Quilt no. 018: Storied Minimalism

Hillary Goodwin of Entropy Always Wins set forth a challenge for September’s Bee Sewcial block. Her title was Some Things are Better Left Unsaid and she set forth a challenge for the group to create a block using black and white, minimalist design with some meaning behind it. While I don’t participate in Bee Sewcial as a member, the group was gracious enough to open the prompts up to the greater modern quilting community on Instagram.

Quilt no 018: Piecing Details

August was filled with turmoil and conflict. Emotional. Creative. Internal. My 20 year old Janome gave up the ghost in the middle of time-consuming piecing project. A serious hormone shift meant that mental health issues were ever-present including some of my oldest friends: self-doubt, self-loathing and obsessive compulsive behavior around food, sex, pleasure centers.

I sat down to tackle Hillary’s challenge with a machine graciously lent to me by Stephanie Ruyle. I had been thinking about Yoshiko Jinzenji’s minimalist quilts, about her piecing techniques. I pulled from my stash a vintage black silk table cloth, that had spent a large part of it’s life in service on a Union Pacific dining car. I also pulled various vintage cottons: washed muslin and feed sacking. Some new broadcloth. I cut and stitched, cut some more, stitched some more. I wasn’t reacting, just making, just assembling.¬†Despite this quilt being quite small, 18″ x 18″, it was time consuming. I’ve been real into time consuming piecing the last few months; small pieces assembled into larger cloth appeals to me deeply.

Quilt no. 018

I clamped enormous noise cancelling headphones over my ears and submerged myself into the world of chain piecing and podcasts. I was half-listening to Sandi Sawa Hazlewood interview Sherri Lynn Wood about her making process as I assembled the little pieces into a two parallel strips. Wood dropped this little gem.

In a way, quilt making is just a mirror. The way you put patchwork quilts together, the way you put shapes together and make relationships in your patchwork, reflects how you make relationships in your life.  РSherri Lynn Wood on the Crafty Planner Podcast

I didn’t think about the relationship to what I was making and what was going until I posted the top to Instagram. I wasn’t really feeling how it came out. I did, however, receive a bunch of positive and thoughtful feedback about it. Stumbling,¬†ordered chaos. Pathways and steps and hints of a long journey. I saw it. I see it.

Quilt no. 018: piecing details

I am still indifferent to the finished piece. But it’s there, it exists. A documentation of a particular moment in time, without any intention behind it other than it just make. It was more important for me to make than to make something completely successful.

Quilt no. 018: Fancy


  1. And the product of all that thinking and making is beautifully successful in both it’s aesthetic and meaning. I love the way and what you make Shelby and I am beyond honored you would make from my direction. I see all the things you mentioned but also Power and Strength. Good juju to you.

    • Shelby Marie

      Thank you so much, Hillary. It was a great challenge for me to make something so small and so directed. I tend to use my ideas for larger pieces and want to control every part of the process. I’m flattered that you see the more positive aspects of this piece. Much love, as always.

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