Last week’s post concentrated on one block quilts and how to make them interesting by playing with color, adding sashing, etc. If you missed reading it, here it is: Blog Post 12-4-23. This week I’m moving on to two block quilts. Some of the same elements that were used for one block quilts can be used with these, but there are also more options since you have two block designs to work with. Let’s have some fun with this!
A Little Quilt History
Continuing on with some quilt block history from last week, the block style quilts that came into fashion in the 19th century were not only one block quilts. Often quilts contained two unique block designs that alternated in rows that made up the quilt top. Then you also have the sampler style quilts. Those were made up of blocks that were each unique. Here’s an example of a few small samplers that I have made.
These were just wall hanging size but sampler quilts can also be large quilts.
Sampler quilts served as a resource over the years for quilters when they wanted to find a certain block pattern. It’s theorized that women passed quilt design patterns around this way, by having a large sample of patterns sewn into one quilt. It’s also been suggested that this was a way that quilters of that time practiced their quilt making. They would hone their skills by piecing a new block design or inventing one of their own. Today, we have block books to page through to look for designs. Perhaps these quilts were their block books!
Want to make you own sampler quilt for fun? As you are making blocks for different projects you are working on, make an extra block. Eventually, you will have a collection of blocks that are all different. You can put them together and make a sampler!
Two Block Quilts & Secondary Design
One of my favorite thing to do is to pick out two different blocks and look at how those blocks will create a unique design when they are paired into quilt block rows. Sometimes they create the design when joined in straight rows and sometimes they look better when they are joined into rows with the blocks on point. I’ll show examples of both coming up.
Straight Rows: One of the most common two block quilts is combining a pieced block like a star or a churn dash block, a block with a more “static” design, with a checkerboard type block that has a bit more movement to it. Here’s the two blocks in my quilt, Prairie Sky:
Notice how when these blocks are joined into a quilt top, the checkerboard blocks create a diagonal crisscross design across the quilt.
On-Point Rows: Just like on-point settings created a different look for one block quilts, it can do the same for two block quilts. Here are two blocks, a churn dash block and a checkerboard block, that appear in my next quilt example:
Here’s how those blocks look in my Country Dance quilt in an on point setting.
Compare the look of this quilt with the Prairie Sky quilt above. Instead of the checkerboard blocks making a diagonal crisscross, those same blocks here on-point make a grid design. See how layout creates different secondary designs?
Just for fun, you can make your two block quilts combining a piece block with an appliqué block. And you can still create a secondary design that way. Here are two of the blocks:
And now here’s what they look like in my quilt, High Prairie Blooms. There is an additional style of an appliqué block included in this quilt so it’s technically a 3 block quilt:
Notice how there are two elements that make a secondary design here. One is the obvious crisscross pattern that develops from the appliqué blocks. But also there is a design that emerges where two appliqué and two pieced blocks meet.
It’s a fun detail that I carried out into the pieced border as you can see from the full quilt above.
Finally, you can take two very simple blocks, put them together and get some simple secondary designs. Here are two blocks from my Liberty Square quilt:
These simple blocks put together in rows where they alternate make this quilt:
Where the blocks meet, a simple 4-patch design emerges. Also, diagonally, the plain blocks make a diagonal chain design.
So that’s it for this week. Try your hand at pairing blocks together to see if an interesting design will emerge. You can usually tell by just putting pictures of two different blocks side by side. It’s a lot of fun to play with design!
Leave a comment or ask questions below and be entered into a drawing for a Liberty Square pattern! The drawing will be on Monday, December 18th. Good luck! **We have a winner! Congrats, Brenda Tucker!**