Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

& her barefoot heart

Differences and Commonalities


Thank you.
I’m sorry.

Two things I say a lot these days.

“Thank you for being a part of The 70273 Project.”
“Thank you for sending the beautiful blocks.”
“Thank you for your kind, gracious words.”

I firmly believe – nay, I Know in my Bones – that the more you say Thank you, the more you have to say Thank you for.

“I’m sorry this note is so long in coming.”
“I’m sorry for my tardy reply.”
“I’m sorry I am running behind.”

More and more I fear the same is true for apologies: the more I say “I’m sorry”, the more I have to say I’m sorry for.

To those of you participating in The 70273 Project, please do not mistake my tardiness for a lack of appreciation or caring. This is not how I fantasized it would be. I am Super Woman. I got this.

Yeah, right.

Living with The Engineer, a Mother who lives in another state, a grand baby on the way in yet another state, Nancy who lives in still a different state (This may or may not be a metaphor.), a daughter and friends who live far away — continuing to stitch Nancy’s drawings — stitching quilts for family members — researching and writing books — developing 3 Hymns of Cloth series — developing a writing cloth workshop (I’m so excited – you should ask me about it sometime!) — giving presentations for The 70273 Project and performing/creating one-woman storytelling performances? No problem. Super Woman is at her most dazzling when juggling.

Hundreds of blocks coming in every week that need to be processed at 30 minutes/block? No problem. Super Woman eats systems for breakfast.

Social media, blog posts, emails, magazine articles, tv productions? No problem. Super Woman does communications in her sleep.

Wait. Sleep?

Super Woman used to regularly pull off all-nighters, getting her work done – creative and otherwise – while others slept. It was the only way, really, and it worked, leaving no consequences visible to the naked eye. But Super Woman walks a lot more these days or is getting a little age on her or something. Whatever the reason, her head demands to lay itself down on a pillow at night, and that has shaved off an entire day’s worth of productivity.

So to those of you who’ve made blocks for The 70273 Project; have offered to piece tops and quilt quilts; and to those of you who will, at some point in time, become part of The 70273 Project in one way or another ::: Thank you . . . and I’m sorry.

How ‘bout this . . .

Dear The 70273 Project Makers, Piecers, Quilters, Contributors,

  1. Thank you for bearing with me as I get the wrinkles ironed out of my systems.
  2. Thank you for being patient as I try to stay out from behind the 8-ball and occasionally fall and skin my knees and palms.
  3. Thank you for thunking me upside the head every now ’n then to tell me that this is not a project that lends itself to being caught up.
  4. Thank you for reminding me that The 70273 Project is not about being perfect in any way, shape, or form.
  5. Thank you for encouraging me to remember that Super Woman would not be here had she lived in Germany in 1940 because while she fantasizes about things being different, the reality is that not a single day of her life has she been perfect or behaved perfectly.
  6. Thank you for being a part of The 70273 Project, for sharing your stories, for spreading the word, for getting the bigger picture and deeper meaning of this project.
  7. And last but certainly not least, thank y’all for not once crossing your arms, tapping your toes, looking over your glasses,  and harrumphing out of the room in a huff.  Yes, that’s right. Not a single one of you – and remember, I’ve heard from people in 60 countries now – has huffed and puffed and threatened to blow my house down. Not. A. Single. One. To a person, y’all have been gracious, supportive, patient, appreciative, encouraging, and enthusiastically involved. So why am I writing this post? Because I thought you’d like to eavesdrop on a Committee of Jeanne conversation.

Super Woman
(who tells you this while trying to untwist her cape from around her neck so she can untangle those darn knots)

Week 10 in Review

the 70273 project badge

Week 10 comes to a close. Can you believe it? Here’s what marks this week:



~ It was unusually fun opening the mail this week, as I  received an  envelope decorated with fun stickers and great stamps (I’ve been a stamp collector since 1st grade) that made smile. Thank you Margaret Blank.



