I was once in a local quilt shop when I was looking at a quilt and asked the owner about it. It was not an area I was familiar with.
“It is a patchwork quilt, but it is just squares, no triangles” she said. She was not at all interested in it, she had many quilts to sell but not a lot of interest in patchwork quilts, and as a result she sold very few.
I took the quilt home and spent a few hours looking at it and thinking about how to approach it. I found a pattern that had a similar background colour, so this gave me the first idea of how to put the different blocks together.
At the end of my research, I had a lot of information about different types of fabrics, different design elements and how to lay out the quilt so I was well prepared for the next step – actually making the quilt.
So I decided to follow the instructions for a quilt that I had seen in a magazine and bought a bag of 100 x 50cm strips of various fabrics. When I started cutting the strips, I was surprised to see how many different fabrics I had. So I had to keep a mental list of each and every one of them.
After the strips had been cut and put away, it was time to start laying out the quilt. When I put the quilt in my lap to do this, I was able to see the different fabrics and how they would work in the quilt and it began to look like a quilt. But the background colour was not what I was looking for so I decided to try a different approach. I would cut strips of different fabrics that I thought would work together and then use a different colour of thread to sew the strips together. I had an idea for the quilting too so I could start with this idea.
For example, I found a striped fabric, I cut the strips and used a thread that was not the background colour. I then used this thread to stitch each strip together. The effect of stitching in one colour was that it created a different colour for each strip and this worked to make each block stand out.
After I had finished the quilting I used my favourite fabric for the binding and the end result was a patchwork quilt that was totally my own.
My advice is to give yourself time to research and make your quilts from the inside out.
If you are planning a patchwork quilt then have a lot of fabric at hand. You are not limited to just one colour, you can mix and match colours and textures in your patchwork designs. Also remember you can use fabrics that are more expensive as long as they are appropriate for the project you are working on.
Remember that not all patchwork projects work out the same and they will be very different from one another. You will need to experiment a little.
Try a technique and work out how you can improve it and use your findings to make new designs.