Saturday, June 11, 2011

Do You Know What A Quilt Block Is?

What a foolish question to ask any quilter. You've made lots of them, so of course you do.

Or do you?....

I designed this quilt block for my quilt "North Cooking Lake"
I colored it 4 ways to give me 4 different blocks.
When I put the 4 blocks together I got this design.

Obviously this is not a quilt. It looks like a block. Maybe I should call it a block.
When I put six of this new block together I got this design.

This looks like a quilt. But it is only part of a quilt. I repeated this design to make a quilt. So maybe I should call this a block.
I put 4 of this newest block together, with a pinwheel in the center and it made a nice lap quilt.

But what if I wanted something larger? I could repeat this design to make a bed quilt.

In that case, I could call this design a block.

There is a point to all this foolishness. And it is not a philosophical point but a creative one.

When you are designing you can be more creative if you are willing to challenge your pre-concieved notions of what a block is, or what a quilt is. Take a small quilt and use it as a block. Take a block and enlarge it to make a quilt.

Don't allow yourself to be hemmed in by definitions and assumptions.


  1. Thank you. Very thought-provoking. As always. :)

  2. very funny!
    This is where the words unit and (sub-)section come in handy :-)
    Merel, saying hi from the Netherlands

  3. Merel

    The words unit, block, section, subsection, etc. do indeed come in handy. Especially when you are trying to describe a quilt design. Or write a pattern.

    However, when I'm designing I think they get in the way. It's much more fun to ask, "What if this were treated like a block?" or "What if this were treated like a quilt?"

    The "this" in these questions doesn't have a name; it doesn't have an identity. So I can do anything I chose with it. I can be creative.

    When I'm done, when my quilt is whole and complete, then I can name the parts.