Meet the quilter who made 366 quilt blocks in a year (spoiler alert: she’s awesome)

Patricia-BryantMeet 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!!!

“audience

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:

Patricia's quilt blocks
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:

366-quilt-blocks

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!

blocks-from-January-February-and-March
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
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
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-in-photographing-a-quilt-block
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:

April-8-quilt-block--Eight-Hands-Around-block
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
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.

Patricias-calendar
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
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
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!

Quilters-Block-a-Day-Calendar-sale

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 commentsand if you’d like to see what Patricia’s up to this year, follow her at @bryant_patricia on Instagram!

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43 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Gosh, definitely A! In 2016, I made a baby quilt, a lap quilt, a class project that was a lap sized quilt (top done, not quilted), a wonky log cabin throw-sized (top done, not quilted), a bed sized wonky log cabin, a scrappy quilt for a niece, a bed sized quilt made of all HSTs, and started on (had the blocks done) a throw sized quilt for another niece…..that’s a LOT of blocks!

    —Heather V on January 30, 2017
  • Not enough making plans to do more this year

    —Linda on January 30, 2017
  • A/ have made well over 100 blocks.

    —Peggy on January 30, 2017
  • I sew nearly everyday. In 2 weeks I produced 48 blocks which ended up in 2 lap quilts the next week made for the VA retirement home in Tucson. Yearly total? Who knows?!! Being a full time RVer, stash accumulation and storage is limited. I quilt my own projects too. Yeah; hopelessly addicted. 366 blocks is amazing. Being different sizes will make fitting them together into a puzzle – which may be a good way to quilt them! Wishing Patricia much more fun and success on her quilting journies!

    —Gayle Mitchel on January 30, 2017
  • I have made 120 blocks in a year, some were scrappy some very formal. But I like the idea of following a block a day. It would certainly help with the stash!

    —Liz on January 30, 2017
  • I made hundreds of blocks in 2016, most of which were assembled into quilts, many of which were actually quilted/bound/labeled. Nancy Martin’s 365 Blocks perpetual calendar,published by That Patchwork Place, has been a fixture in my studio since I got it in the late 1990’s. I’ve been tempted to make each block . . .

    Nann on January 30, 2017
  • Definitely "a". I have been doing the Splendid Sampler, as well as 3 or 4 other quilt alongs. I made a sampler quilt for my father-in-law as well. I am not caught up on all of them, but have finished 3 UFOs so far this year.

    —Cindy Fraher on January 30, 2017
  • I’m impressed. What beautiful blocks she created. And a great way to build on our quilting skills. Beautiful photos too!

    QuiltShopGal
    http://www.quiltshopgal.com

    QuiltShop Gal on January 30, 2017
  • I made 100 Tula Pink modern blocks, 30+ Splendid Sampler blocks, 33 star blocks for a guild challenge, and 10 or 11 guild raffle blocks. I’m sure I made a few others that I’m forgetting. Probably 200! Lots of fun!

    —Jean Blythe on January 30, 2017
  • A – made quite a few quilts in 2016 and couldn’t really tell you how many blocks were involved. It was a lot and I loved doing it.

    —Debby on January 30, 2017
  • A!! I took the 365 Challenge-a block d day – also hosted by an Australian – Kathy. It got very old around Aug-Sep! But I persevered and will get that medallion top sewn together at a retreat in March. However, I did not take all the wonderful photos of my blocks!

    —Barbara Moore on January 30, 2017
  • More! Would love to make more! I have been sewing and using my stash collection,in a scrap quilt! Sew enjoyable!! 😉

    —Lynette Gross on January 30, 2017
  • Congratulations Patricia! I did this in 2010 with the earlier version of the calendar, and it was a great learning experience. Most of the blocks I made were turned into donation quilts.

    My Block-a-Day blog
    http://spiralj1.blogspot.com/

    Wow, Jeanne, that is amazing – you are Patricia are patchwork twins! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the link to YOUR 365 blocks! –Jenny

    Jeanne on January 30, 2017
  • B! Several completed quilts. Several still in the top pieced only. Some still just blocks. Also was able to finish a quilt for a friend. His wife made the top back in the 80’s or early 90’s. All hand cut with scissors and hand sewn together. Had been in his closet silently waiting… I got batting and backing and quilted it up bond and finished. Now the quilt will be a wedding gift for the grand daughter this April. A lovely gift from her grandmother long passed away.
    I also have gotten off to a good year working on baby quilts and ready to start a queen size Irish chain quilt in red and white for my daughter.

    —Karen on January 30, 2017
  • A. I lost track but can say at the very least: 80 blocks in a denim quilt, 4 block exchanges totaling 96 blocks plus an additional 25 (give or take) blocks to add to the exchange blocks, handful of sample blocks pushes the count up towards 200.

    —Lori on January 30, 2017
  • After a quick scan through my blog, I would say I’ve made more than 1200 blocks in 2016, but they aren’t as beautifully and charmingly photographed as Patrica’s!

    Whoa, Karen, that’s more than we’ve heard anybody make in one year – way to go!! –Jenny

    —Karen in Breezy Point on January 30, 2017
  • Wow! Amazing! I can’t imagine doing that many blocks in a year. I work full time and quilt as I get time on the weekends. I don’t know how many blocks I did, but I made, quilted, & bound 14 quilts of various sizes and have 2 quilt tops awating to be finished.

    —Virgie on January 30, 2017
  • Pocos, porque fue cuando aprendí patchwork.

    Translation: Few, because that’s when I learned patchwork.

