|A young couple with the baby quilt I designed|
for them in their nursery colors.
I am not a super creative person. When it comes to quilting art, I am pretty good at taking someone else's creativity and "tweaking" it just a bit to make it my own. I have a hard time following a pattern as written, mainly because I don't want my quilt to be exactly like anyone else's. For this same reason, I rarely buy a kit, and if I do, I always make some changes by adding my own fabric or changing up the pattern. I want my quilts to be "my" quilts, not a replica of someone else's quilt.
One way to insure that a quilt is my own unique creation is to design my own pattern. Early on in my quilting career, my mom taught me to take a piece of graph paper, use the squares on it for sizing, and draw up a quilt pattern. After it was drawn up, she taught me how to figure the math so that I would know exactly what I needed to buy to make the quilt! How fun!
|Exchange blocks on the design wall for creative inspiration.|
|A quilt I designed for blocks from another|
I have used this skill many times over the past 25 or so years to design blocks and quilts for the annual NIFS Shop Hop here in Nebraska for my mom's quilt shop in Kearney, NE. My block design was used for the AMB solids state quilt that went to Houston. Some of my easy patterns have been published in a NE farm journal, and I have made a few patterns to sell. The baby quilt on this page was designed originally for Shop Hop, and I have found that it can be used for all kinds of fast, fun quilts. I made a modern one out of solids. I made a Husker one for one of my husband's wrestlers who was in the hospital, and it works great for a baby quilt!
The really great part about this baby quilt is that, because I designed it, I know there is not another like it anywhere. It's a special gift!
Another situation that sends me to my graph paper is designing for block exchange quilts. Sure, I could find all kinds of patterns that would allow me to use my blocks, if they were all the same size. But, it is a lot of fun to make up my own pattern. The red and white blocks are a combination of 6", 9", and 12"...not an easy pattern to find. I saw a quilt on Pinterest that inspired me to design a quilt for these blocks. I will have plenty of white space to show off my quilting!
The quilt pattern on graph paper is one that I designed this week for a set of blocks that I won't be receiving until next January. I knew the blocks would all be 12". I also knew that I wanted to use flying geese in my setting. I first decided on a size for my quilt. Then, I drew my 12" blocks with 4" in between to allow for my flying geese. As I was designing, I started to think about how I could place the geese in an unexpected and creative way. I decided that they should follow each other all around the quilt. With my quilt designed, I did the math, figured out how much fabric it would take for my flying geese and my lattice, and purchased what I needed. Now, all I have to do is make roughly 250 flying geese before next January! When the blocks are exchanged, I will have my geese and my design ready to go.
There are computer programs out there to help you design quilts. You can even plug in your exact fabric choices to see how it looks and the program will figure the math for you to tell you how much yardage to buy. I have one of those programs, and have used it. I prefer the graph paper. It may be "old school" but there is just something I love about drawing it out, erasing, and drawing it again. I like using my imagination to think about what it will look like with different fabrics in different places. I think it's good for my mind to have to figure out the math for myself. Don't get me wrong. I love my computer and all the great things it can do for me, but when it comes to quilt design, I will continue to design "old school"!