Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Adapting Quilt Patterns -- Part II

What is the first thing about a quilt design that catches your eye?  Have you stopped to think about that?  For me, it's often the setting of a quilt and so I've trained myself to look beyond the color and the specific quilt block paying attention to the design of the setting.  How does the sashing or alternate blocks affect the overall design.  And when I find one I like, I save that idea to apply later with my own quilt blocks.

This is the second way to adapt a quilt pattern -- use the setting of the design. I'll use two of my patterns, Mary's Holiday Baskets and Courthouse Stars to illustrate my point.

Holiday Baskets is a basic basket block set together with a simple alternate setting block that is then modified around the outside edges to create an interesting overall design of framed basket blocks.  That alternate block frame can be used with any block that looks good set on-point!  The easiest adaptation of this setting will be to use the same size quilt block that is a "5-patch" block (which means it can be draw on a grid of squares that is 5 by 5).  But if you aren't afraid of the math, you could adapt it to other sizes of 5 by 5 grid blocks.

Courthouse Stars was the last mystery quilt I offered to my customers in 2005 before closing my shop in Willoughby, Ohio.  It uses Courthouse Log Cabin blocks to frame a double star block and has been a very popular pattern with my customers.  Once again, the star block which is the design block could be replaced with other blocks.  Modifying the size of the log cabin blocks would be fairly easy math -- might be as simple as adding a strip. 

I think either of these settings would be perfect for a set of blocks from a block of the month project.  I have a couple stacks of these languishing on my UFQ (unfinished quilts) shelves.  Either setting would frame up the blocks nicely and the setting would be my unique touch.

So here's a design challenge exercise.  Look through your favorite patterns for quilts that use an alternate block setting.  Sort out which are the design blocks and which are the setting blocks or sashing that make the overall design.  Now think about other blocks you could substitute for the "design" blocks.  You don't have to start a new quilt!  Just think.  By exploring this idea in your head, you'll start to look at patterns in more depth and see the possibilities beyond what is printed on the pattern cover.   

Next week, we'll look at adapting a quilt pattern by changing the scale of it!

Mary Huey

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