I have three patch sizes that I return to again and again.
You may have favorite patches too. It’s good to know what sizes you use the most because when you’re dealing with leftovers, you can cut them up accordingly.
I do not cut everything into patches, though, and here’s why.
Gwen Marston once said during a class, “Don’t commit too soon.” In other words, be sure of your direction before you take an action (like cutting) that can’t be undone. She was talking about improvisational quilt design but the same is true for scraps.
Most of my fabric is not cut up into my favorite patches.
I want the freedom to make it into whatever I choose. But I do cut up some very lights, some very darks and lots of leftovers into my favorites.
- 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ rectangles
- 2-1/2″ squares
- 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ rectangles
Here are a few of the quilts I’ve made with these patches.
One of the first Baby Windmill quilts I made was Framework. I noticed one day that several darker blocks formed a line on the design wall. I realized that if I made darker blocks on purpose, I could arrange them into “borders” without any extra work. It’s a fun quilt to make because you’re free to use any and all fabrics together. The chaos is kind of the point.
Here’s a tutorial for Baby Windmills.
Scarlet Spin is a simple design that lets the reds do most of the heavy lifting. Reds clash so beautifully and I never tire of them. It also uses 1.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles for the focal point of each block.
When I decided to try making pictorial quilts
from those little patches, Home for Christmas fit the bill. With the exception of the bows on top of the presents, every patch in the quilt is that same size, even those in the borders. I love designing with just one patch because it greatly speeds and simplifies the cutting.
Just Bricks uses my other favorite rectangle, the one cut 2.5″ x 4.5″. I joined a lighter patch with a darker patch, and then rotated alternating units. Piece of cake. As I pieced the center, I thought it was horrible. I almost threw it away. But then it got big enough to audition some borders. It came together when I put this Jane Sassaman fabric beside it. The narrow yellow border also arrests the eye a little, giving it a much-needed break.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the past 10 years
has been Star Silhouettes. American Patchwork & Quilting’s August ’22 issue featured it on the cover, something I never dreamed could happen. By the time I sent it off, I was so tired of it that I couldn’t see how pretty it was. You can get the pattern for Star Silhouettes from AP&Q.
At first I was shocked by how much people loved the quilt. But now I think it’s a good example of how simple patchwork can be really effective if you let the fabric do the work. I made the quilt with only 2-1/2″ squares.
Some people see kittens in windows when they look at this quilt. I wasn’t intending that but I like the idea. I used in-your-face-yellow for sashing to distract from all the mismatched-ness of the blocks. And I think it works. I have a dozen more ideas for StarQuars, all made from 2.5″ squares.
And I have a new quilt design which is based on Flying Geese made from two of my favorite patches. I can’t wait to share it with you. 😊 I’d be interested in what your favorite patch sizes are!