This month we are making blocks for our first border. You can use the same block for all four sides (traditional medallion style), create a log cabin look with one block on two sides and a different block on the other two sides, or use different block designs on each of the sides.
Since this is the first of five borders, smaller is better than larger. Think about something on the order of a finished size of 2-4 inches for the finished height of your first border. However, if you are making a larger quilt and you plan to make a bigger center/focal block, you can certainly go larger.
How Many Blocks to Make?
So many variables here…
If you are making a relatively traditional border around the focal block, we suggest you make 10-12 blocks at this point. That gives you 3 blocks per side as a starting point. You may want more eventually if you are going for a more traditional, symmetric look (see diagram for what a traditional medallion might look like) or have a larger center block. If you already have your focal block in hand, or know how big it will be, you can make enough blocks to go around it. You can also add spacer strips or solid fabric blocks later to make the border fit your center block once it is done.
If you are going to do an asymmetric design, you may only want a few pieced blocks for this border.
Unless you have a very firm vision of what the final quilt is going to look like, do not put the borders together at this point. Leave yourself flexibility as you play with the new border prompt next month and as you make a final decision regarding your focal block the month after that.
Block Inspiration Ideas – Lines
“Line” is our prompt for this month. You can use lines to create designs in each block, or aim for the effect of a line or lines around your center block in this border. This will make more sense when you see the examples. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the length of this list- you only need to choose one block style, we just wanted to give you lots of options.
|Rail Fence – classic block
||Rail Fence – Improv style
||Inset strips with pieced insets
|Rail Fence with varied lengths
||Strut or Lock Up blocks (from MQG site)
||Plus Signs or Hash Tags
|Improv Strip Piecing
||Seminole Patchwork designs
|Block of your choice
||Liberated cross blocks
||Improv Zig Zags
||Block of your choice
||Block of your choice
This very basic block is easy to make with strip piecing, the fun comes when you cross cut the strips and play with the size and arrangements. The basic block is 3-4 strips of fabric pieced together- the strips are traditionally the same width, but they don’t have to be.
Below is a line drawing of a traditional rail fence block, followed by some arrangements that vary the size and the coloring. The possibilities are endless.
More variations using simple strips and lines are featured in one of the MQG Block Studies blocks, Lockup, by Riane Menardi Morrison. https://community.themodernquiltguild.com/resources/lockup-january-2018
Another variation that could create a fun look is the Strut block by Silvia Sutters: https://community.themodernquiltguild.com/resources/strut-block-february-2017
Want a more organic, improvisational look? Check out this tutorial from Victoria Findley Wolfe. Cut pieces with straight or wavy edges. http://bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com/2009/10/waverunner-info-post-save.html
Create blocks with one or more inset strips and play with the arrangement to achieve something pleasing.
For more interest, piece and cross cut strip sets to use as the inset strip. Marianne Anderegg had a good example of this at our last Sew and Tell. A detail from her Sunset Through the Trees quilt is shown below:
Basic inset strip method: https://www.quiltingdaily.com/modern-quilting-trick-easy-method-for-inserting-fabric-strips-quilting-daily/
Skinny Strips method: https://3rdstoryworkshop.com/tutorial-skinny-strips-and-inset-seaming-for-the-2019-quiltcon-charity-challenge
An overlay method: https://entropyalwayswinsblog.com/2017/09/23/inset-pieced-seams-on-the-fly-a-tutorial/
Make a simple 9-patch plus sign block and vary the size to make a fun border.
Alternatively, try an improv version with crosscut inset strips (Liberated Cross Blocks): http://lollyquiltz.blogspot.com/2010/04/liberated-cross-blocks.html
Take it one step further and make an improv hash tag block with two inset strips in each direction.
Have you heard of Seminole Patchwork? It is a method from the Seminole Indians in Florida and was used to make intricate borders that were usually part of clothing. Here is a simple tutorial for a basic on-point square pattern: https://www.getasquiltingstudio.com/2020/05/rainbow-seminole-patchwork-tutorial.html
Google or search Pinterest for Seminole Patchwork and you’ll find lots of other interesting designs that can be made by playing with the number and width of the fabric strips and the size and angle of the cuts. Some examples below:
Improv Strip piecing
This creates a lovely jagged line effect. It is almost an improv style Seminole piecing. Check out the photos and tutorial at http://whatarajaneloves.blogspot.com/2011/02/bits-and-blocks.html
None of these ideas inspiring you?
Pick any block you like and use it as the basis for your first border round. For any patchwork block, you have choices:
- Make it as originally designed
- Make it wonky
- Alter the proportions
- Remove or add elements
- Rotate some of the blocks in the border to add movement and interest
More Resources for Inspiration
Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/quiltguild/medallion-quilt-inspiration/
Basic Seminole Patchwork by Cheryl Greider Bradkin, 1990
Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston, 2010
Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers, complied by Suzanne Woods, 2011
Modern Plus Sign Quilts by Cheryl Brickey and Paige Alexander, 2018
Simply Seminole by Dorothy Hanisko, 1997
Please be social!
Don’t forget to tag your progress pictures on Instagram! Use the hashtags #SeaMQGSalsaBOM or #smqgbom2021 to share your BOM progress.
Also continue to use the hashtags #seamqg #seattlemqg #showusyourmqg and #seattlemqgsewathome to share the wonderful quilts you’re creating.
We will aim to post the next instructions right before the March meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!