I sent an e-mail to Leslie of Motherhood in Mexico blog asking her what she was curious about the subject of quilting. I know, loaded question! LOL Her response? "I would love to learn everything there is to know about quilting, from choosing the right material to choosing the right pattern." Loaded answer and typical of anyone who isn't sure where to start. So in a series of posts I want to explore how to make a quilt from my point of view. And any of you out there who quilt are encouraged to weight in with your thoughts because there is no one way to do any craft.
Leslie also made this comment,
"My Hubby owns an upholstery shop and always has a bunch of fabric swatches that he uses to show his customers what's available. Of course, the swatches he uses change from time to time and we are left with the old swatches. These swatches measure about 6 x 8 inches and vary in color and texture. I know that they aren't really quilting material, but I would hate to see all of that fabric go to waste and I would love to be able to make something beautiful out of them, like a quilt. Any suggestions you have to offer would be greatly appreciated. "
Okay, the swatches are not 100% cotton quilt material, no big deal. All kinds of fabric have been used in quilts and comforts. I'm assuming these swatches are closer to denim in weight and structure. I suggested Leslie launder her swatches to preshrink, look for color-fastness, fraying and things of that nature along with ironing the swatches afterward to see if they would handle the heat. And based on my assumption of a heavier weight fabric I would use a 1/2-inch seam allowance to help support the weight and structure of the fabric. The classic 1/4-inch seam allowance for quilts will probably allow the edges of the blocks to pull out at the seam allowances with use.
Here are some suggestions for laying out her blocks. I cut some fabric 6 x 8 inches and laid the blocks out staggering the seams. With heavier materials this creates less bulk where one set of seams intersect a column of blocks. As Kaye Woods says, "This if for the non-pointy people." LOL If you want the all seams to intersect at a given point go for it. Just remember it will cause extra bulk where all the seams intersect. It will take about 100 blocks for a 48 x 72-inch afghan with no borders. Don't have enough blocks? My treatment of the red and white gingham quilt could be a solution. If you had scraps left over from some project those could be sewn together in long strips.
Here I cut blocks 6 by 6 inches and laid them out in a random fashion for a charm quilt. Or you could put color families together like I did in the diamond quilt or even the blue and white gingham quilt. Bulk at the corners could be a problem.
Here I made right triangles with the 6 by 6 blocks. I wouldn't make more than one cut to the blocks because of the bulky seam issue. You could put sashing strips between the blocks. Sashings spread the blocks out and reduce bulk of seams. See where there are eight seams coming together at one place? This could be a real hassle to sew over. You could spread each little block out put a sashing around each one that would look nice. Maybe turning all the blocks so the run the same direction. If the right triangle idea appeals to you here is a you-tube video that does a good job of explaining how to do it with big squares.
As you can see there are tons of ways to use the fabric you have to make tops with. There is no one perfect layout. The question is what looks good to you? What do you want to create? Then just do it!
Note: Using a sheet to lay-out your quilt on is very beneficial when using the floor or a bed to design on because if you have to move the quilt top before it is sewn together you don't lose that design. And if you are still not sure about the placement of blocks you can fold it up let your idea ferment a day or two. Unfold it and see if you still like it before you start sewing it up or move blocks around to something else.
Always remember creating is what makes us human.
Have a good day!