Courthouse Steps Hourglass
2023 Finished Quilts

Project Quilting 14.6 {Conquer a Fear}

The final Project Quilting Season 14 prompt is “Conquer a Fear”. I sat and pondered the prompt for a while on Sunday when the prompt was released. I’m not particularly afraid of any quilting techniques, piecing methods, or colors. Though I used to be hesitant about curves and using pink or brown, so I am definitely proof that the way forward is through. Or as the prompt post says:

You see, to grow you must face fears. It’s the way to achieve and succeed. If you only do what’s safe and comfy, you’ll stagnate and grow soft.
The way forward is always by finding and following a new path. Growth.

I didn’t come to appreciate pink and brown without using them in quilts. And clearly, I have flipped all the way around and now love and embrace sewing curves. Okay, well, the prompt wasn’t just about quilting techniques; it asked us to consider our path forward personally, professionally, creatively, emotionally…. So I stared to think more philosophically.

In the past, I’ve been accused of fearing change. I’d like to suggest that instead of fearing change, what I fear is the unknown. I actually quite embrace the fact that life is nothing BUT change. It’s when the next step forward is shrouded in uncertainty that I start to get fearful. Once I can wrap my mind around and start envisioning what the new will look and feel like, I actually get quite excited to move forward. But until I can envision that step forward, well, I have a lot of questions and uncertainty.

Choosing Fabric

Choosing Fabric

With that loose philosophical idea in mind, I quickly settled on making a large, oversized courthouse steps block large enough to be a baby quilt or wall hanging. As I turned to my stash to think about what fabric to use, I realized that I had been resisting cutting into the yardage of Kona Cotton solids that I acquired last year. Afraid to “misuse it”. As if making a quilt could ever be misusing a fabric! So without overthinking it, I boldly walked over and started pulling fabric mostly from the March bundle (which you can see is significantly shorter in the stacks on my shelf with the selected fabrics removed).

Fabric Pull

Fabric Pull

I chose (from top to bottom on the left):

  • Espresso
  • Chocolate
  • Mocha
  • Biscuit
  • Latte
  • Khaki
  • Sand
  • Peach
  • Creamsicle
  • Sienna
  • Cocoa
  • Brick
  • Garnet
  • Burgundy
  • Raisin
  • And rounded out with Bone (which I have considerable yardage of) for the sides.
Quliting Plan

Quliting Plan

I used 3″ wide strips (which finish at 2½”) and the 38″ square quilt top itself was pieced by mid afternoon on Monday. I spent a lot of time on Monday waiting to hear about a loved one who was in surgery (it went well), and I started seeing the quilt as an hourglass with the sands of time dribbling down from the top. We each take our allotted moments and turn them into memories: one breath, one step, one moment at a time.

None of us know when our timer will run out. I think about time and the moments I have left a lot, and instead of turning toward fear, I hope that with that awareness, I am more able to consciously choose to be in the present moment. Not every step is perfect, and I’m grateful for the hands and hearts that have helped and continue to help me along the way.

I created a quilting plan (illustration above) that I hope illustrates my thoughts and musings about time and the hourglass of life.

Courthouse Steps Hourglass

Courthouse Steps Hourglass

I used 50wt Aurifil in 2360 (Chocolate) to quilt the top of the “hourglass”, 2000 (Light Sand) to quilt the vertical lines in the Kona Bone sides, and 2468 (Dark Wine) to quilt the bottom of the “hourglass”. Up close, the quilting becomes bolder and more visible toward the middle of the quilt, which felt appropriate. The present and near present moments both in the past and future are the most in focus and stark. As time moves, older memories layer on top of one another and while they clearly shape who we are and our present moment, the exact details become less clear. And the further ahead into the future we try to peer and predict, the murkier and less we are able to discern.

Courthouse Steps Hourglass

Courthouse Steps Hourglass

To finish the quilt, I carefully matched the binding to the colors on the edge of the quilt: Espresso at the top, Bone on the sides, and Raisin at the bottom. The extra time it took to carefully construct the binding was well worth it and I like how it also gives a sense that the shapes and ideas keep stair stepping and building both up and down beyond the edges of the quilt.

Courthouse Steps Hourglass - Quilt Backing

Courthouse Steps Hourglass – Quilt Backing

I have quite a bit of Kona Burgundy yardage in my stash, and since it was the next to darkest rich red in at the bottom of the quilt, it was the natural choice to use for the backing.

