We’ve all been there – you see a quilt in a show, on Facebook or Instagram, on the cover of a magazine and think “I’d like to make one like that, but how has it been done?”. At a show, with the quilt in front of you, it can be easier to work out than just looking at a picture of the quilt, or part of the quilt. Often you find that there is a pattern you can buy, but supposing there isn’t? Many quilts use traditional blocks and the trick to working out a quilt is to find that block, or those blocks (using two different blocks in a quilt can make for more interesting designs).

So here’s some easy ones to start with

Did you find them? Nine-patch blocks on point, Bow Ties (the 3D variation, although it is difficult to see that in a photo), and Double Nine-Patch.

But what about these?

They are all two-block quilts. The purple one uses Yankee Puzzle and a Mosaic block; the blue one uses Mosaic 18 and Frayed Sawtooth Star; while the citrus one uses Clay’s Choice and a Double Diamond in a Square. Both the purple and citrus ones have the design continued into the border which could make working out the blocks a little more difficult.

And then there’s quilts like these

Can you work out how these were made? Perhaps think ‘unit’ rather than ‘block’ and you will see the black and white one is just 4-patch and Quarter-Square Triangle units, the autumnal one is just squares made from two unequal sized rectangles (left-overs from another project) while the bright one is the Square and Triangles unit.

Part of the joy of our hobby is being inspired by the quilts others have made and putting our own interpretation on them – different colour choices, different arrangements of the blocks, or a different size.

It is next to impossible to re-create exactly a quilt someone else has made – and why would you want to? Magazine editors despair of those who see a pattern and want to know where to buy the fabric as by the time the quilt has been made, the pattern written up , accepted by the magazine, edited into the magazine style and finally published, the fabrics have long since vanished from the shops and been replaced by new ranges. So let’s go and seek inspiration and make our own interpretation of quilts we like.

So now, just because, . . . have a look at this quilt and see if you can work it out. Answers next month when I talk about how to re-create a quilt you like but for which there is no pattern available. Just remember to credit the original maker/quilt as ‘inspiration’ if you exhibit it.



  1. Ami Richards

    I really enjoyed reading this, because that is exactly what I try to do when I see a quilt that I like, I try to work out how it was made. I do struggle with the block names as I’m still learning them, but I can so relate to what you have written. I look forward to reading the next one.