Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why I Design Quilts

1)To Prove a Point
Way back when, I would go with my wife to quilt shows and occasionally see pieced lettering. I thought most of it was poorly designed and I said so. My wife said, "If you can do better, go ahead." I became a quilter because I wanted to show it was possible to design attractive pieced lettering. I designed my first quilts to showcase the pieced alphabets that I had designed.

2)To See If I Can
I was still relatively new to quilting, when my wife showed me a block that formed secondary patterns. Could I design a block like that? Could I design other blocks? The immediate result was, what I call, Ninepatch Pinwheel blocks. I designed my Alberta Series of quilts to showcase those blocks.

3)To Discover
Designing is a voyage of discovery; a treasure hunt. I am always wondering what else is possible. What if I change colors, or dimensions? What if I combine two or more blocks that aren't usually combined; or what if use I use a small quilt as a block? Designing is an adventure; it's a chance to be the first to see something no one else has seen before.

4)I Can't Stop
You already know the joy, the sense of accomplishment, you get when you finish sewing a quilt. Imagine how much greater that feeling is when it's a quilt that you designed. I design because I like that feeling and I can't get enough of it.

What About You?
If you design quilts I would like you to share your story. There are still a lot of quilters who have yet to design a quilt. Your story could be the one that finally convinces one of them to give it a try.

Please write in the comment box below, or email me at; tell me why you design and I'll post it on my blog.

Why I Design

To learn why Judy Butcher designs go to

Why I Design

To learn why Susan Cook designs go to

Words of Encouragement and Support

Today Darlene is encouraging all of us to become designers and to encourage design. To see her blog go to

Why I design

To learn why Raymond Houston designs go to


  1. I design pieced quilts. I plan to teach myself/learn to draw in 2011 and will hopefully then also be able to design applique quilts. The block format of quilts always provided a safe place for designing one's own work. I plan to branch out in 2011 doing more fabric collages and design as I go.

  2. Mine is a two-part answer:

    1. I design because I just HAVE TO... in the same way as I eat, sleep, exercise, etc. each day, I NEED to draw and sew. It provides me with a sense of balance. And it particularly presents me with an opportunity to learn something new (about designing and about myself) every day.

    2. I also design for a living. It pays the bills. More importantly, it connects me with a larger community of quilters. Many of my designs I have not drafted for myself, nor do they necessarily reflect my personal quilting style. Yet designing for others has been such an interesting process, and such a great learning experience. I find it very empowering to be able to contribute to another person's creative process, and am humbled and touched to be able to be a part of that.

    Thank you for the opportunity. And love your designs! My favorite? Okotoks/Erratic. (-:

  3. Great post Wayne. Inspirational.


  4. I design because there are too many patterns out there that are generic. I want to expand my abilities and try new things. If I want to make a Mariner's Compass, I can just draw it out via my software and do it.

    I live rurally which means I'm basically self taught. There are rarely classes and then mostly basic ones. I also suffer panic attacks during classes and end up leaving anyway. QuiltUniversity has been my favorite way to learn since I don't have to be there physically.

  5. When I make a quilt, I might start with a pattern; but I will use my own fabric colors, change the border, use some different quilting techniques. . .well, the main point is that I don't want my quilt to be just like the picture or like the other hundreds of quilts that others are going to be making too! I don't think of myself as being able to "design". I just keep trying different techniques and improve my skills. This was an interesting post.

  6. I came over from Darlene's blog. I would love to start designing quilts fro myself. Great post!

  7. I really want to design! I have all these piles of graph paper that I start...and I just can't seem to get out of my comfort zone. I'm thinking I need to read your book!

  8. Hillbilly Handiworks

    I never discourage anyone from reading my book. You may also want to go to my website and read my essay "Is Designing Quilts Easy?"

    A comfort zone is a funny thing; when you grow as a designer, it grows with you.

  9. I usually don't read blogs or posts,but I was drawn in by your illustrations and photos. I love designing. I mostly do it for my customers which means there will be the same pattern done with different colors. I teach mysteries and therefore the quilter does not get to know what pattern they will be making before they buy their fabric. They must buy the amount of light, medium, and dark that I tell them, and cut the dimensions I give them before class. The design reveals itself as they piece their quilt. It is a great way to get people to try things they are not comfortable with. Most are pleasantly surprised at what they have chosen. Mysteries are a good way to get quilters to try things they don't believe they can make too. After reading your posts my mysteries are going to be a lot more interesting. I think I will also offer a design class in my shop too using your book. Thank you for sharing.

  10. We want to thank you for your design. We have built two child quilts with these letters and on one his
    Birth year, on the other 2023. This will be given to Church family.. Here in Kentucky, we are trying
    To keep busy. Thanks again.... wish we could send photos... caroline