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Thread: I've never made a quilt without a pattern

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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I've never made a quilt without a pattern

    I have never made a quilt without a pattern. I've been quilting since 1992 but earnestly since about 3 years ago and don't know how to go about making a quilt without a pattern. I see quilts here that people have made and like parts of them and would like to make a quilt out of the parts I like, but I'm horrible in math. I never took algebra in school...didn't have to. I don't have any fancy computer programs to help me. I know I could make an applique quilt if I just appliqued the middle and put borders around it. Couldn't put piano keys around it because I wouldn't know the right size and I can't use my useless brain to figure out how to. Any suggestions?
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

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    Senior Member pacquilter's Avatar
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    Jeanne, you might want to experiment with putting some of your quilt ideas on graph paper. The nice thing with that is that you can use the little squares to represent whatever size you want them to be. You can use it to design a block or blocks, and then you could use it for making a miniature drawing of your quilt. Colored pencils are helpful too, if you want to get ideas for color schemes. I'm not great at all that math either, but the graph paper helps to keep it all in proportion. It's kind of like having a computer program, only you have to do all the work! This is just one idea, but with all the awesome, experienced quilters on this board, you are sure to get some great feedback!
    Bless, O Lord, the works of my hands....

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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacquilter View Post
    Jeanne, you might want to experiment with putting some of your quilt ideas on graph paper. The nice thing with that is that you can use the little squares to represent whatever size you want them to be. You can use it to design a block or blocks, and then you could use it for making a miniature drawing of your quilt. Colored pencils are helpful too, if you want to get ideas for color schemes. I'm not great at all that math either, but the graph paper helps to keep it all in proportion. It's kind of like having a computer program, only you have to do all the work! This is just one idea, but with all the awesome, experienced quilters on this board, you are sure to get some great feedback!
    That sounds like a great idea. And I have graph paper also! Thank you sooooo much!!!!!
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

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    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    First of all, there is nothing wrong with making all your quilts from patterns. Do you really want to design your own? Or do you feel "inadequate" because you don't? If so, quit it! Your originality comes through with the fabrics you choose and the artistry with which you execute the pattern.

    If you really want to design your own, you might want to consider using EQ. I use EQ a lot, and I also use Excel spreadsheets. But I'm comfortable with computers and math, and hate the idea of graph paper where I would have to work hard and erase to make a change. Use whatever works for you, and remember this is QUILTING, not math.

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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    First of all, there is nothing wrong with making all your quilts from patterns. Do you really want to design your own? Or do you feel "inadequate" because you don't? If so, quit it! Your originality comes through with the fabrics you choose and the artistry with which you execute the pattern.

    If you really want to design your own, you might want to consider using EQ. I use EQ a lot, and I also use Excel spreadsheets. But I'm comfortable with computers and math, and hate the idea of graph paper where I would have to work hard and erase to make a change. Use whatever works for you, and remember this is QUILTING, not math.
    I am so computer illiterate. I don't even know what a spreadsheet is. I was a conductor for the railroad so I didn't use computers. My main computer use now is this board and my email and YouTube videos on quilting. I think I'm too old to learn new tricks. I'm 57.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

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    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I am so computer illiterate. I don't even know what a spreadsheet is. I was a conductor for the railroad so I didn't use computers. My main computer use now is this board and my email and YouTube videos on quilting. I think I'm too old to learn new tricks. I'm 57.
    You're never to old to learn anything!

    All you need is graph paper, a ruler and a regular calculator. The math is simple math. Not even the slightest bit of algebra or even geometry needed!

  7. #7
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    I agree. We are never too old to learn something new.

    Graph paper and colored pencils are great.

    EQ is relatively easy to learn as they do have video tutorials. You may know of someone with a local quilting group or a LQS who could help you learn EQ.

    Just because you haven't before ... doesn't mean you can't do it now.