~ I also received a heavily decorated envelope – and look! a dahlia – won’t be too long till I’m posting The Daily Dahlia for the third year! – from Susan Getchell, Eleanor Macmillan, and Anonymous 6.


~ In the envelope with her yummy blocks, Chloe Grice stuck a handmade envelope, a handwritten letter, and a sea glass heart.


~ Author extraordinaire Susan Clotfelter Jimison stuck a book and handwritten note in with her beautiful blocks.

~ My wonderful attorney crafted a shiny, new Provenance Form that should help us sail through with any book publisher or venue without interruption. Thank you, Chris Arena.

~ I continue to hone and streamline my systems. This week I decided to scan blocks instead of going through the rigamarole of using my phone to take pictures of each block; bought a basting gun that allows me to attach the number in one fell swoop instead of having to stitch the numbers onto each block; and just last night I decided to print the numbers onto a sheet of yardstick paper instead of handwriting each number on a scrap of fabric.

~ Even though we don’t have the first of what will likely be 800+ quilts made, I can’t help myself: I’m already laying down plans for The 70273 Project Bon Voyage Gathering. We are going to have so much fun!

~ I’ve heard from people in 60 countries.

~ And last but not least, drum roll, please: as of tonight, 892 blocks have arrived in 50 envelopes/boxes.

Thank y’all for all you do to move The 70273 Project along. On we Grow!

Take Your Readers to Work, Part 4: Cataloguing, Etc.


Now that the blocks have been received, checkedphotographed, and numbered,  it’s time to:

6. Catalogue.

After auditioning several different programs and apps, I opted to use a program called Records (because I can use drag-and-drop to design the form, plus there’s a one-time charge for the software instead of a monthly fee to use another program I liked – a fee that we all know will increase over time, and I’ll have to pay up or else) to create a record for each quilt block, entering the following information for every block:

Block #
Envelope #
Maker’s Name
Maker’s Email Address
Maker’s Mailing Address
Maker’s Phone Number
Maker’s Social Media Links
Quilt # the Block Appears In
Date the Block was Received
Date the Block was Profiled in Social Media
Date the Thank You note was sent
Size of Block
Date Email Confirmation of Receipt was Sent
Does the Maker wish to remain anonymous?
Is the block made In Honor Of or In Memory Of anyone in particular
and if so, whom?
Then I attach a photo of the block and a scanned copy of The Provenance Form accompanying the block then enter any notes about the block and its Maker gleaned from emails, facebook, instagram, or other social media outlets.

An aside: I have similar databases for Prospective Piecers and Prospective Quilters where I note who has raised their hand to piece a quilt top and/or quilt a quilt and how to get in touch with them. And there’s a  databases for Piecers and one for Quilters – those who actually do the work. The Piecers database contains things like contact info, social media links for giving them some love, block numbers sent, along with dates sent and received, and any photos the Piecers send along the way. The Quilters database contains similar things: contact info for the Quilter, the finished quilt number, social media links so I can point others in their direction, what block numbers are contained in the quilt, who pieced the quilt, date the quilt top was sent and the date the quilt was received, and photos of the finished quilt.

This seems a fine time to say if you’re interested and willing to become a Piecer and/or Quilter, please let me know cause it won’t be long till I’m shooing bundles of blocks out the door.

Step 7: Tag.

Once everything is in the computer, I attach the numbers to each block using my shiny new basting gun.

Step 8: Backup.

Because I am – say it with me: paranoid safety conscious, I built in some redundancy by saving copies of everything – photos, scans, databases – in multiple places. Four places, to be exact.

Step 9: Send.

Once everything is documented and catalogued to my paranoid safety conscious satisfaction, I bundle up a batch of blocks and send to the Piecers, people who have offered to piece the quilt tops together. The idea is that each Piecer will send the top directly on to the Quilter, the person who’s offered to add the batting, backing, and binding (or facing), and do the quilting.

