Before shooting the lock off your wallet for fabrics for your new quilt designs, you need to consider the size of the patches you'll use and the techniques to make them.
If you've quilted for any length of time, you know different techniques take different amounts of material. Some are more fun to stitch. Some are more accurate. Some are faster.
Taking the time to construct sample blocks is the best way to determine if your choices are ones that you'll enjoy.
Because let's face it.
That's a waste of your precious time, patience, money and stash.
On this page you'll learn how to choose the best block size for your quilt designs.
Let's get started.
If you examine your stash of completed quilts, you'll likely find you gravitate towards blocks with units of similar dimension. Perhaps 1" to 1-/2" triangle squares. Or 2-1/2" cut strips.
These sizes are personal to YOU and are particularly useful in determining what things you WON'T like. Won't finish.
In Part 1, we touched on knowing yourself as a quilter...this is a big part of it.
I prefer one with logs no wider than 1" finished. If my quilting time isn't limited, 3/4" wide appeals even more.
When the logs shrink to 1/2" or less, I change techniques—switching from traditional to paper piecing.
She'll CHOOSE to use her pre-cut stash. That's her prerogative.
Her choice is right for HER.
And that's the only thing that really matters.
The choice that's right for YOU. Period.
Designs with units that you're comfortable with—that you enjoy making—get finished. Your fabrics, your time, and your money aren't stored in a forgotten box on the top shelf of a musty old closet.
Those are huge differences in time spent, both cutting AND stitching.
The skill level hasn't changed. You just need to decide if the increased visual complexity of the design is justified by the use of your resources to achieve it.
Now, the same block design made with smaller patches can take significantly more material, too. Let's look at another example.
A quilt top finishing 9" by 9"—well that's really more like a large potholder—has 81"sq/inches of fabric showing. 9" times 9" equals 81", no matter how many patches are used.
Let's figure out how much it takes as we vary their size and number.
Almost 3 times as much material is needed for Option 3 as Option 1—324" versus 110".
Where is it all?
In the seam allowances—naturally!
The trade-off for using all the extra fabric and time is a more intricate looking design. But is it really any harder?
It's still just simple nine-patches. Just more of them.
Consider the 'Omigosh' quilt design.
This version was made according to the pattern with 1" cut strips (like Option 3 above) for both the nine- and four-patches. [Click here to read more about it.]
In this next quilt submitted by one of our readers, the quilter chose to make the pattern with 1-1/2" strips for the nine- and four-patches.
Each quilter knew herself.
And she certainly didn't need to justify her preferences to anyone. Neither do you. Because each quilter chose well for herself, each has a FINISHED quilt she's proud of.
And it's beautiful!
In Part 4 (coming) of our 'Deconstructing Antique Quilt Designs' series, we'll apply these ideas and choose the sizes and techniques for the different block options (discovered in Part 2) to recreate our patchwork designs.