February is a lot of things – the shortest month of the year, a time to celebrate love with flowers and chocolate, a time to remember and honor the presidents who have served the nation, and even the month of anxiously awaiting a groundhog named Phil to predict the seasons.
What you probably didn’t know is that February also hosts Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day AND Tell a Fairy Tale Day. How fun is that?! February is looking quite fabulous, especially for us makers. With so much to celebrate, there’s a way to find inspiration all month long!
We’re on month two of our quilt planner download. Start planning your month of fun HERE and pick up some supplies you may need:
Jenny loves to give quilts as wedding presents, but not super-fancy-never-to-be-used quilts. She gives picnic quilts! Jenny wants her quilts to be taken on adventures near and far. She wants them to be loved and used!
Summer Stars was created for a special grandson and his beautiful bride. It’s a cute picnic quilt made up of two of our favorite patterns: Summer in the Park and Wonky Stars.
Everyone has their own journey when it comes to quilting. Many of us were fortunate enough to have quilting passed down to us traditionally from our family members; learning the basic motions of cutting and sewing from the careful hands of those who once had to quilt from necessity. Others however are just finding their path. The technological boom of quilting videos and tutorials that has developed within the last decade has allowed many people to acquire skills which were once only taught by those close to us. Regardless of how we began our journeys as quilters, the skills learned have more benefits than you may realize.
A Healthy Activity
Quilting as a health based activity is becoming more widely recognized with an influx of scientific research claiming that the act of quilting, or crafting in general, is a therapeutic skill which is ripe with health benefits. From a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health:
Cognitive, emotional and social processes were uncovered, which participants identified as important for their wellbeing. Participants found quilting to be a productive use of time and an accessible means of engaging in free creativity. Colour was psychologically uplifting. Quilting was challenging, demanded concentration and participants maintained and learned new skills. Participants experienced ‘flow’ while quilting. A strong social network fostered the formation of strong friendships. Affirmation from others boosted self-esteem and increased motivation for skill development. Quilts were often given altruistically and gave quilting added purpose.
Whether we’re quilting from the comfort of our own home, or working with others to finalize a more demanding project, the benefits of quilting are abundant for one’s personal wellbeing. As we age, our health care routine becomes more poignant and critical than it once was and in today’s society we’re often faced with a fast paced and stressful agenda that leaves little room for personal growth. Social organizations and physical activities are often promoted from medical professionals in order to relieve these stressors and to continue cognitive functions as we begin to enjoy our golden years.
The Best Social Club
Quilting has long since been a social activity. Before the luxuries of machine quilting and personal home sewing machines, quilts were often stitched by hand at local quilting bees. Judy Anne Breneman notes that this allowed the participants to engage in a dynamic social activity which helped overcome the loneliness that many experienced while living in isolated, rural communities. While few of us still live in such isolated communities, the concept of quilting as a social activity still rings true today. Many quilters still participate in quilting bees; many now are even part of a larger quilting guild which organizes meetings for its members. Quilting retreats and events offer the opportunity for maker’s to share their experience with others while continuing to build their personal skill sets in a social and engaging atmosphere. Online quilting groups have also provided such an outlet, allowing makers from all over the world to connect with others to discuss their craft from the convenience of their own homes.
This sense of community has become empowering to makers, allowing an open space to discuss projects and praise the ingenuity of others. With community comes purpose, and a sense of purpose often develops within quilters that allows them to combat mental health issues. Clare Hunter in “The calming effects of sewing can help people express and heal themselves” from The Guardian says, “Sewing is increasingly becoming recognised as an effective way to combat depression, the absorption demanded by needlework – its flow – calming the mind and reducing stress. The sense of accomplishment can boost mental health and improve our immune system, as relief from the pressure of multitasking is replaced by focussing on one thing.”
Finding our Purpose
To what ends though can we identify ourselves as quilters? Following retirement, many adults tend to struggle with finding their purpose. After spending the majority of one’s life consistently contributing towards a goal through a career, it is sometimes difficult, and reasonably so, to find a purpose in what is supposed to be our best years. The introduction of hobbies to provide a much needed outlet in order for someone to develop a purpose has been attributed to numerous health benefits; we engage ourselves and find pleasure in creating and it directly affects our well being. A 2016 study from the Journal of Epidemiology suggests that, “having hobbies and PIL [Purpose in Life] may extend not only longevity, but also healthy life expectancy among community-dwelling older adults”. The best part about all of this though? Quilting is fun! Few of us originally find quilting as a means of self-medication and mental health stimulation, but we all have the opportunity to reap the rewards all while enjoying one of our favorite past times.