I’m just about ready to send the first bundle of blocks to the gracious and talented woman who will piece our first quilt top – drum roll, please – Kitty SorgenKitty has been vital to the success of The 70273 Project from the get-go, helping me figure things out, soothing my furrowed brow when I get anxious and tired, telling others about the project, and hogtying visitors to her machine providing materials and time for friends and family to use her sewing machine to make blocks when they come to visit. And who will do the quilting for the first quilt? None other than our very own MJ Kinman who is, as I’ve told you, our resident energizer bunny. When the idea first came to call, I immediately messaged MJ because no idea is too big for her, and she’s the kind of girl who will say “Okay, you’ve really gone too far this time” or something to that effect if she thinks it’s true. I’ll tell you more about MJ in an upcoming blog post. In the meantime, trot over to Facebook and find photos of her diamond quilts. They are nothing short of mesmerizing.


Well, y’all, this concludes our tour of What Happens Behind the Scenes at The 70273 Project Heartquarters. We know you had other options, so we appreciate you flying with us. If you would please take a minute to remove any trash from the seat pocket in front of you, we’d really appreciate it cause that allows us to continue scanning, stitching, cataloguing, etc. And if you would please slide the seat belt adjustor/clicker mechanism to the very end of its belt, the person taking the seat after you will love you forever for making them feel fit and skinny when they have to reduce the size of the belt so drastically.

Take Your Readers to Work, part 3: Numbering & Scanning


We’ve received and opened the envelopes containing blocks for The 70273 Project, and we’ve photographed the blocks, so you might think it’s time to bundle up a batch of blocks and send to the Piecer who’s going to create the quilt top . . . but we’re not quite to that point yet. I still have a few miles to go before I ship, like:

Step 4: Numbering.



BlocksNumberedBlocks made by Michelle Banton

This is where that old familiar expect-the-worst mindset finally becomes more helpful than embarrassing. . . I write numbers on strips of fabric, making a mark to indicate the bottom of the number because when working with numbers up to 70273, all kinds of rather disastrous things could happen. Numbers like 666 could read 999 when turned upside down and 119 could become 611. You get the picture.

UPDATE: On 4/24/2016, a light bulb went off, and now I print numbers on a sheet of yardstick paper and cut them with scissors.

Once the block is photographed scanned (see below), I snip the lowest number off the strip and pin it to a spot on one of the red X’s. Later (after cataloguing – stay tuned, that’s tomorrow) I’ll go back and stitch the numbers down – lightbulb moment – Yesterday The Engineer said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you had one of those things they use in stores to attach the price tag to clothes?” and you know what: THEY DO! I ordered myself a basting gun that will be here at the end of the week, and I’m thinking it will take much less time than stitching down each number on each block. (And I ordered the shortest tags so the numbers will remain out of the way of Piecers and Quilters.)

5. Step 5: Scan.

I scan the Provenance Form, which doesn’t need any more explanation . . . except to say that I had yet another lightbulb moment a couple of days ago, and I’ve shaved about 5-7 minutes off photographing because I now scan blocks, too! No more photographing with the phone, editing, airdropping, etc. Now it’s scan and zap, image in the proper folder on the computer and titled, to boot. I love when my brain works.


Just one more day on the Behind the Scenes Tour. See y’all tomorrow.

Weeks 8 and 9 in Review

the 70273 project badge

Exciting things happened during Week 8 of The 70273 Project:

~ Alana Sheeren’s podcast aired. Give a listen here.

~ I was interviewed for a magazine article. Details when it comes out

~ Blog readers can now translate into 91+ different languages

Block200MichelleBanton copy

~  Block  #200 made by Michelle Banton was catalogued.

Block273MJKinman3.5x6.5 copy

~ Block #273 made by MJ Kinman was catalogued.

Block300LeeDurbin6.5x9.5 copy

~ Block #300 by Lee Durbin was catalogued.

Block400DennieleBohannon3.5x6.5 copy

~ Block #400 made by Denniele Bohannon was catalogued.

