Welcome to Journiblocks!
I’m so happy you found my shiny new quilting page!
I think you're really going to like it here.
Journiblocks is for anyone who's felt burning desire to create, tell their story, share and connect through quilting. It highlights the importance of creative expression and how it impacts and reflects of our unique journeys. How each block of the journey contributes a piece to who we are and will be.
Quilting imitates life: dissimilar pieces come together to create something beautiful.
A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.
— Frederick Buechner
Who am I?
I need to be honest- I’m giving myself a bit of a pep-talk writing this first post, trying to talk myself over the edge, into the pool that is Journiblocks and all I dream it can become. I keep scooting up a bit, gauging and re-gauging the trajectory of my dive, which will likely be very awkward but nonetheless, put me into the pool.
Stop testing the waters, Jess! Jump in! The water is great!
Has it been a half-hour since I ate?
Is that distant thunder I hear?
Did someone just pee in the pool?
Get ahold of yourself and say hello!
Yes of course… hello! I’m Jessica (aka Jess, aka crazy-quilt-lady, aka crazy-Frenchie-lady)! I've also gone by silly-goose on occasion.
I’m married to my amazing-silly-compassionate-Star-Wars-loving-and-PATIENT husband Tim. We live in Florida with our children- Toby, Teddy, and Angie. They snort, snore, and drool a little. They shed all over the couch, the car, and our clothes. I love them and wouldn't have it any other way.
I hear Angie in the distance crying, “Hey! I don’t snort, snore or drool!”
Ok to be fair she doesn’t snort, snore or drool but she does shed all over the place and cry at us when we don’t feed her on time in the morning. I’ll let her get away with it because after all, she is a cat.
Toby and Teddy, on the other hand, those are registered offenders in the snort, snore, and drool departments. They are French Bulldogs and I am their doting handmaiden.
At the time that I’m writing this, Toby is a little over a year old and Teddy is just about four months. Toby is the brindle and Teddy is the masked fawn.
Aren’t they cute? I. Am. Obsessed.
Why Start Journiblocks?
This takes us back to my pending leap into the pool. I'm inching ever so much closer to the edge.
I’ve been working on getting all of the technicalities of this site up and running. Now that it’s time to start blogging, where has my courage gone? Why is this happening?
I've read some articles about "how to launch a blog" and they have assured me this feeling is normal. Normal to actually get depressed at this point in the development process. But why?
Don’t run inside Jess, the sun is shining, your friends are waiting!
I think it’s because this stuff is very important to me (and must be for anyone willing to commit enough time to such a thing as starting a blog). I have an awful lot to say and many stories to tell. I have a lot to share about this “stuff”, my passion- quilting.
I am guessing this is your passion, too.
Isn't that why you're here?
I won't be upset if you're here for the cute puppy pictures; I totally wouldn't blame you.
But quilting is really pretty great and if you’re new to the party, welcome! There is no turning back! Mwahaha. I dub thee Quiltaholic Extraordinaire.
Don't worry; I'm a quiltaholic, too. It's not something I'm planning to seek rehabilitation for, so I’m in it for the long haul by your side.
Sewing and quilting have been cornerstones in my life as far back as I can remember. A thing much of my childhood and creative ambitions have been built upon.
My mom had a sewing studio in our house when I was growing up. She made custom garments such as wedding gowns and did some alterations. I would sit and watch her at the machine, Bernina humming away, eager for my chance to learn.
She started me off making small pillows with her leftover fabric scraps and poly-fill when I was about six years old. Probably just to keep me from pestering her while she worked but she didn’t know the monster she was creating.
I LOVED it! Not just a passing fancy kind of love it. More like any scrap of fabric I could get my grubby little hands on, would be magically transformed into a pillow, kind of love it.
I made so many lumpy, misshapen pillows it would make your head spin.
She even bought me a small handheld sewing machine to take to my brother’s t-ball games because I couldn’t be stopped!
I gave lumpy pillows to everyone for birthdays, Christmas... She said my brother was actually always excited to receive his. Hmm... do I believe this? What do you think Andrew?
It was a problem. But she said I loved it so much that she just let me run with it.
Here is one that she still has to this day, made from Christmas fabrics. (Almost looks quilted, doesn’t it?).
It would appear I had discovered her pinking shears by this time. Fun toys galore!
Pillows were followed by garments, but then the real magic hit me when she taught me to quilt in my early teenage years. No turning back! Based on the pillow extravaganza you can imagine what quilting has transformed into for me.
