Do you always go for the standard setting of blocks when making a quilt?
Now that the lines between traditional and contemporary styles are well and truly blurred, it may be time to try something a little different! There are three categories of quilters when it comes to layouts and quilting designs:
- Those who sew the blocks, then look at the layout, and then choose quilting designs to fit.
- Those who improvise from start to finish (if only we could all be so bold).
- Those who design the quilt from start to finish before the first fabric is chosen.
The third group will have the most layout options as they won’t be constrained by block sizes and shapes so they can incorporate more unusual quilting designs into the layout. I know part of the thrill of quilting is not knowing exactly how it is going to turn out but I believe you make an original quilt even with fairly traditional patchwork or appliqué. These quilters may choose the quilting designs first and then design or alter traditional blocks to suit the design.
I often create unusual quilting designs that would be fantastic for unusual layouts. They have some areas for partial blocks or complementary designs. Here are a few from my books. What could you do with them?
One of the most important questions when designing the quilt is to decide on whether the patchwork/appliqué or quilting (or both) will be the feature. This will dictate if the quilting will be fairly plain or something fancier. In my world, plain doesn’t mean boring! I like to think of designs similar to the above as acting like sashing.
You may be thinking that no design will fit into these unusual shapes. This is where you can alter the block you are thinking of using or design something to fit. I can assure you when a design is put through the design process I use in my book, The design master plan, there will always be ones to fit the areas, even if it is from a totally different design. All of the designs seen here can be found within my three books.
Star design sashing or borders can easily be altered to have more or less points to accommodate the main star.
When designing a four block design, I tend to put a design in the centre as I find looking at traditional four block quilts that the first thing my eye is drawn to is the empty space in the centre before heading out in search of the focal point(s). Here are just two options I use for achieving this.
In this next arrangement, I created a little block to put in the negative spaces around my main four blocks. I’ve also used a circular sashing block around my square designs. I am sensitive to not making the extra blocks so large that they overpower my quilt by making it too busy.
These tips and about 120 more are featured in The design master plan: creating motifs and borders. I have a different approach to creating designs where I manipulate a simple idea by putting it through a series of steps and let the design evolve in many different ways. I don’t start off by trying to design a block from scratch. I used to do that, but I would just end up staring at a blank piece of paper for 20 mins (feeling very frustrated) and then run off to find the nearest box of chocolates.
If it seems like I have too much fun in designing layouts…well, I do! I hope these ideas will give you some inspiration for your next quilt.