[personal profile] emmne
I highly encourage patternless quilt design as a great way to create real quilted art and unique creations.  I haven'et found  good way to coach on how to do that, so I thought I'd explain how I do it through an example.

t rarely use a pattern, although I occasionally make one.  Most often I have a concept.  Sometimes I make blocks but never the same one throughout except once when I did a one piece quilt, that is, the same irregular quarter of a square throughout, all in pinks and reds.  I've contributed blocks to group quilts and those often used a pattern. I've cone some process blocks - usually multiple ones in the same quilt and scrappy, but I don't know how I;m going to combine them until I get to that stage in the process.  

My latest quilt, latest to finish that is, was a concept quilt I stated three and half years ago (that pretty quick for me.  I've done UFOs that were nearly thirty years old.).  I cut strips and individual squares from 1-1/2 up to 12-1/2 and most of the usual sizes in between.  I sewed the smaller strips side-by-see in sets of one, two, up to six I think strips, then sliced them up and combined them with strips or blocks the same size in one direction (e.g six one inch strips with a six inch block or a pair of three inch squares.  I aimed for rectangles that were 6x8 or 6x9 or rectangles of 6, 8, or 9 by 12 and ended up with more variation than that.  I kept growing the blocks and combining the smaller ones into increasingly bigger ones until I had about a dozen blocks of various sizes plus various leftovers.  

Then I gridded out what I had left, added the leftovers to the sides or ends of the larger rectangles until I could put two next to each other to make another larger rectangle (same length and/or width together) until Ihad four pieces.  I could line up two and two, and then those with one point of zig-zag toward the center to make the two halves of the quilt, and sewed those two together with some care around the zig zag.

I left it at that for a long time but finally got around to the next stage this past November.  I put together a backing that wasn't quite big enough and started quilting, eventually added more backing pieces and shortened the quilt to bring it down to 92 by 98.  The trimmed end pieces were turned into top and bottom bindings.  For the side bindings I used a dark blue print to bring out the blues and provide a sharp contrast to all the yellows and oranges and reds.  I finished the quilting just over a week ago, then the binding, with some painted embellishments and embroidery-type quilting along the way.  Hopefully I will shortly figure out how to post the picture!
[personal profile] emmne
I was making it for a QOV, smaller than my usual quilts, so it wasn't as daunting, then I discovered it was far easier than I anticipated.  Essentially, it's half a log cabin that looks like a quarter when done, with the center in one corner and the layers on two sides.  I thought it would take a lot of up and down - add a side (half a layer), trim for each block separately, but when you are doing a stack of blocks (I did 35), you can do some modified strip quilting along the way for more efficient flow and less getting up and down. 
  • I made the center squares first, stacked them up next to strips for what was going to be the first side and second side (I suspected I could do that much without squaring off)
  • I laid out the strip first and put the square on top to sew.  That's when I realized I could strip quilt by just leaving the strip on the sewing machine and putting the squares next to each other as I went.
  • After I had sewn all the squares to the strips, then I could iron and cut them apart, squaring as I went, much faster than doing it separately for every single square.  Of course, this only works if you don't mind some repetition.  Complete repetition can be avoided with shorter strips or more different strips, mixing, and more different strips for each additional layer.
  • Repeat with the next layer, ironing consistently
  • Each successive layer requires more strips, and may have longer leftover "tags", which can be used for more squares later or used in some other fashion.  They can be the same or different, depending whether you want a more patterned or more scrappy look but for best effect as a corner, the center square should be a single, high contrast fabric.  It can be the same size or different than the strips that are added on as layers.
  • I trimmed each side as I went then squared off the whole when I was done adding layers.
  • I mixed up the direction of the blocks to maximize the scrappy appearance, but they can all be line up the same direction to good effect, too.

[personal profile] emmne
I was writing a blog about writer's prompts and realized that they served much the same purpose as block-amonth type projects: a challenge to try something new or different, to learn a technique or get better at a known one without committing to a whole book/quilt. That it results in a decent sized quilt once all the blocks are made is bonus. (They can also be turned into place mats, bags, wall hangings, etc., and often quilters never quite get around to doing anything with their results, just like writers, who rarely publish their prompt-based "practice" pieces without major modification.)

Along that line, how about a block-a-month prompt: not a specific block (which I have yet to figure out how to post online even when I've developed instructions), but a category or suggestion for something to look up or try from our collection of books, magazines, and free patterns online. Just to show how it works, I'll start with something easy: half-square triangles. Find a block that calls for half-square triangles and make it.

You can do the same size or different sizes each month (or however rapidly I post prompts that you feel like making). You can make matching fabrics or use scraps (the idea is practice, and you can make a nice comfy quilt for yourself even if you don't really like the results, and different sizes can be assembled into a single quilt though it helps if you do 4-8-12 (pus seam allowance on each size), 3-6-9-12 (plus seam allowance on each size) sequential sizes for easier assembly without borders). You can make more than one if you find several squares in the category that look fun.

If you are all too familiar with half-square triangles, look for a different way to make them (I've found at least three, all called the same thing) or invent your own block that uses at least four triangles.


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