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The Patchwork Mama Block

Happy Saturday, Friends. It is a beautiful Autumn day here in Illinois. The photo shows the warm sun coming through a beaded window art piece that my husband bought at an art fair a couple of months ago. It is such a pleasure to walk into the kitchen on a sunny day and see beautiful little rainbows scattered across the counter tops and floor. It looks like someone tossed a handful of colorful jewels across the kitchenscape and it makes me smile.

Color does that for me, it always makes me smile and that is just one reason why I love patchwork quilting. The colors were the first thing that drew me into my grandmother's quilts. Gran was a master quilter and master at working with color. In that way, I hope I am truly like my grandmother.

When it comes to patchwork there is a segment block that can only be called the Mother or Mama Block of quilting, the half-square triangle. It is the segment that I would guess is used in at least 99.5% of all quilts. That simple little square, half one color and half another color adds so much depth, shape and texture to a quilt. The half-square triangle lets the quilter transition from one color to the next, which allows the quilt to morph into shapes, shade areas, offer up an image as a negative or positive form. And if you love to create scrappy quilts or quilts that use only the scraps of fabric from other projects, you will literally have a jewel box of color in one gorgeous quilt.

If I may indulge, I will tell you about my first patchwork session with my grandmother when I was child. I was surely a nuisance to my dear grandmother, as I would beg to see "the quilts" from the moment we walked in the door of her home. And let me just say that the begging would not stop until the promise of "quilt time" was arranged. Now, I should explain that my grandmother had dozens of quilts. I would have gladly sat with her and talked about each and every one of those quilts each and every time we came for a visit. However, my grandmother being the brilliant woman that she was and the mom of seven living children knew exactly how to tame her wee granddaughter's lust for all things patchwork. I was allowed to choose one stack of quilts and those were the only ones we would look at and talk about for that particular visit. The rest had to wait for future visits and if I whined, there would no quilts. I learned to soak up every bit of color information, shape decisions, etc. that Gran would give. Then one day, when we arrive, Gran had a surprise for me. My own little stack of fabric, needles, thread, and scissors. On this visit, Gran would teach me all about how to hand sew a 1/4" seam and create my own little half-square triangles, The Mama Block. How I wish that I still had that small stack of blocks. And over time, patchwork quilting found a room in my heart and I have loved it ever since. Patchwork, fed my creativity and solidified a bond with my paternal grandmother like nothing else ever would.

The Mama Block is so useful, that I keep stacks of them in all colors and sizes. Sometimes, I just grab them and start sewing them together until I have throw sized quilt top completed. Then I quilt and bind and put it in the gift closet. Someone will be wrapped up in that blanket and know they are loved by me, just as I always knew that I was wrapped in my grandmother's love every time I slept under one of her quilts. Your family and friends will feel the same way when gifted a quilt by you. And all you need is the little ole' half-square triangle. Let's look at some inspiration blocks:

The Pinwheel - Nothing but HST's (half-square triangles) Can you imagine a full quilt created in scrappy pinwheels, or a lovely curated fabric collection. Such fun and whimsey.

The Shooting Star Pinwheel - A center pinwheel with extensions that create the idea of sparks coming from the spinning center wheel. This is one of my favorites. It is all HST's and only takes three fabrics. Pure joy!

And finally, the Flower Basket. The perfect block for a quilt of any season depending on the colors that you use. Pastels for Spring, Brights for Summer, Warms for Autumn and Cool Pale colors for Winter. I love this block and think that there should always be a flower basket in every summer quilt, whether it is on the front of the back of the quilt. This block is made two different sizes of HST and a few solid squares. A true pick me up surprise in any quilt.

This week in Quilt Lab, the video is all about the Mama Block, along with a full demonstration of creating the segment block with an embroidery machine. There is a Free pattern set - available on the website for a 5" inch finished segment HST. Please feel free to share a download with a friend and maybe a little stack of fat quarters and a dove grey thread for piecing. Be the friend or family member that brings the joy of patchwork to another person. It will be a lifelong joy for you both.

Please watch and like the video that will post at midnight CST US 10/29/23 (Sunday morning). And I would be truly thankful if you would subscribe to the Website and YouTube channel. I love having friends all over the world and knowing that we are all making the world a more beautiful place by,

Sewing Life Beautiful....


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