In one last instance of facing fear, I was contacted by someone who saw a photo I shared of the pieced quilt top on Monday. When she read my thoughts about the hourglass, she was really moved by the piece and my words. She reached out and asked if the quilt would be for sale. Setting a price for my quilts always brings a bit of a rush of fear; but I took a deep breath, wrote her back with the price I would like for the quilt, and as long as she sees these final photos of the quilt today and still feels a connection to the quilt, I think I will be selling and shipping this one off to a forever home soon.

Kim @PerisimonDreams, Trish @QuiltChicken, and Kim @GoGoKim: thank you so much for all the hard work you do to organize and host Project Quilting. I don’t know why I hadn’t participated in a prompt before, but after being able to make something for each prompt this year, I am completely hooked and already looking forward to next year!

Linking up with Project Quilting 14.6, Finished or Not Friday, and Beauties Pageant.

15 thoughts on “Project Quilting 14.6 {Conquer a Fear}

  1. Laura M says:

    Lovely quilt Yvonne. I too fear the unknown, but over the years I have learned that if I can set the situation like an experiment and “run the experiment to see what happens”, I am OK. I think it’s my training as a scientist. Perhaps your training also pushes you in this direction. Congratulations on completing all 6 challenges with such wonderful variety.

  2. JanineMarie says:

    There are so many thoughtful reflections in this post that I need to ponder. One little less relevant thing, though: when I was looking at something you made the other day with a different fabric line, I was kind of wondering what you were ever going to do with all the Kona you had accumulated and thought maybe it was hard to jump in and start using it. Now I have my answer. 🙂 I’m glad you took the leap. The quilt is quite moving.

  3. aquilterstable says:

    I love so much about this one! Thoughfully made every step of the way, I love that it drew you to your Kona stacks! The quilting is perfect for it. And I glad it (most likely) already found its forever home. Just beautiful. So glad the PQ series was so rewarding for you!

  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed your response to the prompts this year, Yvonne. Each one has been so thoughtful, and useful. This one, though, I think, is so very appealing. I can relate to those feelings, waiting to hear when a loved one is going through something tough (I’m glad the outcome was good). The colors you chose fit the emotions, and the quilting and matching binding really finished it well.

  5. Julie says:

    I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts about the quilt & seeing how well the quilting expressed them. There’s nothing wrong with a little fear of the unknown. Hopefully with the support of those who care, you’ll make it through. Glad to hear your loved one’s surgery went well. Sending healing vibes for a good recovery. Pink & Brown is one of my favorite combinations, you did a beautiful job.

  6. Raylee Bielenberg says:

    Gorgeous quilt, and I love the colours you’ve used. I agree, I generally tend to steer away from brown, but there are some beautiful chocolate browns and ones with a hint of red. Congrats on making a lovely sized project too.

  7. Cindy says:

    Love this! Not only is it gorgeous but the thought and reflection you also put into it. I think the fear of the unknown causes a lot of us to have sleepless nights. I have enjoyed seeing every project you made for the challenges Yvonne.

  8. Those are amazing thoughts to go with this gorgeous piece!! I love the hourglass analogy – and making the best of the time! And layering memories – wow – you really got me thinking with this one!!

  9. Patty says:

    What great thoughts behind your piece – the quilting bits (afraid of cutting into the ‘good’ fabric in case you ruin it) and the thought about staying present in the moment both resonated with me. Good luck with the sale.

  10. What a well thought out project (so typical of you, Yvonne.) Congrats on turning your fear of the unknown into a quilt which spoke to a potential buyer! I can relate to to these things, as my own PQ14.6 was about the same fear and I know how challenging it can be to put a price tag on one’s work.

  11. Kim Lapacek says:

    This is absolutely stunning! I am beyond thrilled that you participated in ALL 6 of the challenges this season! It’s been such a true pleasure to see what you’ve come up with each week.

  12. Such a thoughtful response to this week’s prompt. I appreciate that it is not fear of change, but the ability to see yourself on the other side and envision the steps it takes to get there. I am glad your loved one did well with surgery. I like the experiment in color, the hourglass idea and the quilting all working towards and expression of facing fear – thought provoking and beautiful.

  13. Just love this quilt and the symbolism behind it. I love the colour gradation, and that the courthouse steps block became an hourglass. I think we get to a certain age, and maybe it’s certain events that make us step back and realize our mortality. Every day is a gift, truly.

  14. Melanie says:

    I loved reading your post – so well written and with many insights into your thoughts. And I am especially drawn to the quilting. It reasonated with your observation but also of itself it is just beautiful. xo

  15. I love this quilt, the gradient and the quilting work so well together. Congrats on another fabulous finish!!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)