Last week, I talked about different ways to lay out blocks, whether you are making a large quilt or a smaller quilt, like a wall hanging. That is one of the design elements that goes into making a quilt. This week I want to go back even further and show you things that inspire my ideas and help me to design blocks and quilts. These inspirations can be out in the world or they can come from something as simple as an antique quilt. Share your thoughts and comments below and be entered into a drawing for my book, Blooming Patchwork. Let’s get started with the fun!
Design Inspiration from Out in the World
Inspiration is everywhere. At least it is for me. From a pattern on a building to an iron gate to windows. Even a lampshade! Here’s three photos I took that I return often to to get some inspiration.
That window on the left? That inspired the border for this pattern below that was in Primitive Quilts & Projects in the spring of 2014:
The iron gate in the photos above can possibly inspire an appliqué motif. You’d be surprised where inspiration comes from. That semi-circle window photo taken in 2012 at the school where I took my son for his freshman year led to the border on this project above.
Here’s another inspiration:
I took a photo of a pattern on a lampshade and it led me to thinking about making chevrons in a quilt pattern. So, along came Celebrations!
Finally, the photo below on the left inspired the idea for the border on my Sister’s Reunion quilt (right), with a little variation. This was a pattern I found on a tile floor!
Design Inspiration from Antique Quilts
I often look through books of 18th and 19th century quilts to get some design inspiration. I like to take traditional blocks and elements from these quilts and work them into a design for today. Here’s a quilt I found in a book on antique quilts (left) and my quilt, Homestead Trail, on the right.
I changed up the look of this traditional block by replacing the solid alternating block with a sashing and nine-patch corner stones. This created interesting movement that continues into the border of the quilt.
My next inspiration came from album or autograph quilts and quilt blocks I found in a lot of antique books. The traditional name for this block is the Album Cross block.
The block above (right) is from an album quilt made in the 1840’s in New York state. Quilts made from these blocks were usually presented to someone who was leaving a community. Friends and family of the person receiving the quilt would write or embroider a message in the block. The signer would sign their name with the date and sometimes add a message for the quilt’s new owner. This style of block is only one of the many types of blocks used in album or “friendship” quilts. These quilts were very popular in the 19th century when many people were leaving family and friends to move west.
But of course for me, I wanted to find a way to make this block easier… translation, with NO “Y” or set in seams. I hate doing those so I do not like to design quilt patterns with those types of seams. Here is the block I came up with:
To make the block above, I created this unit below. And when I made four and stitched them together, I got the look of the vintage Album Cross without the stress!
Here’s the blocks I made (left) and then the resulting two projects in the pattern, Scrap Basket Duo.
Finally, for this week’s post, another traditional block that inspired me was the spool block. I saw this quilt in a book and thought I’d love to adapt that into a quilt pattern:
The spool block has many versions that have been around since the 19th century. Quilt blocks were often designed and named for ordinary household items. I image the women who designed and named this block based it on the wooden spools that held their thread.
Again, I re-designed the spool block so there was no “Y” or set in seams. Here’s my pattern Bloomin’ Spools and a close up of the block I created.
If you look closely at the blocks I made, you can see the seams showing I made these blocks in a nine-patch fashion.
So that’s it for this week. Share your thoughts and comments below. I’d like to know if I inspired you with these inspirations of mine or I’d like to hear some of yours. I will drawer a name from commenters and you will win a copy of my book, Blooming Patchwork!
The drawing will be on Monday, January 24th. Good luck!