Meet Patricia Bryant—Australian quilter extraordinaire who gave herself a challenge: make every block in Debby Kratovil’s Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar. That in itself would be a feat. But Patricia went one step further: she decided to sew a block for 366 days in a row. One block for each day in 2016.
And guess what? SHE DID IT!!!
We were thrilled when Patricia began posting her daily quilt blocks to our Facebook page because we got to watch her journey unfold—and we got to marvel at her daily styled photos:
This collage represents only 80 of the 366 photos Patricia took of her blocks in 2016.
Wondering what 366 quilt blocks look like all stacked up? Patricia knew you would:
We kept in contact with Patricia throughout the year. When her goal had been reached, we asked if she wouldn’t mind a little Q&A—because we all had questions. Did she use up her fabric stash? How did she stay inspired all year? How did she find the time? And WHAT is she going to do with all those blocks?
Patricia was kind enough to answer those questions below. You can see all of Patricia’s beautiful blocks in this album on Facebook.
Stitch This!: What inspired you to make every block in the Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar—one block a day for an entire year?
Patricia: I didn’t start out to make all the blocks. I made the first one as a new beginning for 2016. I received the calendar as a gift from one of my craft-group friends. I enjoyed sewing the block for the first of January, and then the second of January, and then the first week, and then the first month. By the time I’d been sewing the blocks for about six weeks, friends and family started encouraging me to keep going. I thought I would, but only if it continued to be enjoyable. By about the six-month mark I found I was determined to finish the year!
A peek at Patricia’s blocks from January, February, and March
ST!: Were all the blocks made from your fabric stash?
Patricia: Yes. My mother and I began patchwork and quilting together in the mid-1980s, so we had ample time to amass sizeable stashes. When Mum passed away, I inherited her fabric stash. Sewing the blocks seemed like a good way to decrease the size of the combined stashes. However, having made 366 blocks, I can honestly say there is no discernible hole in the stash!
ST!: What motivated you to keep on going each day?
Patricia: Mainly two things: there were lots of people expressing enjoyment from seeing the blocks each day, and I felt that if I stopped, I would be letting them down. I was also sewing the blocks in memory of Mum, using her fabrics.
Blocks from April, May, and June—you’ll find lots of sweet animals in Patricia’s pics!
ST!: Did you ever feel like skipping a day, or did you ever make two blocks in a day so you could take a break?
Patricia: Yes, I often made blocks in advance if knew about travel, medical appointments, etc. I worked around leukemia and post-chemotherapy issues.
ST!: Was it difficult to keep up with sewing on the road?
Patricia: Not really, it was all down to planning ahead, and power for the sewing machine.
Blocks from July, August, and September
ST!: How did you come up with photo vignettes for each block on a daily basis?
Patricia: The vignettes improved as the year progressed. The early photos are very plain, then the photo shoots started to take on a life of their own! I tried to keep each photo shoot as spontaneous as possible with no plan in mind. Just whatever took my fancy on the day. They were influenced by circumstance, weather, location, and time.
A misadventure with Patricia’s Ocean Waves block on August 19—oops!
ST!: What are some of your favorite blocks or favorite photos?
Patricia: I don’t think I could choose a favorite block. There are so many blocks I love, it would be like trying to choose a favorite child!
I have two favorite photos. One is from April 8, called Eight Hands Around, where dear friends from my craft group lent me a hand in so many ways:
Eight Hands Around block, April 8
Another favorite photo is from April 29, called Wheels. We had stopped late the previous evening with the caravan and slept right beside a truck refueling point. This was our view the next morning. To me the photo was serendipitous!
Wheels block, April 29
Over the year I did end up using two calendars. My original calendar was looking a bit worse for wear—it had been pecked by birds, dropped in the ocean, and rained on, just to mention a few of its misadventures.
Patricia’s well-loved calendar!
ST!: What did you learn about yourself as a quilter during your year-long journey?
Patricia: I learned how very thankful I was for past quilters. At the very start of my quilting journey in the 1980s, I went to classes and made a couple of sampler quilts. It was that basic knowledge from other quilters which allowed me, many years later, to have the know-how to easily sew every block in the calendar. I’ve found I enjoy passing this knowledge onto others.
I also could not have completed the year without the support of my amazing husband.
Blocks from October, November, and December
ST!: Everyone is dying to know: what will you do with all the blocks?
Patricia: I’m intending to make a lot of them into quilts for family, friends, and charity. I’m excited about using the blocks in original layouts, adding other units, and playing with the blocks on my new design wall. Some of the blocks will find their way into table toppers, tote bags, and other small gifts.
ST!: We’ve been watching you on Instagram and noticed that you’re making blocks from The Splendid Sampler sew-along. Do you plan to catch up on all 100 blocks by the group’s last day, February 14?
Patricia: I’m loving The Splendid Sampler. The 6½" blocks really appeal to me. I enjoy “meeting” all the different designers of the blocks and being part of the online community. But as we are away from home, trying to take my stash while traveling the open roads with our caravan’s weight and storage restrictions make it impossible to bring too much with me. So sadly, I won’t be caught up by February 14. I do have a couple of projects with me to work on though, when time and electrical power allow!
Patricia and her blocks on January 1, 2017.
Patricia, thank you for sharing your year with us—we looked forward to your posts every day and we miss them already!
In honor of Patricia’s milestone, we’re offering 20% off the Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar plus free shipping in the US and Canada—while supplies last. Treat yourself to a quiltmaking journey just like Patricia!
So, how many blocks do you think you made in 2016?
a) It’s gotta be a lot, because I lost count.
b) Definitely more than 20—and I have the quilts to prove it.
c) Not enough—I’d like to sew more in 2017!
Tell us your answer in the comments—and if you’d like to see what Patricia’s up to this year, follow her at @bryant_patricia on Instagram!