~ The 70273 Project was featured in a blog post penned by Margaret Blank

Week #9 has been pretty exciting, too:

~ Meredith Shadwill asked me to contribute a writing prompt for the writing group she facilitates called Cultivate. My prompt is titled “Commemorate” (surprised?), and it goes live May 6. If you are interested in receiving Meredith’s prompts, head this way. Meredith also facilitated my guest appearance in the #StoryDam twitter chat.

~ I have 639 blocks in hand.


~ Block #500 made by Margaret Williams was catalogued.


~ Block #600 made by Laurie Dunn was catalogued.

~ I’ve been contacted by people in 58 countries.

Kitty Sorgen has become our coxswain, breaking our big goal of 70,273 blocks into breadcrumbs, giving us goals that step us on up to 70,273, and she encourages us all the way. Kitty has now said we need to collect 1000 blocks by June 1. (I think we can beat that.)

And on we grow, y’all.

Take Your Readers to Work Day, part 2: Photograph


Getting, opening, and smoking over the mail goes pretty fast. Then things slow down a bit as we move to . . .

Step 3: Photograph.
When I first began receiving envelopes, I worked on my cutting/project table to open the envelopes, then crossed to the desk to get to the computer to log them in, but even though this is a little ole’ bitty spot of studio, that still ate up minutes which add up. So Plan B was to create a photography cart that I can roll right up alongside my desk, substituting a quarter turn in my chair for the steps across the floor. UPDATE: Insert a thunk up side the head as I realize I can streamline this process by scanning each block instead of photographing it. So I’ve transformed that photography cart into a scanning cart.

Note: That red table? it’s my Writing Nest, and it once belonged to a library then to my paternal grandmother. I have photos (at least in my mind) of eating at this table while Granddaddy fed Grandmother after a stroke rendered her hands completely useless. Sweet, right?

Another note: The green chair? It belonged to my paternal granddaddy who was the town’s banker. I’m finishing up research to write a book about the fateful weekend in May, 1933 when 5 bandits came knocking at Granddaddy’s door, wanting to rob the bank. Even back then the vault door was on a time lock, so they did what made sense to the Bonnie & Clyde wannabes at the time: they held Granddaddy, Grandmother, my Great-Grandmother, my Daddy (who was 5 years old), my Uncle Gene (who’d just been born. I’m named after him, charged with  keeping his memory alive because he was killed before I was born.) (It’s not a burden but an honor.), and Miss Josie, the midwife (who’d just help deliver Uncle Gene) hostage overnight. This green leather chair is the very one Granddaddy sat in at the bank till the day he died, making loans to folks who forgot to bring their checkbook when they came to town to get groceries (without making them sign anything, mind you because trust ruled back then), initialing 50-cent deposits of adorable granddaughters, and other stuff like ordering money that was delivered through the U. S. Postal Service (and explains why the bandits didn’t get as much loot as they’d hoped for).

Back to our current story,  already in progress . . .

Block312NancyBurch6.5x9.5 copy

The top of the photography cart is covered with a white placemat Delta Airlines once used for first class passengers.  I purchased it at a thrift shop for a quarter, just knowing I’d find a use for it, and I did. I also bought several of the thin blankets Delta offered to first class passengers, paying a quarter a piece for them and using them as batting in some quilts. Again, back to the story . . . I snap a photo of each block using my phone, then edit it in my phone, cropping it and throwing a little more light on it because even though I use my shiny new Ott light with daylight bulb, I’m shooting at an odd angle which sometimes creates a shadow effect. (But I have a Plan C, thanks to a video Rosemary Claus-Gray posted on facebook last week that may just take care of the lighting. More as that part of the story unfolds.)

