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Some of you may see curved quilt blocks and immediately equate them with advanced sewing skills. BUT before you count yourself out, take a look at my super quick suuuper easy How To Sew Curves YouTube tutorial. (Seriously, do it, then come back. You’ll have a toootally new perspective.)
OK! Now that we’re on the same page and you and I both know that sewing curves is not only doable, but also MEGA easy, I want to show you the very first quilt pattern I ever wrote – Modern Fans.
Modern Fans was not my first quilt design, but it was my first attempt at calculating yardage, writing step-by-step instructions and taking photos/creating illustrations of the process. And man! Was I so slow at it!
Thankfully, my quilt pattern wasn’t very intricate. As you can see this quilt is made up of three fairly easy quilt blocks. The tricky part for me was putting actions into words. The way I think about sewing sounds like this:
“OK, yes...now do that. Sweet! It worked! I don’t fully know why, but let’s go with it. Now, sew this to that and iron that to those and pin some of them together and VIOLA! Now sandwich that and baste it all and sew here and there and badda bing badda bang! Presto alla pesto! A finished quilt!!”
You’d totally buy that pattern, right? I mean, it makes so much sense. Haha well, unfortunately I couldn’t submit that as my pattern instructions because this quilt was selected to be a part of QuiltCon Magazine 2016...and I’m pretty sure they were going to need a few more details from me.
My brain was drawing a blank and I was getting total writers block sitting at a computer. After wasting a few hours clacking away and then deleting it all, I found the best way to write the instructional steps was to DO the steps. So even though I already had a finished quilt sitting next to me, I cut templates, sewed pieces together, ironed seams and wrote each and every step as I was doing them. I didn't remake the whole quilt, but I did make about 6 quilt blocks from start to finish.
For me, I found that in the end I was saving time and writing clearer instructions by doing that. Now when I write a pattern, I work out the initial kinks and issues while making the first quilt, then I go back through the making of the quilt and write the steps.
For those of you who have designed your own quilts, but are intimidated by the idea of writing an actual pattern, I get it. I have been there.
Yes, they are a lot of work, but seeing someone else make a quilt that you designed is such a gratifying feeling. It's become one of my very favorite things about quilting, actually!
Also, if you’re not super "mathy," the idea of calculating yardage, seam allowance and block dimensions can be overwhelming. Here is a link to an online calculator that will help you figure out borders, binding, backing and yardage needed. I have that site bookmarked and refer to it often. Here are a few more tips that can help:
- Stick with an easy quilt block. Beautiful quilts can be made by uniquely arranging and rearranging simple quilts blocks. Don’t force yourself to jump into the deep end right off the bat. Even a simple Half Square Triangle can be rearranged in a new way.
- Have at least one person double check your steps and especially your math. Sometimes things make sense in my head that make zero sense to anyone else. If I didn’t have a second…and usually a third person reading through it and calling me out on my crazy wording, my patterns would be a lot less legible.
- Write to your target audience. Is your audience a skilled quilter who doesn’t need a definition of terms and quilting seam allowances? Or is your pattern appealing to a beginner crowd? If so, add a few tips and terms to help them out.
If you are interested in making this Modern Fans quilt, I promise it’s much easier than it looks (remember that video tutorial you just watched?). You can either pick up a copy of QuiltCon Magazine 2016 or follow this link to download a digital copy.
Aside from being published in QuiltCon Magazine 2016, this Modern Fans quilt was displayed in the QuiltCon West 2016 exhibit in Pasadena, California.
This quilt is currently for sale. Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing it.
Also, if you put me in front of a white wall, I will pose. 😉