Welcome to Journiblocks!
Creative expression through quilting is a way to feed, and tend to the soul.
Let's share some stories and embrace the journey together!
I am a wife, frenchie momma, lover of thunderstorms, sniffer of books and quilt-a-holic. I've been sewing since I was 6 years old and fully admit that I'm addicted.
When I'm not busy quilting or obsessing over my dogs, I love watching scary movies, reading, writing, playing board games, sampling craft beer and enjoying nature with my husband in our home of Jacksonville, FL.
I am a transplant from Western, NY so I am loving life here away from the snowy winters. Some may say I don't need as many quilts now that the winters are mild but I beg to differ- a quilt for any season!
I know quilting is so much more to you than "just" fabric and thread.
(Don't get me wrong those things are fantastic, too!)
It's much more than sewing oddly shaped pieces of fabric together.
Quilting imitates life: dissimilar pieces come together to create something beautiful.
It's about building relationships, self-awareness, strength and communities.
It isn't about cranking out quilt-after-quilt in the quest for “quantity” (though you can if that’s what brings you joy!) but rather about savoring the experience and embracing the value of creative expression in your life.
As the old saying goes, it's about the journey, not the destination.
So if you need a friendly traveling companion, I'm your girl!
Time to think outside the block!
Misconceptions About Quilting
Let's blow some things out of the water real quick, in case you're thinking this may not be for you.
It absolutely can be and IS!
Quilting is for Grannies
Quilting is for people of all ages and lifestyles. You can work a 9-5, be a stay-at-home parent, retired, or anything in between to be on the quilt-train! You can even teach your children (that's when I started). If you are a quilting grannie, rock on! I want to grow up to be just like you!
Quilting is Old Fashioned
There are no “quilt police” to stop you from trying something new or breaking boundries. Quilting doesn’t have to be done in a traditional or homespun style. While those are beautiful, so are modern quilts which take advantage of bold design and color. You are only limitied by your imagination.
Can You Hem My Pants?
The dreaded question of many of a quilter...
Quilting is a type of sewing yes, but all sewing is not quilting (including tailoring). Different skills, stitches, materials, equipment (etc. you get the idea) are used for different types of sewing. It's ok to gently explain that to a loved one asking you to hem their pants.
I Don't Have Time
If something holds enough value to you it finds a way in, even if through slivers of spare time. Also, you don't need to make huge king sized quilts to be a quilter! Quilts can be as small as a pot holder. Don't stress and don't compare yourself to how quickly others move through projects. Afterall, speed isn't the point! The journey, not the destination, remember?
Quilting is "Just" a Hobby
Quilting is a lot of fun but also so much more:
- It's a healthy way to process struggles or difficult times in your life.
- It creates a sense of belonging and community.
- It can help keep you grounded.
- It puts your stories and emotion into a tangible form.
- It is about sharing the special moments, places, people and feelings in our lives.
Each quilt is a unique expression (and extension) of the artist.
Why the Heck Should You Listen to Me?
I get it. There are a whole lot of quilters out there giving their advice and teaching their methods.
I'm not here to say I am better than any of them. In fact, I'll tell you that many of them are “better” than me (however that is being measured, or maybe we're just "different"). I certainly have my share of quilting-heros and people I admire. I'm not trying to replace any of them or be the end-all-be-all-authority-on-quilting, because I am not that thing.
I'm just a girl with a passion for quilting and storytelling, who has been doing both for most of my life. I'm learning as I go (from my mistakes), making some things up along the way and doing it all with so much enthusiasm that I can't help but share!
I'm going to say something maybe a little controversial so please don't roll your eyes:
In this wide world of quilting, quilting itself is actually secondary.
What I mean by that is, so much of what I've learned and gained from quilting is really about creative expression in general. I also enjoy crochet, baking, drawing... all forms of creative expression.
And that's the primary thing: creative expression.
(For more on this, check out the Welcome to Journiblocks post!)
Quilting happens to be the form I obsess over the most. Sure I will talk about techniques, fabrics and things specific to quilting. But the underlying reasons we do all of this can be applied to other art forms as well.
