking, and her ideas about designing the quilt were contagiously inspiring. I wanted to share them with you.

QMMP 101000 SPOTBIRDS Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

Lorry Chwazik's creatively original version of Four Little Birds

“Inspiration for this quilt came from ‘Four Little Birds,’ originally patterned in Quiltmaker Jan/Feb ’96 (No. 47). I absolutely love the zen-like appeal of hand piecing, and this pattern provided the perfect challenge with which to use that technique.

QMMS 060061 BIRDS Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

The original version of Little Birds from QM Jan/Feb '96 (No. 47)

But how to provide my own spin on that design? The curves of the ‘birds’ made for a strong graphic right to the edge of the block, and naturally led me to wonder what secondary designs might pop up if the blocks were joined without sashing. And then what would happen if they were set on point? And what fabric choices would make it look like a period piece? So many interesting things to consider!

“I drew out a rough sketch for placement and started collecting and cutting fabrics. Little Birds and I were ready to spend many happy hours together, waiting at my daughters’ piano lessons, play practices and swim meets.

Chwazik swimmeet Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

At a swim meet in the fall of 2003, Lorry paused her piecing long enough to take this photo of her daughters.

Lorry continues, “Life seems way too hectic. The feeling that my life is hurtling past is one I experience often. This quilt, which was hand pieced and hand quilted, was all about the process. It took nearly nine and a half years from start to finish. Although some people might have found it to be tedious, I found it to be liberating! Finally, something I could take my time with! And then, after all those thousands of stitches—the sense of accomplishment when that last stitch was placed was a fantastic feeling.”

Based on Lorry’s thoughts, here are some questions to ask yourself in regard to your next quilting project:

1. “What would happen if I ____________________?” Fill in the blank with options such as “rotated the blocks,” “rotated half of the blocks,” or “used fabrics in hot pink and purple.” Rather than making a quilt look exactly like one that has already been made, how could you put your own twist on it?

Actually, we choose Spotlight quilts based not only on their overall appearance and quality of workmanship, but also by asking “what did the maker do to make it her own?” A submission that looks exactly like the original quilt is less likely to be used as a Spotlight. Asking yourself “what would happen if I…?” is a great place to begin.

2. “Do I need to be in a hurry to finish this quilt?” If it’s for a 50th anniversary and the party is next month, you probably do. But how about reconsidering the sweet simplicity of taking your time and enjoying every step of a project? If there is no need to hurry, let your quilting be one area of life that quiets you and soothes your soul. Whether you’re working by hand or on the machine, relax, enjoy and savor every stitch. Think of the nine years Lorry spent on Little Birds—and get back to slow.

Note: The pattern for Four Little Birds is available as part of Quiltmaker’s All-Time Favorites~Spring 2006. This issue is available as a digital download. [9/1/10: We have some technical problems with the digital version ATF Spring 2006. It is currently not available to download--we'll let you know when it's been fixed.]

taketime1 Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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7 Responses to Spotlight on Little Birds, and Questions to Ask

  1. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally visit my website =). We will have a link trade contract between us

  2. Ann says:

    Favorite quote from the first quilt class I attended: If you strive for perfection, you will fail, as we are imperfect humans. Strive for EXCELLENCE!

  3. Laura says:

    This is too weird. I’ve never been to this site before. I’ve been away from quilting for 10 years. Just last night I oh-so-happily finished the second block of MY Four Little Birds quilt. I made the first block 10 years ago, from that 1996 issue of QM. I still love the block and think of it every year when the swallows return. Maybe my Little Birds will be finished in another 10 years. What a coincidence to see this post.

  4. Connie says:

    I just received issue #135. “Four Little Birds” really caught my eye. It reminded me that I bought the fabric to make a similar quilt in red and white. It nice to hear that someone was able to take their time and enjoy the process! I’m inspired and I think that I’ll dig out that red and white I bought so many years ago.
    Thank you for sending it a picture of your quilt with your inspirational story.

  5. Tracy says:

    Very inspirational quilts! Love your Magazine! Keep up the great work!

  6. Claudia says:

    When I took my first quilting class and I heard the instructor remark, “it’s your quilt, you can make it any way you want”, I had an “a-ha!” moment. Really, any way I want? And I have been passionate ever since. I love designing my own quilts, love taking a pattern and “if I did…?”, how would it look; love looking at the fabric and “letting it speak to me”. Think “outside the box”. You’ll be surprised where you can go.

  7. Lisa says:

    Beautiful quilt.

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