As makers, we have many titles. Whether we identify as creators, quilters or artists, it is hard to argue the benefits that quilting brings into our lives. If the opportunity to make something of your own, or to make a gift for someone in need wasn’t enough, it is evident that the intrinsic benefits of craftsmanship are well worth the investment. There are plenty of great resources available as well for those who do wish to quilt for a cause and give back to their community. So keep those needles to the fabric and remember during your next creative project that not only are we making something to share with the world, but we’re taking care of ourselves in the process.
This is the time of year that we think about setting goals. We want to be better and all of you constantly inspire me to keep trying. This brand new issue of BLOCK has been spruced up from cover to cover to start 2020 off in style! The design has been refreshed, exciting changes are on every page, more stories from our readers, and even more to come throughout the year! We hope you love it.
Starting new also means celebrating success and recognizing growth. BLOCK has been through a lot over the past six years and so have you. I love to see how quilting changes us and helps us become stronger. Most of the letters I receive contain stories that explain how quilting has helped you get through your challenges.
No matter how many trials you encounter in your lives, when you spend time at your sewing machine, you begin to put yourself back together, piece by piece. It takes time, but that journey is so sweet. Handing off this precious quilt that you made for someone who needs some love or encouragement changes you.
This year, I want to focus on finding joy each day. No one thrives in negativity and so, each day, I try to look for one good thing. Instead of worrying about all the things I’m not doing, I’m going to find the things I can do. I don’t think I’m going to try and finish all my UFOs or completely redo my sewing room. But I will spend more time at my sewing machine! It brings peace to my soul. You quilters continually bring hope and love into the world. Keep an eye on those around you and spread as much joy as you can!
We’ve been sharing our resolution of New Year, New Projects – a goal to simply create more. As we try to inspire all of you to do this, we hope you realize just how much you inspire us right back.
In planning towards becoming more creative and making more, we’ve started with our own in-house publication,BLOCK Magazine. For the last six years, BLOCK Magazine has been an “idea book” designed, produced, and published by Missouri Star Quilt Co. On every glossy page, you’ll find stunning photography, fun patterns, brilliant ideas, and one-of-a-kind stories!
It was a small idea that originally gave birth to what this magazine became. Now that it’s 2020 – a new year, a new decade… Another small idea has grown into what is now the new and improved BLOCK Magazine. The idea book still holds everything you already love inside, but better and with more content!
The team creatively pieced together a new design concept and the end result is stunning – well, we think so and we hope you love it too! If you’re subscribed, you’ll see the fresh, new look within your next issue. If not, subscribe today so you don’t miss out!
… And because we’re so excited – we just can’t resist sharing a sneak peek of our brand new cover design:
Drum roll please…
Eek! We’re in love with this sleek, modern look! Oh, and notice the new content that’s waiting inside? We’re so excited to share it with you!
“We’re so excited to bring you a brand new issue of BLOCK that’s been completely refreshed for 2020! This new design includes even more of what you love: original articles, beautiful photography, a gorgeous cover, fun projects, stories from our readers, and not an ad in sight… We hope you love it! Stay tuned for exciting updates that will be happening throughout the coming months. It’s sure to be a great year for quilting!”
– Natalie Earnheart, Managing Editor
So what’s coming to BLOCK Magazine?
Fresh, new cover design
More authentic photo styling
Stories (from Jenny AND more from our readers)
Educational quilting articles
10 patterns + 1 bonus project
Jenny’s Journal (a highlight of Jenny’s personal projects)
Mystery Story with a new chapter in each issue
and sew much more!
Take a peek into the next issue of BLOCK Magazine
These are a few of the quilts that will be featured in the upcoming issue!
Over $50 worth of information is packed into each bi-monthly issue of BLOCK Magazine for just $7.99! ($9.99 bi-monthly for Canadian subscriptions.) There are NO ads and each issue ships FREE with your subscription!
Subscribe by January 30, 2020 to get this issue in March!