Choosing quilt patterns is not an easy task. There are so many types of quilting techniques, and with each technique there are myriad choices for pattern designs. As a beginner quilter, you need to know what works best for your skill level. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by too much information at once! That’s why this article focuses on helping you narrow down your options for picking out your first quilt pattern.
This article does NOT cover how to create your own quilts from scratch – it just helps you pick out patterns to start off with until you get more confident about creating your own unique quilts. If you’re looking for some great ideas to create your very own quilts, check out my other article how to quilt by hand to get started. If you are new to the world of sewing, take some time to learn about sewing and how to find the best sewing machines for beginners. Having the correct equipment will help you get off to a great start on your quilting journey.
Once you have decided what kind of quilt you would like to make, then comes the hard part…choosing the QUILT PATTERN!! Here we go….
Quilt Pattern Design
Choose fabrics that fit together well. It should look good as a whole unit without any seams showing. Sometimes if one color doesn’t blend well into another, they can ‘pull’ everything else away from their background. In general, darker colors pull lighter ones further back while light colors do the opposite. So choose wisely! Also, consider the overall theme of the quilt. Are you trying to add contrast? Or maybe try using complementary colors instead.
Keep your design simple.
A complex pattern looks busy but may also confuse beginners. The most common mistake I see new quilters making is having way too many pieces per block. Keep things simple and only include needed elements. Don’t overload your blocks with unnecessary details. Remember, less is often better.
Make sure your lines flow smoothly.
Be mindful of where your edges meet. When something isn’t working, cut it loose and change it up. Always ask yourself “Does this line really belong here?” Avoid clutter and chaos by following your instinct. You’ll know what feels right. If you aren’t comfortable with your decision, take it outside. Take a break and come back later.
Once you’ve made a choice, stick with it. Even though every artist has his/her signature touch, it shouldn’t become apparent through repetition alone. With practice, you’ll learn to express yourself creatively within the guidelines set forth by your original idea. Just because you started with a particular pattern doesn’t mean you have to finish there either. Experimenting is half the fun!
Don’t overthink it.
If you feel stuck, allow yourself to let go and trust your instincts. Trust that you’ll find an answer eventually. Most likely, the solution lies somewhere between those two extremes.
The four basic types of blocks used in traditional piecing are called corner-stones, center squares, side sashing, and flying geese. Each type offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore them one at a time.
These are usually square blocks placed in the corners of a completed row. They offer stability and balance. However, they don’t provide enough room for creativity since all rows share the same border.
Center Square Block
Center squares are smaller than corner stones. Since they are not anchored by anything beside themselves, they tend to float freely. Because of this, these blocks have lots of space for creative freedom. Their lack of structure makes them difficult for beginners since it takes longer to piece them correctly.
Side Sash Blocks
Side sashes are diagonal strips of fabric sewn along the sides of finished rows. They serve two purposes: providing extra support to the top edge of the quilt, and allowing the rows to move easily around the quilt frame. Without proper anchoring, however, they lose both qualities and end up being bulky.
Flying geese are similar to side sashes except they run vertically rather than horizontally across the rows. Like side sashes, flying geese also give added support to the tops of the quilt. Unlike side sashes, they offer little flexibility for movement.
Which Block Type Should YOU Use??
If you plan on sewing multiple layers together, use flying geese.
If you wish to sew single layer quilts, use corner-stone blocks.
For quilts requiring greater movement such as wall hangings, bed runners, etc., use side sashes.
In general, use whatever suits your personal preference.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how to choose color schemes for your quilt.
Stay away from dark blue & black unless you already have experience piecing quilts. Dark blues & blacks can sometimes cause confusion for novice quilters especially when combined with white thread.
Avoid pastel shades like lavender, lilac, mint green, baby pink, peach, fuchsia, seafoam, aqua, sky blue & royal purple. While these are nice colors, inexperienced quilters can easily misplace small colored threads among large areas filled with solid or striped backgrounds.
Try to avoid bright yellow, orange, reds, purples, greens, pinks, plums, lime greens & blues. Bright colors require more precision to match accurately.
When deciding upon a color scheme, remember that whites play an important role. Whites reflect light evenly, unify different textures, enhance vivid colors, draw attention to detail, & anchor contrasting colors. White serves several functions simultaneously. Therefore, it’s essential to establish a foundation of quality control before moving onto other aspects of your quilt.
Remember that not everyone sees color the same way. Some people think warm hues are comforting while others prefer cool tones. Think carefully before committing to a certain palette.
Always experiment. Different colors can produce completely different results even under identical conditions. Play around with various combinations until you’re satisfied.
Consider your intended audience. What kind of mood do you want to convey? Do you want to relax, comfort, excite, intrigue, uplift, teach, or inspire? Color selection plays a huge factor in conveying that message.
And finally, when selecting colors, always consider placement. Wherever possible, place larger objects near brighter colors. Conversely, put smaller items closer to softer colors. This rule applies whether you select primary or secondary colors or complimentary colors.
One last tip I’d like to leave you with is to never underestimate the power of neutrals. Neutrals bring order to otherwise chaotic scenes. By incorporating neutrals, you can quickly transform drab backgrounds into vibrant focal points.
Tips for Putting Your Quilting Fabric Together
When piecing quilt blocks, always use the same fabric for the top and bottom of each block. This will help to ensure consistency in color and texture.
Always make sure to press the fabric before cutting. This will help to remove any wrinkles or creases and will produce a neater finished product. There is a lot of ironing involved in quilting so make sure to have a good quilting iron.
If you’re using a directional fabric, make sure to cut the fabric with the correct grain. Failure to do so can cause the fabric to warp and stretch out of shape.
If you plan on appliquéing shapes onto your quilt blocks, it’s best to select fabrics beforehand and then piece the blocks accordingly. This avoids having to cut fabrics while you’re working on the block, which can lead to mistakes.
When piecing quilt blocks, always press seams in the same direction. This will help to keep your quilt looking neat and tidy.
If you’re using a contrasting fabric for borders or sashing, it’s best to select a fabric that has a similar weight
So now you should have enough knowledge to begin choosing quilt patterns for your first few projects. Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned and start stitching! Good luck! May you continue learning, growing, and improving for years to come!