Tuesday, April 05, 2011

“. . . never uses patterns . . .”

Here are some patterns I’ve bought over the years. I have used one element from one pattern in a quilt I made (a horse head called Horse Happy from Chickadee Charms). I didn’t feel I wanted to go through all the work of figuring out a simple horse head when there was one I liked easily available. On the top of the pile is the very first pattern I bought in the early 1990s called Nasturtium Quilt by Sally Lampi.
When I bought it I did not know how to appliqué and the directions were confusing to me. Nowadays, I have the skills and I could make the quilt but I don’t want to. I still think it is lovely looking.

The first quilt I made didn’t use a pattern. It was just simple square blocks for a baby quilt in 1993. I had a quilter friend, Carole, and she went to the fabric store with me and helped me pick out appropriate cloth. She showed me how to sew ¼ inch seams and how put the blocks together. I bought cardboard alphabet letters at a teachers’ store and traced around them on fabric and fused them to some of the squares. I did an embroidered bead stitch around all the letters so they would not come loose in the wash (that quilt was washed and washed and washed and passed on to my grandson’s younger brother). I quilted random stars on it by machine and hand quilted around all the letters and blocks.

I still plan to make The Wild Onion Jacket by Susan Conn Italo. I’m going to get to it any minute.

All this rumination was sparked by a comment on my last blog post. Gerrie Congdon said, “I think this whole process is very interesting - as someone who never uses patterns . . .” I thought to myself, “never uses patterns! How could that be?” Oh dear. Then I realized that I hardly ever use patterns even though I design and sell patterns. I do buy patterns however. I make some art quilts that are more spontaneous than a careful, patterned quilt.
Here are some reasons a quilter might never use patterns:
1. You don’t like pieced quilts, they are old fashioned. 2. All quilt patterns look alike to you. 3. Patterns are too expensive. 4. You sprang from your mother’s womb knowing how to make a quilt (and you don’t use cooking recipes, either). 5. You can look up a traditional block in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and draft your own on graph paper. 6. You have a computer quilt design program and use the blocks in it any size you want, and you design your own unique patterns. 7. Or, as Kathy Schmidt said the other day on the QuiltArt list, "You paint, you stamp, you screen print, you burn and melt and do some stitching to hold your layers together." 8. You only like appliqué.

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Blogger Larkspur Lane Designs said...

Great blog post! I was on a chat board today where people said things like "there's nothing new out there" and "how many different ways are there to put squares and triangles together". Where you in that same chat room before you wrote this?

4:26 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I too feel there is nothing new when I see all magazines with the same designs over and over. I do know how to design my original patterns BUT I cannot cook an original meal to save my life! I leave that to my sweet husband! What I can do with fabric, he can do with food---what a great duo we make!

4:51 PM  
Blogger Larkspur Lane Designs said...

Just to clarify--I was in no way agreeing with those people in the chat room and I showed them some of my own designs to prove my point!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Collagemama said...

I just like reinventing the wheel nearly every morning when I climb out of bed.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

OMG! I remember that nasturtium pattern! I loved it, too. I don't remember that I bought it, because I don't like to applique, but I agree that it still looks lovely. Thanks for that little trip down memory lane.

Quirks Ltd.
Kathy Schmidt

8:55 PM  
Blogger orkaloca said...

So nice post!
I have some patterns, but really only my very first quilt was made from a pattern.
Usually I see a pattern I like, I buy it thinking "I'll do it" then just one day after I find another project that catch my attention.
I'm not against patterns, but I've got more satisfaction if I do the design by myself :)

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Crystal said...

I'm obviously a pattern collector rather than a pattern user. I'm not sure I've ever made even one (except when I test for another designer) but I just keep buying them anyway:)

7:41 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

This was a great post! I think I might be at least a #4 and also a #5. I can cook an original meal and have been sewing so long that my mother can't remember when she first taught me. When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was buy fabric remnants at the local dime store and then go home and design a piece of clothing, a quilt, etc, maybe for me or my dolls. Even when I grew up, I often strayed from the directions on clothing patterns and I think I've only made a couple quilts from patterns. I find most patterns confusing and I know why, because I find it hard to write them for my own designs. LOL! I think I need to read your blog more often. Really enjoyed my visit. :-)

8:17 AM  
Blogger Meggie said...

What an enjoyable post! I loved your reasons why people might never use patterns. I do a bit of both.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Piecefulafternoon said...

Ohh the nasturtium quilt - I love it - they are my favorite flower! I think I would do it on a plainer background - so there was more contrast. Or maybe I would put the vines and flowers in a border of another quilt.

And that is what I do if I use patterns, I can barely leave a pattern alone without some sort of fidddling and changing around. I sometimes start with a pattern, though I have to say - I've almost never bought a quilt pattern (I did buy your wonderful Double Wedding Ring Pattern - and then I adjust and add and subtract and change things about if it is a pattern I bought. I'm thinking of adding applique flowers to your DWR pattern, it lends itself so well to that)

One reason for not buying many pattern is that somewhere out there in blogland, someone will have posted the pattern and how to make it - almost always, or a pattern is available on-line from many free sources (do you see a cheapskate taking shape here? LOL)

Most of my quilts are either from traditional block patterns (adjusted to my liking) or my own original design. I made one mystery quilt - and NEVER AGAIN! I found that someone else's idea of a design and contrast was not mine - so I ended up giving it away - poor old ugly thing.

When I finish with a pattern I give it away - as I'm sure I won't use the same pattern twice - it is hard enough for me to use it once.

Wonderful post - I loved your reason for not using a pattern.

8:48 AM  

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