Monday, February 11, 2008

Challenging Ourselves

I love a good challenge. One of my favorites is actually a simple one: take a traditional block and choose colors, sashings, and settings that make it look entirely different. I call it "taking the common and making it uncommon." So how do you do that? Well... it's not all that difficult. There are plenty of resources available to all of us. If you have ever made a sampler quilt, with twelve different blocks, choose one of those blocks. Then "audition" different ways to color and sash it so that it looks entirely different. Have I confused you yet? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Below is a picture of a very traditional block, Old Maid's Puzzle. It's made from two large half-square triangles and two pairs of smaller half-square triangles, along with four small squares. What makes it special? Not much, really! Maybe you didn't know the name of the block, but you've probably seen several old quilts that used the block.

But what if you took this block and changed the colors and sashings so that the blocks were not quite so recognizable? What if they were set in a unique way? Take a look at the quilt below: you almost have to study it to find the Old Maid's Puzzle blocks within it.

"Star Puzzle"

So the challenge I set before you is: choose a traditional block. Figure out how to use it... in a new and interesting way! There are plenty of resources available to you. I like to play around with the Electric Quilt software program; it's wonderful for experimenting with settings and colorations. Another resource is one of the greatest books on the market today, Barbara Brackman's book, "Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns." It contains thumbnail illustrations of hundreds of traditional blocks. Another great resource book is Judy Martin and Marsha McCloskey's "Pieced Borders." It contains dozens and dozens of border options; it is one of my most-used quilt books.
Alright - I've thrown down the gauntlet. Let me know if you come up with some unusual combinations of traditional blocks. It's fun stuff!
(c)2000-2008 Susan H. Garman

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