Sewing · Something to Think About

Little Bits


“Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
“What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.”
by Margaret Renkl, from her book, Late Migrations


I have spent the better part of the last two weeks working with my daughter on her Fall 2021 Lookbook on packaging for mac makers, published Tuesday. She purchased Affinity Publisher and took a stab at working in it, her first time using some sort of design software. (Good for her.) We used all her photos of all her macs (she had over 400, but we winnowed it down to about 70); however, I was quite entranced with Page 19 of her book: it was about little bits, and how these ends of ribbon bolts or tiny clips, or shaped pieces of paper could embellish a package.


The artists above (L) Alayne Spafford and (R) Anna Mac are making art with a gallery of tiny things.

All my life I’ve been enamored of little things. As a child, I once shaved the wood off the tips of 7 colored pencils with my father’s discarded razor blade, broke off the tips, and made a teeny set of colored pencils, complete with their own paper case (also handmade). I have collections of tiny things, in jars, in boxes, in drawers. Obviously I was drawn to the sewing world, with all of its collections of tiny bits (thimbles, needles, wee scissors and of course, scraps).

So when our Inland Modern Quilt Guild decided to host Berene Campbell, showing her idea of a Mini-mod Block Swap (they are all 1 1/2″ finished), I was all in. Earlier this year, I helped make advertisements for the guild’s blog, and I put together all those shapes using Affinity Designer. (Again, I mention this software so you know you can buy an excellent digital design software for about $55. That’s $55 once, not a monthly fee.)

She uses this concept–of going around and talking to Guilds as a charity fundraiser, but the guilds will sort out how to set up the swap, and she gives good support. Her series of YouTube videos help anyone make tiny bits of a block.

Three of my four batches of bitty blocks (2″ unfinished) have arrived.

All arrayed in rows.

I made a bunch to send out but I got confused and made too many. They joined what I had received.

An afternoon of playing with solid scraps yielded this bundle of wee blocks.

The challenge from our Guild is to make something for our December meeting from all our blocks. I have an idea, but it’s a bit of one, so I’m holding onto it and letting it grow. I did pretty well in the last challenge, winning the vote at the Guild Meeting. That made me more than a bit happy. Thank you, Guild Members.


I read many bits of happiness when I read all your comments on your Happy Days. From start to finish, they were all wonderful, inspiring. I loved how often they included family and friends, fall traditions, and near misses with disaster. My husband and I read them together, commenting on how often you epitomized the Renkle quote from above, finding how “darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight” and I love that you shared them with me, with others.

I did choose a recipient (Pat A.), and have sent her a note to arrange the mailing of the jelly roll. Thank you again to Sherri McConnell for donating this so I could host the giveaway.

But most of all, thank you for sharing your Little Bits (and some Big Bits) of Happy Days. It was a treasure.

Fall leaves, Alexandria, Virginia: I lived there for a year and ended up scanning so many leaves on my flatbed scanner, as I loved them all and wanted to capture them forever!

7 thoughts on “Little Bits

  1. My favorite way to start a Sunday: Elizabeth’s blog post!!!!! And this one is so, so good – thank you. Have reserved the Margaret Renkl book at the library and look forward to having a go at the tiny blocks. Some days my fingers just won’t have anything to do with tiny pieces of fabric, but other days it’s ok so maybe……. And I live for the day when your daughter starts shipping her macarons 🙂 Thank you dear friend – you’re such a treasure.

  2. Your little bits are super cute. Each little square is so tiny and plays so well with the others. I can’t wait to see what you do with this challenge.

  3. So many good thoughts in this post. I too love tiny things. I once made a shadow box out of a type case and hand made tiny bolts of fabric, tiny fruits, books. . . all sorts of things. Seems so quaint now to think back on that time of my home decor. But I will always love tiny things including your tiny blocks. Adorable!

  4. You’ve lost me on the little bits quilts…I will never work through much of my stash if I make such tiny things! I’m old enough to be concerned about that, too! I so agree with the beauty of the leaves in Alexandria, VA though…we lived there for about 3 years when my husband was in the Air Force…fall there is beautiful! Thanks again for the jelly roll win! I still can’t believe it!

  5. I think I’ll write this quote somewhere to keep it handy: “What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.”

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