Thursday, April 28, 2022


It's been nearly a full month since I started making improv bead blocks, inspired by an element in Irene Roderick's "Improv Quilting." Besides being a way to use some scraps in a new quilt, I also decided to have the project be a sort of retirement commemoration for myself. Why not, right?

If you remember, the palette is that of the branding of the church where I worked - brick(ish), teal, gray, and purple. I pulled scraps in those colors, and for a while, just made strings and strings of 'beads.'

Eventually, of course, I needed to start coming up with an overall quilt design, and chose a long 'string' of bead blocks; which for me, represented the many connections I'd made over the years in my work. Pretty early on I decided I needed a common 'background' color, and settled on Kona Lighthouse. Then as I progressed along, I added in more background grays - Kona Silver and Titanium + a forgotten-named Cotton Couture gray. I incorporated them because I wasn't sure if I would have enough of the Lighthouse, and I'm so glad I did, as the mix added some fun interest I think. AND I was right - I ended up using every last inch of the Lighthouse by the time the quilt was finished.

Anyway, I 'strung' the groupings of beads, beginning at the top, and winding down to the bottom. Having the string begin and end off the edges of the quilt design seemed appropriate, since where I worked these past 23 years was our church home prior to my working there, and will continue to be into the years ahead. I know full well that many of the connections I've made in that place won't end because of my retirement; and of course, there will be new ones for sure.

For a quilt back, I imitated the strings of bead blocks on the front, supersized of course, using a bold and surprising Painter's Palette in Royalty as the background. I confess I kinda love it!

I quilted with Aurifil 50wt #2600 [light gray] on top, and #4030 [plum] in the bobbin. I simply echoed the lines of the bead edges and the strings, filling between them so lines of stitches did not exceed about three-quarters of an inch. 

A binding of Kona Lighthouse, the primary background color of the front, seemed unobtrusive and fitting, and the quilt finished at 53" x 63". 

It fills good to have this one done! It was a perfect project to work on these past weeks as I've settled into retirement. There are so many connections that have been meaningful over the years, and it's been nice to reflect on them as I worked on this quilt. Plus, I have a new lap quilt that I can enjoy going forward with so many memories stitched into it.


  1. I love the way this quilt was with you through your retirement transition and evokes all the connections past and present. I like that it holds space for more connections to come, and the backing is delightful! What a beautiful and meaningful quilt.

  2. Such a lovely background story for this quilt! And your backing - including that awesome outdoor shot - stopped me in my tracks. It is gorgous! Hope you have a good start into retirement. xo

  3. such a beautiful commemoration of your time working at the church. maybe the three beads on the back represent the trinity? a beautiful finish

  4. Beautiful finish! It's double sided, I think either could be the front or back, super design.

  5. Love everything about this!!

  6. This is such a great quilt design idea connecting your life experiences along the way of your working life into your retirement life. And I love that you’ve left the end open to more experiences.

  7. Oh my gosh, Debbie!...I am working my way through old podcasts for American Patchwork & Quilting when Pat Sloan was the host. I just listened to her interviewing you in October 2017. I thought something about this person sounds familiar....awesome!