I was (am) into other creative activities, too, like drawing, crochet, cooking, baking, and writing. I absolutely adore(d) writing. During my schoolgirl days, I would send out poems and short stories to every publishing house I could find the address to. Over the years I even made it into a few places, much to my surprise and delight!
Ok, so what? How do these things connect?
One more piece of the puzzle and I promise I’ll bring it all together.
Creativity and Mental Health
I was an anxious child. I am an anxious adult. (I am thankful for my husband's unwavering patience everyday as it relates to this). Anxiety is something I have struggled with hard my entire life. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder in high school, though its symptoms had manifested long before then.
It’s a part of me I don’t always appreciate but realize I wouldn’t be the same without.
I majored in Psychology at the University of Buffalo in an effort to further grapple with mental health and understand its breadth. It's not something to be dismissed or thought of as secondary. The power of our own minds is beyond what we can comprehend and what our subjective realities are built upon. I figure it must be better to embrace and nurture it, rather than fight against it in a battle to be lost every time.
I've struggled to shift my view of anxiety to that of a traveling companion, rather than a shackle on my ankle. That sidekick you can't shake, who doesn't always give the best advice, who catastrophizes everything. They may try to lead you on some bizzarre side quests and blur your focus. They might smell funny and infuriate you. But you don't have to let them naviagate the map.
I am mentioning it because I hold transparency to a high esteem, so I must be transparent about who I am. And also because one of the most therapeutic things you can do in regards to mental health, is to speak up! Share your stories and feelings. What better way than through your own creativity?
Anxiety has shown me the value of creativity. Creativity has helped me find myself through the fog that can set in when anxiety comes knocking. It’s a way to stay grounded, connect with others, and escape the shrouding caverns of isolation that can set in. Working with my hands gives me something positive and concrete to focus on, even if other things seem to be spinning out of control.
Creativity allows me to work with my mind, rather than resist it.
The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.
Creative expression is arguably one of the most important elements of my life. It doesn’t define me, yet helps me to feel better about how I define myself. It has touched every part of who I am.
No matter what you may or may not struggle with within your life, you can find value, comfort, and joy in creative expression.
Can you relate?
Bringing it all together
As I am writing this, we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an extremely trying time for everyone. Now more than ever it’s important to embrace creativity. People are turning to it and bonding through it, even at a distance. They are finding their way through the fog, using it as a beacon.
(Check out the about page for more on this!)
This has cemented in me the need to help others make the connection between creativity and a positive life. To help others find comfort, healing, sanctuary, and their voice through it.
I am focusing on quilting but these ideas are relevant to other art forms as well. Quilting happens to be the form closest to my heart and the one I obsess over the most!
“But, if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.”
― C.G. Jung
What can you expect from Journiblocks?
My mind (and many notebooks) are practically busting at the seams with ideas!
I will talk about the process of creating which includes notions, techniques, hacks and other resources for the practical side of quilting. This includes your questions answered! Please comment on the posts and ask quesions! Get involved; we can help each other!
You can also use the reach out page to send me questions! This will give me an idea of what people are looking for in future posts, reviews, tutorials and resources!
I will be developing courses, resource guides and original Journiblocks patterns. I plan to do comparison posts (e.g. notion vs. notion) and review patterns from other brands that I've used.
A little further down the road I would love to be able to bring curated fabric bundles to you as well as kits! While I'm super excited to get ALL THE THINGS going like NOW, I need to do one thing at a time, despite my enthusiasam. Please let me know what you're most excited about so I know what to prioritize!
Of course, the other major aspect of Journiblocks will be telling stories and reflection. Stories behind the quilts and quilters. Inspirations and impacts of quilting in our lives, on our communities and regarding mental health.
If you’re new to quilting, I will be offering a course that will guide you through getting started and your first project from start to finish so keep your eyes out for that! Make sure you sign up for the mailing list to stay up to date!
Above all things, my goal for Journiblocks is to provide a supportive and informative place for people to learn, connect and discuss quilting!
So please sign up for the list and comment below because I need your help to get there. Let me know what you think, what you’d like to see, your favorite kinds of patterns, etc.
Whew! I’m so glad I got that all out. Thanks for listening.
I appreciate you.
I guess the thunder has passed and my meal has settled; time to dive into the pool.
I hope you’ll join me! Not so scary, right?
Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world. The only unique contribution that we will make in this world will be born of creativity.