Monday, August 08, 2005

We have just finished August's sessions for our Rainbow Bright Block of the Month (BOM). Each month, since January, 60 people stop by the store to pick up their block, learn how to piece it together, and be inspired by design ideas. This year, our BOM is first Saturday of each month, and the Monday following. In no particular order, here are the blocks we have completed so far:

When we say bright we mean bright!

Now that you've seen all these blocks, we can guess what you're thinking: "Wow! You're kidding! Sixty people each month! How do Kim and Cynthia possibly do this? How do they coordinate for a Block of the Month? I sure would like the inside scoop on that!"

We can't hold back from telling you.

Starting in December, we decide the scope and focus for next year's program, and how we are going to run it. This year, Kim decided to design our blocks, but we may do a commerical one next year. We're not sure yet. (It's nowhere near December.)

Then Kim draws up all the blocks on Electric Quilt, designing the entire quilt so that it is ready to go for January. Each month, as the year goes on, she looks at that month's block separately, and writes up instructions for how to do the block. This takes days. This is because during the process, she inevitably decides that (1) she is not happy with the colors she originally chose and (2) she also doesn't want to do the block she originally chose. And so she redesigns the block 3 to 4 times until she is satisfied--or until Cynthia is ready to kill her because it is getting too close to the weekend and we still need to get the block tested, cut, and bagged. We try to keep the wailing and gnashing of teeth to a minimum on both ends.

When Kim is finally finished, it goes to Cynthia, who is our tester. Cynthia makes the block. This takes an afternoon. We try to be sure that the instructions are clear and that the fabrics are cut to the right size. She makes notes for corrections as she goes. Occasionally we miss, even then. But we always try our best to make sure that everything works. Trust us, we do not want to get sixty distressed phone calls.

When the block is finished, we cut the fabric, and we put each block's worth into a separate baggie for each person. We've found that this is the only way to keep them straight. It takes at least two full days to do that because we're cutting out and keeping track of so many pieces, in between helping people as they come into the store.

We need to get the room ready, putting away our usual large classroom table, and putting out 10 chairs so people can have a seat during their timeslots. Kim prepares mini lectures, giving tips for making the block, pointing out new items that have arrived in the store since the last month, making announcements about what's coming up (for example, the Centre Pieces guild show this October), passing out the new packets, and sometimes giving little surprises to the group.

We're always extra-busy with customers on Block of the Month days; we have to admit that from our point of view, that is a great reason to have this type of program. But the people doing the blocks also get an advantage. They receive a quilt's worth of blocks, which means that by the end of the year, for what seems like very little sewing time, the quilt is basically finished.

If you're in our Block of the Month, you're on the home stretch after this block. If you're not, look for our end-of-year newsletter, and sign up beginning in January. We think you'll like it!

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