Thursday 29 May 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - Identifying 'Odd Ball' Blocks

We have had a few weeks break from our Decipher Your Quilt series (with Leanne of She Can Quilt off on her Market jaunt, and me madly working on projects for deadlines), but we are back today to talk about 'odd ball' blocks. I will be showing you how to identify some of these blocks and Leanne will be talking about the maths side of things.
The Elven Garden

So what do we mean by 'odd ball' block? You've probably realised by now (since we've been hitting you over the head with it!) that most quilt blocks can fit on a grid of equal sized squares. Well, there are several blocks that don't fit into a grid, or aren't square blocks, so that's what we'll be talking about today. Some examples are flying geese, improv blocks, my beloved snail trail block and log cabins. Leanne will also be talking about QSTs in addition to some of the block types I'll be talking about today.

Let's start by looking at log cabin blocks, one of my favorite blocks and (in my opinion) one of the most versatile quilt blocks out there. This type of log cabin is what first comes to mind for me, the traditional style with light value in one corner of the block, and darker value in the opposite corner (or contrasting colours placed in the opposite corners).

When placed in a quilt, you can create some fantastic designs using log cabins - and it is quite easy to identify the blocks within a quilt like this.

Another really common variation on this is the Courthouse Steps block. Again, it uses light and dark to create the design within the block, but the construction is slightly different to the classic log cabin.

You can create some really interesting designs using this block as well - and again it is quite easy to identify the blocks within the quilt.

 Log cabin blocks can also be made with the starting square in a corner of the block rather than the centre, and the logs don't have to be the same width throughout the whole block.

Log cabin blocks are one of my favorite improv blocks too - where the logs can be slightly wonky and/or value placement is random. One example of an improv log cabin quilt is my Full Moon Lagoon quilt I made last year. It is a little harder to see the blocks within this quilt, because I added a lot of extra logs while I was piecing the blocks together. There was no standard size when I made the blocks, so to make them fit within a quilt top, there was a lot of trimming and adding extra strips as I went along. It is a really fun way to make a quilt :o)

One of my other absolute favorite blocks is the Snail Trail (or Monkey Wrench) block. This block is an odd ball, in that it doesn't fit on any sort of grid.

I personally think the Snail Trail block is one of the most interesting blocks out there - there is SO much you can do with this block in terms of colour and value placement, and the secondary patterns you can create with it. I have made several projects using these blocks - a rainbow mini quilt

And Outfoxed on the High Seas.

As you can see, it is quite easy to identify the blocks within the quilt, and to create an interesting design using them. If you're interested, I do have a tutorial for this block :o)

The flying geese (goose? not sure if there is a singular with this one or not?) block is another one that is a classic and incredibly versatile block.

One of my current favorite reinventions of flying geese is this amazing block, 'Migration' designed by Charlotte. I have my Ausmod bee girls making these for me at the moment :o)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of blocks that don't fit on a grid, but they are some of my favorites - if you have any others that I've missed and think should be here, please let me know and I will update this post :o)

That's it from me today - but please make sure you head over and see what Leanne has to say about the maths behind some of these odd ball blocks.

xx Jess


Charlotte said...

oooh, that's my baby! Thanks :-D

Nelly Kelly said...

Just wanted to say a quick thanks.. I have really enjoyed this series. I've been designing a few quick projects here and there, and I don't have an extensive quilting reference library or quilty software, so this series has been a great reference! Thanks for all the hard work!!

Carli The Quilter said...

Congrats Jess, you deserve it!!

Katy Cameron said...

Your full moon lagoon is my favourite :o)

Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

Great inspiration as always, look forward to seeing your geese blocks!