    You got this far on the QB. You can go further and have even more fun.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

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    Senior Member RST's Avatar
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    Depending on your personal style, you might find that you prefer to create "improv" quilts. There are several books coming out currently, or in the next few months that guide you through the process of improv quilting, or you could start following a blogger who uses that construction technique. Many (not all) of the "modern" bloggers are improv - my favorites off the top of my head would be Tallgrass Studios and Sew Katie Did. In this style of design, there is no measuring, no graph paper, no math -- you cut, arrange, sew, cut, rearrange, sew, keep moving things around until you like the look, and call it done. I find it refreshing and fun, though it's not my predominant style of quilting.

    RST

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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I do feel less than because I don't make my own patterns. I like what dunster said. She said "quit it" about what I think about myself because I don't make quilt patterns. I think I will "quit it". Thanks dunster!
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  10. #10
    Super Member barri1's Avatar
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    I have a problem with patterns.. I have never used one, as I would probably have a problem following directions.. I would have a problem with being a perfectionist, and I wouldn't do it because it is someone elses work..
    I use graph paper, and design as I go along.. I've needlessly increased the work on my quilts, and end up laughing about it..
    Barri

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    you certainly do not need algebra or a special computer program to create a quilt with out a pattern-
    i'm always guilty of not doing the math ---and very seldom use a pattern-
    sometimes i do sit down with some graph paper & try to sketch out what i want to do---but in the end i've never actually used that graph paper sketch and made anything.
    piano key borders are one of the easiest---for not knowing what size you want/need- you just start sewing strips together(mine are always different widths like 1", 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2") since its a border the center- to be bordered is done- just lay it out- then sew strips together until they are as long as you need them & stop adding strips---you can cut them what ever width you want your border to be as you go along- or after you have it the width you want-
    sometimes people just (over-complicate) things- it is possible to make a whole quilt with very little math involved- i do it everyday.
    i usually put them together in rows- so will lay out pieces i want to use in the row- if they are not the same size i measure the largest one then figure out what i need to add to others to get them (up to that size) figure out what to add around them to make the row the length i want---
    don't make it harder than it is- make up some blocks- lay them out---and start adding as you go until you have a quilt top put together- if you want to frame it decide what size border you need to add to make it the size you want (such as you have 54" top---and you want it to be 72"----which is 18"---so you would need 9" of border per side---which you could make any number of ways---if you wanted piano keys-but not that wide- you could add a 2 1/2" strip of plain-then your piano keys (5 1/2") then another 2 1/2" outside border---then you have your 9" (finished size) border to add---
    once you jump in and make your first one you will have so much of it figured out- you will find it is not difficult-you just had yourself convinced it was hard.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    I love the idea of using graph paper. You could also experiment with some scraps. When I made my first quilt I knew I wanted to make it with all HSTs and I just picked 5" for the size of the squares I would cut and then I figured out how many I would need to have a decent sized lap quilt with simple addition. I hope you have fun designing your next quilt.

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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    It's geometry you need, not algebra, and graph paper will do most of the work for you. There are some great books out there that talk about starting with a center panel and adding borders until you reach the size you like. If you want to use patchwork in the border (for example flying geese) and the pattern doesn't quilt fit, then you can add a piece of coordinating fabric in the middle of the border panel and make it fit. Nobody is going to measure if your piece is 1/2" bigger on one side or the other (and if they do, then smack them). Yes, adding piano keys is a good way to create a border and those keys can be adjusted to make the border fit too.
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    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    The quilters of old didn't have computer programs and maybe not even graph paper. Some may not have know much about geometry. But they turned out quilts that are amazing. Don't be intimidated. You can do it! Start easy and go from there.

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    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I have never made a quilt without a pattern. I've been quilting since 1992 but earnestly since about 3 years ago and don't know how to go about making a quilt without a pattern. I see quilts here that people have made and like parts of them and would like to make a quilt out of the parts I like, but I'm horrible in math. I never took algebra in school...didn't have to. I don't have any fancy computer programs to help me. I know I could make an applique quilt if I just appliqued the middle and put borders around it. Couldn't put piano keys around it because I wouldn't know the right size and I can't use my useless brain to figure out how to. Any suggestions?


