When thinking about your next quilt, do you go for someone’s pattern or draw up your own pattern? Some quilters like the design work done for them with the measurements and colour scheme planned out. This is a great way to develop your confidence when learning to quilt. Down the track you may want to venture out of your comfort zone and develop your own patterns. It seems like everyone is bringing out their own line of patterns nowadays.
When you get to this point, a few questions may enter your mind, such as:
- Can I do it?
- What if it doesn’t work?
- Do I want to create a traditional with a twist, art or contemporary quilt?
- How do I figure out the fabric measurements?
- What technique do I want to use?
It’s a big yes, you can do it.
Have faith in your abilities. The best thing about doing your own work is that no one’s going to know if you make a mistake on an original design. It was designed that way!
Well, what if it doesn’t work?
Is the world going to end? Try making a small sample of the quilt to experiment with design, colour and technique before tackling a larger project. If the quilt doesn’t work out the way you envisioned it, you can take it apart, redesign it or give it away. The point is you tried something new. You don’t get just one chance to create an original design so try, try again. You are going to learn something from each quilt. You may come back to that quilt in the future and feel that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
Have you put off making an original design because someone, somewhere in your past told you that you couldn’t draw? You have my permission to throw away their comments and explore your creative side. Who cares what they think? I have taught many people to quilt and am always shocked at the numbers who were told they couldn’t draw or art was a waste of time and they were banned from art by their parents. What awful things to say to kids! Whilst not all art is to my taste, I would never tell someone not to pursue their creative side. It’s your opinion that matters.
If you struggle to draft patterns on paper, try using the computer. It’s a lot of fun and makes the process much faster and easier. There are many illustration programs available from free to expensive. I’m pretty sure that I would never have achieved the designs I’ve created without the computer. I’m a doodler, not a da Vinci but the computer fills in a lot of the gaps to get me where I need to be. I manipulate photos of landscapes to create patterns.
Traditional with a twist
What kind of quilts do you admire? If you aren’t feeling too adventurous for your first original quilt, you can put your own twist on a traditional pattern. What alternative layouts can you try with traditional blocks? Can you add some appliqué to traditional patchwork blocks?
I have an extensive fabric stash and don’t bother working it out. Obviously I measure borders and make sure I have enough of any fabric to create the patch. If you were making a quilt pattern for someone else or to sell, you would want to note how much of each fabric you use. There are quilt design programs and calculators on the market that can also work out how much fabric you require. These can also take the direction of the pattern into account if needed. If I’m going to get a quilt valued, I would estimate how much fabric I used as they factor that into the valuation. The trouble with a lot of my quilts is that many patches range from 1/8th of an inch to 2 inches long so it’s hard for me to give an accurate figure.
What techniques do you want to try? Do you want to mix a couple of techniques to make your quilt work? I’ve never really been into appliqué but in the last couple of years I’ve wanted to explore what I could do with it. I researched new techniques and decided if I was going to do it, that I would do it my way. I wanted my quilt to be original and try adding a 3D element to it. I found I was having fun doing my own thing and making my own rules for the quilt.
Personally, original quilts appeal to me the most. The quilter has tried something new and followed their heart. This isn’t to say that a quilt made from a pattern is less valued in my eyes. You may never know the reason why the quilter chose that pattern. It may be a simple pattern that they can take to the hospital to do whilst visiting a loved one.
Once you make the decision to create something original, you’ll be entering a whole new world. It can be a scary not knowing what it’s going to look like but it’s worth the journey. You know you can do it…and you’ll be glad you did!
Happy designing and quilting,