    —Margarita on January 30, 2017
  • I’ve made too many to count, but almost all of them are my own designs. I love to paper (foundation) piece and I love seeing what is in my mind come together in fabric.

    —Linda Voltz on January 30, 2017
  • C. Always C. I always want to quilt more than I do! Thanks you for sharing the inspiring photos. All that, and leukemia too. Blessings to Patricia and her family.

    —Carol on January 30, 2017
  • I probably made more than 35 blocks, but no finished quilts.

    —Margaret Dalmer on January 30, 2017
  • I didn’t make a block a day, but there were a lot ranging from 2 inches to 16 inches. So I guess I can say I lost count. Can’t imagine how beautiful her quilts will be when finished.

    —Darla Zimmer on January 30, 2017
  • I made several blocks for 2016. I have never counted blocks for projects, quilts, or by time. I don’t count fabric used either.

    I do like thoughts of using her Mom’s fabric — the memories, love, the connections.

    Awesome post.

    —carol on January 30, 2017
  • Definitely c) Not enough—I’d like to sew more in 2017! 2016 was a rough year, so I didn’t get to do much sewing. 2017 is shaping up to be a lot more productive!

    —Susan L. on January 30, 2017
  • I made at least 30 quilts but lost track of the quilts

    —Maggierose Copple on January 30, 2017
  • I think it has got to be a lot since I made a bunch of quilts. At Christmas I laid out about 20 of them and my 6 grandchildren and their wives each choose which one they wanted to take home.

    —Sheryl Hunt on January 30, 2017
  • I’m an ardent home taught from books and videos quilter, began in mid 80s and was fascinated to read Patricia’s story. I only ever had one quilting lesson and that was a sampler quilt in ’86; have a Quilt of the Day old calendar and thought of sewing each block but have made too many other quilts since then. I sew every day, but I am impressed by Patricia’s determination to complete her 366 day journey. I don’t use Facebook or Instagram because they’re too time consuming so can’t follow her journey. I am in Western Australia, is there an email address I can use to contact Patricia?

    Hi Ada, we can certainly send Patricia your email address! Would that work for you? –Jenny

    Ada Clarke on January 30, 2017
  • Definitely "C" – I seem to be collecting more patterns than sewing them!

    —Jo Anna on January 30, 2017
  • Definitely A. Made several quilts and guild challenge. Still working on the quilting of 2 lap quilts.

    —Cathy Swinkowski on January 31, 2017
  • I would have to say A. Lots of sewing done here

    —Renae on January 31, 2017
  • "C" I really want to do more quilting. Last year was a hard year. Lost my mother and my husband got pneumonia and hasn’t been well since. I have done some hand sewing, easy to take to doctor appointments.

    —Jenell Lamb on February 1, 2017
  • Loved this story !

    —Terri McGreer on February 3, 2017
  • Definitely A! 3 baby quilts, 1 wedding quilt done and another started, several Project Linus quilts, many QOVs, guild, charity and my own side projects. Good thing I take pictures of completed projects. Might be kind of fun to go back and try to figure out just how many I did!

    —Sandy Tunnicliff on February 3, 2017
  • C…I was a slacker last year compared to the years before 2016. Maybe I will get more done in 2017.

    —Sue Smith on February 3, 2017
  • Definitely A. I made a lot of quilts last year and have several more started to finish this year!! She is an inspiration!

    —Kris B on February 3, 2017
  • A. I made a lot because I have the quilts to show for it. Actually, I don’t have the quilts because I have given the quilts for gifts. I have 3 more quilts to do, and then I think I will make a quilt for us. Before we left IL to move to AL 3 years ago, I asked several people in our church family to sign pieces for a friendship quilt. I have made 8 blocks, but I really want to finish the UFO.

    —Nancy A on February 3, 2017
  • Gosh, probably C. I’m recently retired and bought a brand new beautiful sewing machine so I could do my own quilting. I spent a lot of last year finishing many UFOs with that machine and only started a few new quilts. I can’t wait to start new projects this year!

    —Michele on February 3, 2017
  • Definitely NOT enough…can never have too many blocks. Have always been able to find a use for my many blocks…tote bags, book bags, table runners, cloths, and of course, quilts.Just found three oldies that I hadn’t finished…current project is to finish and find a way to showcase each.

    —Sheila D on February 3, 2017
  • I started nursing school last fall at the tender age of 56, so my quilting has been put on hold. Ive temporarily turned in my sewing needles for shot needles! I did start teaching a young man in my class how to piece a quilt. He’s making a log cabin. So quilting lives on!

    —Sheila on February 3, 2017
  • I didn’t count the blocks but I made a number of quilts and a couple of table runners so my response is B. I would never try to make all the blocks in the calendar. What a project!! Kudos!!!

    —Chris on February 3, 2017
  • C – definitely not enough! I’m so glad your website was fixed and I remembered to check back to read about Patricia! She’s amazing!!! I absolutely love her idea of photographing the blocks in different places… so creative! Thank you for sharing about her journey.

    —Deb on February 3, 2017
  • I own old Block a day and was trying to keep them in same family color and theme. I would love to do it all again this year, but I sew every day and have too many UFO quilts and UFO blocks to make into real quilts.

    —Linda Christianson on February 3, 2017
  • I don’t know how many blocks I made, but I completed 3 tops, one finished quilt, (cuddle sized), a table runner, several hot pads, and numerous napkins. Some of these did not use a block format–one was a row-by-row style, and another was a sashed Flying Geese. Congrats to Patricia for completing her goal! Sounds like a fun journey.

    —Linda Towers on February 4, 2017

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