    Get some graph paper and draw out some squares about the size you like. Make some squares triangles and some triangles into more triangles. Or borrow a book from the library and take it to the copy machine and blow up a pattern you like about 500%
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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter View Post
    It's geometry you need, not algebra, and graph paper will do most of the work for you. There are some great books out there that talk about starting with a center panel and adding borders until you reach the size you like. If you want to use patchwork in the border (for example flying geese) and the pattern doesn't quilt fit, then you can add a piece of coordinating fabric in the middle of the border panel and make it fit. Nobody is going to measure if your piece is 1/2" bigger on one side or the other (and if they do, then smack them). Yes, adding piano keys is a good way to create a border and those keys can be adjusted to make the border fit too.
    Do I have your permission to "smack them"? lol
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  17. #17
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I have made my own quilt patterns , and I have purchased patterns that I could have made myself easily. Sometimes I just want it easy! I have EQ, but still use the tried and true graph paper when I am not in the mood to spend one more minute looking at a computer screen.
    Some of the quilts I liked to best were ones that had elements of several patterns.
    Its a hobby.. right?! Do what you like, and leave the other stuff to people who like that part of quilting.

  18. #18
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I am so computer illiterate. I don't even know what a spreadsheet is. I was a conductor for the railroad so I didn't use computers. My main computer use now is this board and my email and YouTube videos on quilting. I think I'm too old to learn new tricks. I'm 57.
    There are so many neat ideas on uTube - take your time and experiment, I'm sure you can make one of those. I've been teaching a bit and started a class with the "tube" quilt. It was easy enough for them to learn the basics. Don't give up!!!
    Nana Jan
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    And besides that, 57 is NOT old...I'd love to be that age again! I turn the big 70 in June...and I'm going sky-diving to celebrate it! And yes, my kids are already shrieking...but I'm still gonna do it!!! So...don't let your "age" bother you!!!
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
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    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I love this board.

    This has been the most wonderfully supportive, but helpful and thoughtful, thread. I feel all warm and fuzzy just from reading these suggestions to jcrow.

    My quilts usually start with an idea that I have seen elsewhere, but then I draw it out on graph paper to incorporate whatever tweaks I am adding (yup, I am computer illiterate too). When I finally make the quilt (usually months or years after drawing it) I always end up changing my "pattern" as I go along (usually because I didn't have quite enough of that one fabric, so I need to add a thin border of this other fabric, so that the squares in the corners of the wide border can be the fabric that matches the ......you get the idea). What I am trying to demonstrate is that designing your own patterns can lead to its own frustrations (like possibly not having a very accurate idea of how much fabric you need, etc, and having to improvise every step of the way) which may ruin the pleasure you otherwise feel in your hobby. I would suggest that if you do decide to design your own pattern that you might want to start with a smallish project - if the process isn't fun, and you decide to set it aside, you won't have too much invested.

    That said, you go girl!

    Alison

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    EQ is really the best for this!

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    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by momto5 View Post
    And besides that, 57 is NOT old...I'd love to be that age again! I turn the big 70 in June...and I'm going sky-diving to celebrate it! And yes, my kids are already shrieking...but I'm still gonna do it!!! So...don't let your "age" bother you!!!

    nope 57 is not old at all, at least not from where i sit. and speaking of skydiving, i went to celebrate my 35th birthday. i had seen those guys that use skate boards in their jumps so i had my mind set on doing a somersault from the plane. i couldnt find anyone to go with me until i finally talked my older brother to go jump with me.

    needless to say my brother was scared outta his wits (but he did jump outta the plane eventually) and i was too pumped up to think about anything else. i did a tandem jump (someone [instructor] is attached to you) on a cold november day at 14,000 feet. i did my somersault with a red baron soaring descent (arms pulled back with head up) and i was having so much fun i forgot to pull my chute chord. good thing an instructor was attached but i had a ball and want to go again. enjoy your jump.