Quilting is an art form and we are artists.
A Little More About My Background:
I have been sewing since I was 6 years old. My mom had a sewing studio in our house. She made incredible custom gowns and garments for her clients. I was (and am) in awe of her talent and eye for detail.
I would sit and watch her sew, Bernina humming away, eager to learn. Impatient to learn! She taught me to sew pillows first (and boy did I run with that!) She even bought me a little travel machine to take to my brother's t-ball games because I didn't want to stop! I moved onto garments and, in high school, quilting. I was instantly hooked. No turning back!
I attended the University of Buffalo and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology. I have always been facinated with the power of the human mind. It's incredible and limitless.
My education and own struggles with anxiety and depression have taught me the importance of connecting to your inner-self, others and staying grounded. One excellent way to do this: creative expression.
Creativity allows me to embrace my mind, rather than fight against it. It is something that I want to encourage others to embrace, as I have done.
Proceed With Hope:
The Origin Story
I love a good origin story. It's my favorite part of any superhero movie. Unexpected, usually awkward. Yup that sounds about right. Except I'm no superhero. Just a girl trying to find her way and share some light at the same time.
None of this was part of the plan I had for my life. Journiblocks wasn’t born out of a daydream of quitting my day-job to pursue a path that would allow me to work in my PJ’s and stay home with the dogs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but rather this is something I stumbled upon, much like a step that's not quite the right height. That uncomfortable moment where you feel like gravity is playing tricks on you, sucking you down further than anticipated. In reality the step was not nearly as high as you expected it to be and your foot came crashing down, throwing you off-balance. Leaving you for a moment, disoriented.
I had a quilt in the works using a pattern named Hope in early May. I had completed the blocks and was playing with which arrangement I would use when attaching them together. So many choices, each full of possibility.
At that time, I was working remotely from home for my full-time job. It was a Monday around 11 am during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. I received a call from the company I was working for. It was my supervisor and her boss. They advised me that my position was being eliminated due to the economic conditions surrounding COVID-19 in order to keep the company “viable in the marketplace”. I remember the conversation as if I were someone only observing it happening. I remember how odd those words seemed to me-“viable in the marketplace”. It felt so cold and foreign, coming from people with whom I had worked closely for years. Mechanical. Rehearsed.
I was blind-sided and it took time to understand what had just happened. I remember telling my husband who enveloped me in a great and bottomless hug while I cried on his shoulder. My tears were born of disbelief, confusion, guilt and from the weight of the entire significance of COVID crashing onto my shoulders. Fear of what would happen next.
This had made it all feel so real.
On the news were near-constant updates of the unemployment numbers skyrocketing, but I had truly felt that my job was safe. I had recently had the best review of my career and was working towards climbing the corporate ladder. I had been told they thought of me as the “future of the department”- even in the conversation where they told me I was let go (?). I had dedicated so much effort into the position and department I was in.
I guess everyone thinks it will never "happen to them".
But I do realize that I was not alone. Not within the pool of employees at the company (as many were getting this phone call), not amongst working Americans and not even on a global scale. I realize that it must have been a difficult decision and conversation for them to have (over and over with so many people). That is of some solace. And I certainly don't envy them either.
I experienced guilt over the amount of anxiety and stress I had surrounding this, especially when I reflected over the seeming insignificance of it on a larger scale. While I lost my job, people were loosing their lives and loved ones. People working in healthcare entering what must've felt like warzones every day to help those in desperate need of medical attention.
What is the loss of a job compared to all of that?
That being said, I think back to my years of psychology classes: each of our realities is valid and does deserve acknowledgment.
I have heard it said that we are not all in the same boat; rather we are in all in the same storm. My boat might be shipwrecked, crashed into pieces on some distant shore, you may be desperately dumping bucketfuls of water over the side to stay afloat, while another is using the wind to sail while sunbathing on the deck, margarita in hand.
Where’s my margarita I wonder?
I spent the next few days feeling sorry for myself, trying to figure out the next steps along the way in the disastrous unemployment system. I spent a lot of time cleaning and baking to keep my mind and hands busy. I spend a lot of time apologizing to my husband, although he never blamed me for a second (I really am blessed with the most patient and compassionate of men).
