Way Back When… Are You Up For a Challenge?

Observation, 2015

When I visit quilt shows, whether large or small, I notice a lot of trends.  I see many quilts in the same patterns, I see quilts that are made up of multiple fabrics from a designer’s line of fabric, and I see collections of quilts made by quilters who have obviously all taken the same class.

NOTE: There is nothing wrong with any of this.  But it makes me think.

When I started quilting way back in the mid-70’s, I picked up a stack of quilt books at the library downtown.  They came home with me, and I spent several weeks looking at sketches of block patterns.  I found a few that I liked, and whipped out some graph paper, a ruler and a pencil and set to work drafting the patterns myself.  When one of the patterns really spoke to me, I enlarged it on another sheet of graph paper, then made my own templates using an old sheet of developed Xray film (not template plastic).

Once the templates were created, I drove to a local quilt shop and looked through the available fabric. I found what I was looking for, estimated about how much I thought I would need, bought it and headed home to pre-wash and press.  The next six months found me hand piecing and appliqueing whenever I could.  Alas, I learned that I had not purchased enough of one of the fabrics, so I bought one that looked close.  It later turned out to be not close at all, but I still love that quilt, with all its flaws.

Image found online at http://blog.ziyeliu.com/python-sampler-quilt.html

I learned a lot in the process of making this quilt.  I know now that many quilters who have made this pattern hand pieced it rather than appliqued it as I did.  And that’s OK.  I learned how to measure the pieces required in a pattern and how to use that information to more carefully calculate fabric quantity.  I learned the importance of the quarter-inch seam allowance.  I learned to trust my own judgment in selecting fabrics that are pleasing to me rather than fabrics that follow a trend.  (Note: when you decide to trust your own judgment in fabric selection, you find your comfort level and learn what colors and patterns make you happy.)

This quilt (just a little portion of it shown above) was made by me from start to finish.  It was not designed to be a show quilt, it was not created to please anyone but me.  The sole purpose of this quilt was to experiment, to take a quilt from thought, planning, measuring, choices, practice, learning, and final product… to create something that I could cuddle my little boys in while I read to them or while we watched television.


Give yourself permission to take a quilt from start to finish.  Visit the library or your own bookshelf or one of dozens of websites that provide sketches of block patterns.  Put yourself into each step of the quiltmaking process, and don’t be in a hurry about it.  Enjoy each step.  Learn from it.  Allow yourself to choose fabrics that please YOU, and try not to follow fabric trends.  Follow your own heart.  See what develops!


Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts!, Copyright 2015.
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