The bloggers were asked who would like to partake in a Sew-A-Row quilt, and I decided to go for it. I haven’t been part of such a group before, and the only Sew-A-Row I’ve done before was one from Popular Patchwork magazine, using scraps.

I wasn’t sure what would be required of me in this, which was a little worrying at first. However, once the colours and themes had been decided, it was easy for me to choose which one I wanted to be involved with. Both the colour schemes appealed to me, but I am more of a Fire girl, and the theme Random meant that more or less I had free reign. In my innocence, I thought that we were required to create entirely new blocks – something of our own making; mind you, a change of fabric placement in a readily recognised block creates something new!

My inspiration for the blocks came from the brief of fire colours and scrappy. I raided my extensive stash – and in particular my scrap baskets / boxes / piles, to find the fabrics I wanted to use. Having chosen fabrics from the stash (the fabrics from fat and thin quarters and lengths of fabrics), I took them to my cutting table, and cut strips of about 6”; I then cut a 6” square, and then used the rest of the strip to cut thinner strips.

A selection of fabrics that I had readily available
Strips cut from the selection

Once at my cutting table, I saw fabrics that had been trimmed from quilts – usually the backing fabric, so I added them to my collection. This gave me extra fabric, meant that I didn’t have to cut more, and could use some of the offcuts I seem to have accumulated. It also prompted me to have a look through my scrap boxes and baskets, to see what else I could use – some of the smaller pieces that I’ve been saving for years.

Once at the sewing machine, I was able to dip into the scrap piles, and I found even more offcuts, scraps and strips at my disposal.

I decided to approach the blocks with a random theme – to make it up as I went along. This meant that none of my blocks would be alike, and that no-one else’s blocks will be alike either. It also allows our individuality to come through in more than just the colour choices. This approach can seem daunting at first – particularly if you are someone who likes to follow instructions, and know exactly how something is going to turn out. However, it is also very liberating, as there are no right or wrongs with these blocks. If you sew a piece in the wrong place – does it really matter? If you’ve used the wrong side of the fabric – does the wrong side look better?

This approach also gives you the chance to cut into your precious stash, but not use all of a particular fabric. I like to keep pieces of my favourite fabrics – don’t ask me why, because I don’t have an answer! These blocks are also an ideal opportunity to use all those scraps and odd bits and pieces that some of us can’t bring ourselves to throw away!

With no right or wrong way to make the finished blocks, we can give ourselves permission to experiment, and also to be kind to ourselves. We don’t need to point out any mistakes – as there are no mistakes in these blocks – just a design choice or a design opportunity.

Fires and flames are random, they are always different and always changing. A little bit of copper in a fire will cause flames to turn green or blue. Purple is seen on the gas hob, and different chemicals will burn different colours. This is why I allowed myself to use fabrics with a little bit of green, blue or purple in them.

As I went through the piecing of my blocks I remember feeling quite excited; I felt like a proper quilter – and I posted this in the Secret Fire quilt facebook group. When I saw the other rows for the quilt, I worried a little that maybe my blocks would be too ‘out there’. I loved seeing my blocks finished and made into a row – and I was relieved by the positive comments I received when I posted pictures of my blocks in the secret group.

My finished row on my (obviously well used) design wall

Having seen the finished quilt, it looks absolutely amazing, and I feel honoured and proud to have been involved in this project. I hope that fellow quilters will take on the challenge of this sew-a-row – and will also take on the challenge of allowing yourself freedom and latitude when it comes to the row I designed. Consider it your playtime – your creative time!