This time allowed the gravity of the pandemic to take hold. My foot was feeling for that step that wasn't in its expected place. Reality beckoned and my foot came crashing down. Balance thrown, spiraling in my thoughts, around and around. It had been easier to go through the motions and feel like things were "semi-normal" while I was still working. But there was no hiding now.
I hadn’t yet been able to return to piecing that quilt top as it had grown to represent a time when my mindset was all different. And now everything had changed. It sat there under the needle of my machine like a beacon of despair, over the loss of some green pasture.
But was that pasture so green I wonder? What about that job defined me? Did I find myself truly being there? Was I living with authenticity and intention or just going through the motions? There was (is) so much more to me than that. Even in regards to our societal rhythms pre-COVID-19, on which I'm sure there will be a great deal of writing. Pre and post COVID.
Were we all just going through the motions, oblivious to consequence? Were our priorities in the right place?
I had a talk with my mom. She remarked that something good that's come from COVID is putting priorites back in order. Family time. Caring for loved ones. Finding ways to connect despite physical distance. And even businesses were doing this. From zoom classes to virtual happy hours. People were getting creative. And I realized that even the Hope quilt was part of a virtual quilt-a-long. Creativity shining like a beacon in the storm. This is something we need. That I need.
Creativity is a force that can guide us and bring us together. It is important and powerful.
I remembered that life is what we make it and we can do so much more than take what is given to us.
A moment in Beauty and the Beast where Belle sings loud and clear came to mind and hasn't left me ever since: "I want so much more than they've got planned."
Maybe it's my turn to run through a field of wildflowers with nothing to loose.
We need not be defined by societal norms, or what corporate America hands (or takes away from) us. Not by the economic conditions and not even by a global pandemic. There is so much beauty in the world. You need only look for it instead of focusing on the storm. Focus on the light.
To focus on the light you need to stay grounded. Which can be a tricky thing to do when everything seems out of control.
A big part of anxiety (which I have struggled with my entire life) is the feeling that you have no control. Quilting (creative expression) gives you control and puts you in the driver's seat. It gives you something positive and tangible to focus on when other things might feel like they're spinning out of control
You make a quilt intentionally, through a series of choices and actions. That is where the control lies- intentionality.
With it comes a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. That can be the "thing" you need to stay grounded when other parts of your life feel like they're spiraling. Each piece in it's place, one at a time. Just like life: one day, one choice at a time.
On a difficult day, it's helpful to know I can turn to quilting.
I can turn to an online quilting group and see a newly completed project, participate in a quilt-a-long, or try a new pattern. I can chat with people about our endeavors and feel that I am part of something outside my bubble. I can see the beauty that has been created even in the darkness. You'll find, there can truly be comfort in the storm. You just have to know where to turn.
Quilters are pretty amazing people and are always willing to share some space under their umbrella (masks required during the pandemic!)
After some time I embraced that the only way to proceed was with hope, figuratively and literally. To move forward with hopefully intention and positivity, and to finish the quilt whose pattern was actually named Hope (by GE Designs, who I adore).
In turning back to Hope, I decided to add the dark sashing between the blocks to transform it into a windowpane, although it wasn’t in the original pattern instructions. Like how the new path I decided to head down wasn’t in my “original instructions”. (Or maybe it was, and it only took this to make me open my eyes?).
The window symbolizing all of the tantalizing and bright things waiting outside to be discovered.
The summer yellows and deep blues are begging for me to follow them out of the room, the box I thought I was stuck in. It’s amazing to me to think of how long this fabric waited to transform and show its true beauty. How long I allowed it to sit dormant just under the needle.
I am standing here looking out the window at the summer sun and I’m ready to step outside! I'm excited to embark on this adventure of sharing, inspiring and storytelling.
My hope is that through quilting, you too can find joy, connection and a safe harbor no matter the storm.
Please join me on this journey and let's share our stories along the way. This is what Journiblocks is all about.
Your traveling companion,
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I am so excited to share this journey, and my stories, with you!