    jcrow the first 17 quilts i made i did not use a pattern. i made them lap size and "designed" them as i was sewing them. i cut my pieces and put back together as if i was assembling a puzzle (which i enjoy). i dont really use patterns now to make my quilts, i see pics or quilts i like and then recreate my own version of them, including what size to make my strips, blocks, settings, etc. there are some quilts i would like to make that i know i may need a pattern for but until that time comes..... i do my own thing. i also have graph paper and colored pencils but sometimes i use excel to design to 'color' squares and work on placements. you can do anything you want and any boo-boos you think you are making you can just consider unique design elements. enjoy.
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    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havplenty View Post
    nope 57 is not old at all, at least not from where i sit. and speaking of skydiving, i went to celebrate my 35th birthday. i had seen those guys that use skate boards in their jumps so i had my mind set on doing a somersault from the plane. i couldnt find anyone to go with me until i finally talked my older brother to go jump with me.

    needless to say my brother was scared outta his wits (but he did jump outta the plane eventually) and i was too pumped up to think about anything else. i did a tandem jump (someone [instructor] is attached to you) on a cold november day at 14,000 feet. i did my somersault with a red baron soaring descent (arms pulled back with head up) and i was having so much fun i forgot to pull my chute chord. good thing an instructor was attached but i had a ball and want to go again. enjoy your jump.

    jcrow the first 17 quilts i made i did not use a pattern. i made them lap size and "designed" them as i was sewing them. i cut my pieces and put back together as if i was assembling a puzzle (which i enjoy). i dont really use patterns now to make my quilts, i see pics or quilts i like and then recreate my own version of them, including what size to make my strips, blocks, settings, etc. there are some quilts i would like to make that i know i may need a pattern for but until that time comes..... i do my own thing. i also have graph paper and colored pencils but sometimes i use excel to design to 'color' squares and work on placements. you can do anything you want and any boo-boos you think you are making you can just consider unique design elements. enjoy.

    One of the biggest advantages to designing your own quilts is nobody know how it's "supposed" to look!! Since nobody but you knows what it's supposed to look like you're free to change things as you go along.

  24. #24
    Super Member katesnanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I have never made a quilt without a pattern. I've been quilting since 1992 but earnestly since about 3 years ago and don't know how to go about making a quilt without a pattern. I see quilts here that people have made and like parts of them and would like to make a quilt out of the parts I like, but I'm horrible in math. I never took algebra in school...didn't have to. I don't have any fancy computer programs to help me. I know I could make an applique quilt if I just appliqued the middle and put borders around it. Couldn't put piano keys around it because I wouldn't know the right size and I can't use my useless brain to figure out how to. Any suggestions?
    Jeanne, first things first - please STOP putting yourself down. Unfortunately there are plenty of others who will do it for you. Secondly - don't compare yourself with others. We should only compare ourselves to what we have done before.
    If you don't like math maybe it's better for you to stick to using patterns but at 57 you are not too old to learn. I got my computer 5 years ago at 57 and have never had so much fun learning new things. It is great brain training which my psych tells me helps keep alzheimers at bay. Embrace it with gusto. Try the graph paper first, if you're not sure of things ask as many questions as you like on this board. You are welcome to PM me any time.
    Lastly don't ever tell yourself you can't do something until you have tried all avenues of learning that particular thing. Have faith in yourself and you will be surprised just how much you can learn. All the best & happy quilting.

  25. #25
    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    Here's one way to approach the problem: Look at a quilt the size you're after. Measure the blocks and count how many there are in the quilt. Make whatever blocks you like in that size, plus 1/2" for seams. Do the same for the number and size of borders and sashing. The choices of fabric and design of blocks will be all yours, but the math was done by whoever made the quilt you're basing it on.

    If you're too old at 57, what does that make me at 64?!
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

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