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Articles in our Quilting 101 Series
You have a sewing machine. Your basic quilting tools are purchased
and it's time to start making a quilt. The only thing missing - the pattern.
The theory of the chicken before the egg or the egg before the chicken often
comes into play when you are a quilter. Should you buy the fabric and then the pattern, or, the pattern and then the material? As discussed in Quilting 101 - Choosing Fabric, you may already have a stash of material waiting to be cut and sewn into a
magnificent piece of art.
Picking a pattern may require more effort than you thought since there are
literally thousands out there to choose from. KISS (keep it simple sweetie) is the best
method. Choose a pattern that will keep your interest yet won't frustrate you. Most
patterns are rated beginner/easy, intermediate and experienced/hard. Each should come with a
list of fabric and tools needed to complete the project. If you are absolutely certain
as to the pattern you want, it's still fun to take the time to visit several local quilt shops and look as some of
the samples they may have hanging on the wall. Don't be afraid to talk to the people who work
there and even the ones who are customers. They are all walking encyclopedias on the art
of quilting and will be more than happy to share any little tid bit of knowledge you are willing
Select a small project to start with, such as a lap quilt, table runner or baby quilt. The
larger quilts you will see in books and on the walls of quilt shops are certain to make you ooh
and aah; but let one of these be your reward for finishing your first project.
If you are a first time or novice quilter you may want to take a class to make the inaugural
project. Alternatively, you could purchase a beginner quilting kit or better yet, have a friend that
quilts spend some time with you. Believe me, anyone who quilts is more than willing to get someone else hooked
on his or her favorite pastime; and, you will benefit greatly by having this type of one on one learning
experience. Whatever road you take, don't be afraid to ask questions or open patterns to see just
how easy the instructions are to follow. No one will think you are crazy!
Every quilter has their own preference as to the types of patterns they like to purchase.
Buying a book will definitely give you a greater selection; however, if you are buying
a book because of only one pattern you want, it may not be worth it. Ask the shop owner if the particular
pattern you are looking at comes as a stand-alone. Often as not, it will.
If you really like an individual pattern, rest assured that you would most likely
make several quilts using that same design. By using different fabric colors, borders, bindings
and backings as well as the various finished sizes usually offered; you will make a unique quilt every time.
Hundreds of designers write books filled with patterns. Some of these designers will entice you
with a fabric line to go along with the particular publication.
You are then able to choose the pattern you want and get the exact material used to make the sample
in the book. It does not take long to find the designer that pleases you the most. You may pick out
two or three, but usually, you will have one that gives you everything you want when it comes to quilt
Designers create their own pattern incorporating tried and
true quilt blocks in varying shapes, sizes, color and direction. Look
closely at the patterns to see how often the oldies but goodie blocks jump
out at you. Given a new name to reflect the designer's style, only shows that with a little initiative, imagination and thought, anyone can create a quilt pattern simply by using the basics.
Some examples of easy, basic, patterns blocks using squares are a Four
Patch ~ meaning four squares of fabric sewn together to make up one block.
A Nine Patch is nine small blocks making up one large block. This sample has used a four patch block to make a nine patch. Both can be mixed and matched with other patterns/blocks
as you progress with your quilting level. You will see that even the most intricate quilts have been made using
these basic blocks to create a totally different look. All are accomplished by
piecing the shapes in a different sequence and changing the color or design of the
Strips of material sewn together and cut to various lengths is another
simple way to build a quilt block. In the case of the Rail Fence,
four strips of different
colored material are sewn together, cut to the required rail length and placed in
alternating directions to give the look of a rail or snake fence.
Lightening Bolt and Streak of Lightening are other names used for this pattern. Or, as we have shown, change the directions of the stripes to make your own pattern.
The Log Cabin design is one of the most recognized quilt patterns. It too
is made up of strips that are sewn together in a specific sequence to give the
appearance of a log structure.
With all of your new found quilting knowledge, you too, will soon be designing your own patterns.
Ann Edall Robson is a quilter and freelance writer who
is the owner of Comfy Country Creations.
Give a gift that says "I Care".
Other Related Articles and Pages.
Selection of Quilts to Purchase
Decorating with Quilts
History in the Making - memories & heirlooms
Herbal Scents - for your drawers and closets
Gallery Display of custom made quilts and favorite patterns.
Crafters and Artists Gallery - Quilted Projects