Once the editing is done, I make the aforementioned quarter turn in my chair and use the magic of Airdrop to shoo the photo into the downloads folder on my computer. When Airdrop doesn’t work, I have to email the photo to myself, open the email, download the photo, then . . . Using the downloads folder as a holding tank, I label each photo thusly: “Block312NancyBurch6.5×9.5.jpg” (which is the block above). I do this for each block, one at a time, so I don’t get anything mixed up. It’s not that any two blocks look alike, it’s that there are a lot of moving parts to this, and I don’t want to lose or mix up anything.



Sometimes my four-legged Studio Assistant is a big help offers comments and suggestions.

But wait –  we’re not done yet. More tomorrow, so check back or subscribe so you don’t miss a bit of this riveting tale I’m weaving . . .

Take Your Readers to Work Day, part 1: Receive

Today, I thought we’d take a tour of The 70273 Project  Heartquarters and see what happens around here when I’m not eating bonbons and watching tv.


Step 1: Go to the post office.
First thing after breakfast, The Engineer heads into town to make the Cashiers Circuit – grocery store, bank, library, and post office. It’s much more fun picking up the mail, he tells me, when you know that everything tucked under your arm isn’t a bill.

Cataloguing1Step 2: Open and make notes.
Once the envelopes are deposited on the project table in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug (my studio), I open the envelopes and check certain things. I make sure the Provenance Form is completed and legible, for example, and read the notes (if any) attached about who the block is in honor or memory of – which is always so touching.  I check the blocks to make sure there are two red X’s on a white background and that they are in one of the three required sizes. (Most are, thank goodness!) Then in the upper righthand corner of the form, I note the date the envelope was received, the number in which the envelope was received, how many blocks are in the envelope, and the block numbers.

Why do I number the envelopes, you ask? Because I’m a nut sometimes people send blocks in batches, and well, it just seems like a good idea to number the envelopes, too. And it’s another bit of information I might need somewhere along the road, so best to capture it now. (I have actually needed the envelope numbers for 2 reasons: one is for revealing and profiling in blog posts and another time I had 2 Provenance Forms and blocks I couldn’t mentally place. But I saw they were in an envelope with another Maker’s blocks, and question answered. You just never know.


I declare, many of the envelopes y’all use are pretty enough to be a quilt. And some of y’all really know how to make a girl chortle and cheer right out loud what with the little notes y’all tuck in with the blocks.

Well, that’s enough for today cause I have envelopes to open and blocks to catalogue, so our tour will continue tomorrow same time, same place. No need to buy another ticket, you’re good for the entire tour however long it takes. See y’all tomorrow . . .

A Week of Milestone Markers

Block200MichelleBanton copy

First there is Block #200
made by Michelle Tade Banton
who has also offered to piece and/or quilt
when the time comes
(and at the rate blocks are flowing in,
I don’t think it will be all that long
before I’m knocking on her door with a bundle of blocks.)


Block273MJKinman3.5x6.5 copy

Then there is Block #273
a 3.5″ x 6.5″ beauty
made by MJ Kinman,
(our little energizer bunny,
has also volunteered to help
piece and quilt and catalogue and
apply for grants and a host of other things
that will need to be done as we grow along).
Now why do we celebrate Block #273?
Because, as Sarah Meredith so beautifully says
in The 70273 Project Facebook Group:
“273 is a special number. It represents the specifics of the people we mourn and celebrate here. It represents the refusal to round out the numbers for expediency, or to leave any One out. Beautiful #273, may you rest in peace.”


Block300LeeDurbin6.5x9.5 copy

Block #300 is a 6.5 x 9.5″ beauty
made by Lee Durbin
who sends along a note
promising more blocks to come.

Block400DennieleBohannon3.5x6.5 copy

And we round out the week with Block #400
made by Denniele Bohannon.
Denniele also got her 6 year old granddaughter
involved, so stay tuned for more about that.

Thank you
Michelle, MJ, Lee, Denniele
and all the rest of you who are
making blocks
and offering to do more
to see this project through
to completion.

All these milestones –
and I was only home for two days.
I can scarce imagine what is waiting for me
when I get home and open the mail next week.

