Backstage Pass: Checking Blocks In

From the get-go, I’ve numbered the blocks, tagging them and logging them in. At first, I wrote the block number on a small strip of fabric (drawing a little line under the last digit in the number because numbers like 698 are easy to misread if you don’t know which end is up.) and used a safety pin to attach it to the block. Can we say time consuming? Then one day The Engineer walked in, watched for a few minutes, and suggested I find a gizmo like they use to attach price tags to clothing. A visit to a nearby quilting store yielded just such a gizmo that saved time, but writing the block number on fabric still ate up some clock, so I wrote the numbers on paper then began typing out the numbers, spending a lot of time figuring out the spacing so that once I cut off the edges, I could make one horizontal cut then snip off each number. I attached these with the gizmo, and it was good – especially once I asked if somebody would do that and not one, not two, but three volunteers – Debbie Burchell, Vonnie Grant, and Janet Hickey – raised their digital hands and took this chore over.

That worked well for several months, then I discovered how well painter’s tape sticks to fabric, so I began using a red marker to write the block numbers on the back of blocks with X’s dark enough and wide enough to keep the ink from showing through, and write the number on painter’s tape and stick it to the back of other blocks with smaller red X’s.

In the beginning I scanned every block as part of the cataloguing system. (Actually, in the very beginning I took photos of every block, moving the scanner in only when I figured it would shave some time off the cataloguing process.)

Let me say that again: in the beginning I scanned EVERY block. Every. Single. Block. (imagine me thunking myself upside the head) before entering all the information into a database, and by “all the information”, I mean the information for every block. Every. Single. Block.

I want y’all to know that Diane Dresdner has commemorated more than 500 people so far! I love her.

Nowadays I scan blocks randomly, making notes on the Provenance Forms, then scan the Provenance Form, titling the file with the block numbers (using the word in its plural form so that the files will fall in line by block number. The singular form – block – is used to title files of photos or stories to go with specific photos.), week received, envelope number (it’s a purposeful quirk of mine), and the Maker’s name. One day, when I’m looking for something to do, I’ll enter all the information on the Provenance Forms into a database.

Every envelope is labeled by the week it was received, bagged, then every bag is labeled by week of envelopes and boxes it contains.

Current day tagging kit. It goes with me everywhere. I attach a strip of tape to the inside of the bag telling me which block # and envelope # to start with when I begin another cataloguing session.

Last week, for the first time since the first week in February, I unpacked my suitcase and stored it away. In the past several months, whenever we made a quick run up to the mountain to check on the bees and fetch the mail, I divided the mail into weeks, put each week’s mail in a separate bag, then schlepped it back down the mountain where I worked on checking blocks in as time allowed. Not only are the envelopes labeled by the week number received, I label the bag by the week number because a girl like me can never have too many ways to check, double check, and triple check herself. Checks and balances are at the heart of every one of my systems, and I’ve used them more than once. You know I have.

When the blocks have been numbered and the Provenance Form scanned, the blocks are put into a holding box where they will stay until its time to bundle them to send to Piecers. I’ll tell you that part of the system later.

Now listen, y’all remember how my computer had a meltdown several weeks ago? Well, it’s taken a good, long while to figure out what information was lost by sifting through emails, social media posts, and journal entries to reconstruct it. (Remember what I said about ways to check, double check, and triple check things?) I hope I’m not being overly optimistic when I say give me another 2 days, and I think I’ll have Humpty Dumpty put back together again and we’ll get back to our Sunday recap posts and a whole bunch of other goodness.


Other places to gather around The 70273 Project water cooler:

Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.

Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).

Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.

Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.

Follow the pinterest board for visual information.

Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)

Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.

And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.

Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.


  1. Sandy Snowden

    You are a trooper. May you be amazingly surprised when you actually find out how much you have by now. Hugs, Sandy in the UK – just sending off 86 to Margaret in Durham from my Contemporary Textile group.

    • whollyjeanne

      Ha – and I just sent you an email moments ago! A big hug to you and your fellow members of TVCT. As for the # of blocks, I think we’re all going to be happy. xo

  2. moonbeam

    Oh lordy.. The math and checking involved in all that makes my poor little head spin. I am just glad that you are closing in on your goal! <3

    • whollyjeanne

      Moonbeam, you know better than most how hard I’m trying to make friends with numbers. xo

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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