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Thread: Pattern or Self Design?

  1. #1
    Member Elaray's Avatar
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    Pattern or Self Design?

    I'm a relatively new quilter. I'm so happy I found this board. I don't know any quilters and I have so many questions. It's good to have a place to get my questions answered.

    I've completed 3 quilts and I'm working on my 4th. So far, all of my quilts have been from published patterns and I've used coordinated fat quarter bundles, layer cakes or jelly rolls. As a beginner, this is a good place for me to start.

    Do experienced quilters use published patterns or do they design their own quilts? I think designing a quilt requires a different set of skills than following a pattern. Is designing a natural talent or a skill that can be developed?
    Last edited by Elaray; 07-18-2012 at 03:14 AM.
    I sew, therefore, I am.

  2. #2
    Super Member JenniePenny's Avatar
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    Hi Elaray,
    welcome to the world of quilting. The answer about published patterns vs. designing depends on so many factors, not just the experience level. Sometimes quilters will start with a pattern, and then decide to modify something in it. Sometimes the modifications come about because of boo-boos (example: I have eliminated corner stones in sashing once because things just didn't match up). I don't know if designing is a natural talent - I do think that it can be developed. Sometimes there are elements of a pattern that I try to incorporate, but other parts that I don't find appealing. I have a pattern for a medallion quilt that I love the center, but I really don't like how the published pattern shows the borders so I will devise my own border blocks. I think I started doing these types of things on my fourth quilt (six months or so after I started quilting.) Whatever is fun for you, do that!
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  3. #3
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    You are so going to love making your own designs using patterns as a jumping-off point! What I do is go to Google Images and type in "quilts" and just scroll through the thousands of photos. When I see a quilt I like - sometimes because of the color combination or the block design - I try to figure out how the individual block is made. Then I use the fabrics that I like and start cutting fabrics. Invariably what I end up with is nothing like the original inspiration, but it's all my own and the process makes me happy and keeps me out of trouble.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  4. #4
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    I have used a combination of pattern - my own design almost ever since I started quilting in 2005 or 06. At first it was usually the border. I really like applique borders on pieced quilts and pieced borders on applique quilts. I also like to use scraps and just play with them until I find something that I like.

  5. #5
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I think it depends on personal preference, some hate using pattern. me personally love using beautiful patterns. There are so many beautiful patterns that I want to make, I figure why create my own. If you want to enter shows you should work on creating your own original quilt

  6. #6
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    I'm still fairly new to quilting myself (have about 5 or 6 pieced quilts made so far) and I've only recently started on a quilt that came from a pattern! And I'm only using the block layout, not the overall quilt layout they have there. It just doesn't suit me like MY version does!

    I really enjoy the pattern-making part of quilting. I sit down with my graph paper & color pencils and have fun. Or I mess around in EQ ("Electric Quilt" - quilt pattern making software). Actually I usually design blocks on graph paper and then remake it in EQ to play with overall quilt layouts and colors.

    So I think it depends on the person's preferences more than the skill or experience level. For me it's kind of a "quick fix" when I want to be creative. I can "make" a quilt on paper a heck of a lot faster than I can sew one up! LOL

  7. #7
    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    the first 20 lap quilts i made for family i designed myself and used embellishments and some geometric cuts of fabric. as a matter of fact i don't think i have ever really 'used' a pattern. i reverse engineer a pattern like artsyone mentioned below. i look at pics, choose elements of quilts i like, figure out the blocks and then make them from my own aesthetics.

    i enjoy the creative process that way but i must say i have been sewing since like forever and have always sort of combined details to create my own unique garments. there are those who have no desire nor inclination to design their own quilts and will always want to use patterns and then there are those who like to design or include their own elements to established quilt patterns. there is room at the quilting table for all of us.
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  8. #8
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    My philosophy is why invent the wheel when it's already made but this is not to say that I don't change things around sometimes. I think it takes a special skill to design patterns.

  9. #9
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    Welcome Elaray!!

    I usually find blocks that I like and play with them to make a quilt. When I started quilting again, I discovered Quilterscache and discovered that I could come up with quilts just using a block or two. http://www.quilterscache.com/ -- the patterns here are free. I have used patterns, but normally do my own thing. I have the Electric Quilt Program, Block Base and if I want to plot out a pattern I use them.

    I also have a nice collection of books (mostly older books) that I use as a reference -- more for blocks than quilts.
    QuiltnLady1

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  10. #10
    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphyngyrl View Post
    I think it depends on personal preference, some hate using pattern. me personally love using beautiful patterns. There are so many beautiful patterns that I want to make, I figure why create my own. If you want to enter shows you should work on creating your own original quilt
    First of all, welcome to the board from a fellow quilter (this one is in HOT WI!). I, too, prefer to use patterns. Design just isn't my strong suite so I leave it to those who do it much better. But it's just whatever you want to do. There's no right or wrong. And believe me... there's no quilt police allowed 'round these parts! LOL! Just enjoy!!!
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  11. #11
    Senior Member pjaco's Avatar
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    I am never happy when I try to make my own pattern. I agree with looking at Google images, you can even specify the type or color of quilts you want to look at. Also look a pinterest, they have loads and some include patterns. And blogs, love them ! Make it easy on yourself, because you will make lots of quilts. A lot of times, I mis-cut and have to improvise...no biggie, just go with it.
    P.Jaco
    OKC, OK
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