Not only has she become one of my favorite people in the world,
Kitty Sorgen has also become the official coxswain
for The 70273 Project,
and she’s set another goal for us:
1000 blocks by June 1.
And there you have it –
something to work towards.
So, as Kitty says,
Ready . . . set . . . SEW!
(or paint or stamp or draw).

Help us meet (or beat) Kitty’s goal
by continuing to make blocks, of course,
and get your friends and family involved, too . . .
If you’ve subscribed to the blog posts,
forward them to others when they land in your inbox
and encourage them to become involved.
Share photos and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.
Tell folks in your clubs and at family reunions and
at church about The 70273 Project.
The more people we get involved,
the quicker we can stand together
in the presence of these quilts,
commemorating the 70273 people we mourn
and meeting each other in person.

That’s gonna’ be One Memorable Day, y’all.

Mail Call: Envelopes 9, 10, 11, and 12

Block75SharleenJespersen copy

Sharleen Jespersen, who has a habit of making beautiful quilts
for really good causes,
makes this beautiful 9.5″ x 12.5″ block for The 70273 Project
in honor of her daughter and tucks it inside Envelope #9.

Thank you, Sharleen. I’m honored and delighted
that you’ve chosen to be a part of
The 70273 Project.

Block76KathleenLoomis copy

I met Kathleen Loomis at a fiber arts workshop
in Louisville, KY a couple of years ago,
and I was delighted to open Envelope #10
to find this 3.5 x 6.5 block from her.

Kathleen writes:
” I am working on a quilt that references the American flag,
and right now I’m alternating
between sewing on the red and white areas.
I had lots of different white fabrics in piles
on my cutting table,
so I grabbed the top one off the pile
and cut a block for you and The 70273 Project.

The red parts are being heavily stitched
and cut into ‘postage stamps’.
I assemble a large panel of quilt sandwich
and then stitch and stitch and stitch
for a while before cutting it into 1-1/2 inch squares.
Sometimes at the end of the cutting
there’s a very skinny pice left over,
which of course I would never throw away
even if it’s only 1/4 inch wide.
So I picked up a skinny bit that was sitting
on my sewing table, cut it into four parts,
and stitched them onto the white ground fabric.
I would estimate total work time at 2.7 minutes.”

Thank you, Kathleen. Look forward to seeing that quilt
that lent us some pieces for The 70273 Project.

Block84JulieTaylor copy3.5″ x 6.5″

Block85JulieTaylor copy3.5″ x 6.5″

Block86JulieTaylor copy6.5″ x 9.5″

Block87JulieTaylor copy9.5″ x 12.5″

In Envelope #11,
we find four blocks created by Julie Taylor.
Julie writes:
“Cecilie had her physical and mental challenges
and passed at too young of an age.”

Thank you, Julie.
You pay beautiful homage to Cecilie.

Block88CatherineHill copy

Hailing from the U.K., we have Envelope #12
containing this 6.5″ x 9.5″ block made by
Catherine Hill.
It makes me think of two friends
holding hands as they go willingly
– because they’re “disabled”
which means they don’t know anything but Trust –
off with the person who ultimately
shepherds them to their death.

Thank you, Catherine, for this block that tells a story.


Have you made some blocks?


Joined the Facebook group?

Liked the Facebook page?

Told three (or more) others about The 70273 Project?

And on we grow . . .
thanks to y’all.

Week 7 in Review


Another week spent out of town dealing with family stuff, but still The 70273 Project rocks and rolls.

~ I now have in my possession 246 blocks.

~ Alana Sheeren interviewed me for her podcast. I’ll post the link when it goes up.

~ I have heard from people in 55 countries.

~ Writers keep mentioning The 70273 Project (I’m compiling a list – stay tuned).

~ Readers keep subscribing.

~ Makers keep joining and making.

Thank y’all for being a part of this project and for keeping it rolling even when I’m tending to family fires.

Forward we go.

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