I needed to produce a program on short notice for my local quilt group recently, and I’d like to share what I came up with. This is good for those times when your guild’s speaker has to cancel late in the game.
These are 3.5″ patches I played with while making a baby quilt about a year ago. I had a good time arranging and rearranging them until I came up with a combination I liked.
It was a short leap to realize I could cut similar patches and teach quilters about several important concepts at once. I called this program “Let’s Take a Trip Around the World.”
I cut up the fabric from a bunch of header cards, also known as waterfall cards, making no effort to coordinate them. It’s better if they do not “match” at all. I cut 3.5″ patches in different values, i.e. lights, mediums and darks.
I created a stack of patches for each person. They looked something like those shown above. Not especially appealing, are they?
Even though the fabrics didn’t coordinate—didn’t have much in common at all, everyone was able to make wonderfully attractive block arrangements as we focused on this task:
Create contrast between each fabric and its neighbors.
In other words, be sure you can see the difference between the fabrics that touch each other.
You can create contrast in many ways:
- Light vs. dark
- Busy pattern vs. plain pattern
- Large motifs vs. small motifs
- Motifs widely scattered vs. motifs densely packed together
- Color, sometimes! This is the last thing you should consider. It’s the least important!
People came up with some terrific combinations. When the fabrics don’t coordinate, you’re forced to look for connections or contrasts apart from color. Take a look by scrolling through some of the blocks.
Aren’t they fabulous? The next task was to create a layout with low contrast. In other words, select fabrics that blend into each other so there is very little contrast. Keep in mind that everyone had to work with the patches in her little stack. Some stacks worked better than others.
When they finished the 3.5″ exercise, I demonstrated how to make Scrappy Trips blocks, a technique popularized by Bonnie Hunter of quiltville.com. Not only did they learn how to make the blocks, they could analyze how the contrast between the fabrics played out in these new creations.
I had the chance to sew the patch rows together a few days later. I didn’t intend to start a new quilt, but I really like where this is going. I’ll be adding to it soon.
I had a really good time on this
Trip Around the World!
Thank you for coming with me.