Have you ever thought about how useful the internet is? I’m sure you have – after all, you are reading this blog! I have no doubt that you have also used the internet to source fabric, research patterns and ideas, and to communicate with other like-minded people.

There is no doubt that the internet is a very useful tool – it brings people together (although this is not always a good thing, given that some people use the internet for nefarious reasons), and although they are far apart, they can talk as if they are in the same room. It allows us to learn from home, without having to attend classes and workshops – particularly useful for those who cannot leave their home – due to distance, illness or family commitments. It allows us to share ideas with others, and get ideas, inspiration, help.

It is a source of tutorials and free patterns: have you looked at some of the fabric designers / suppliers websites? Quite a few of them have free patterns available to download and save, using their latest range of fabrics. Pinterest is a fantastic resource, but beware – it can also end up giving you more ideas than you will ever be able to realise in fabric, and can also act as a time portal: you think you’ve only spent a few minutes looking at it, and suddenly several hours have passed by!

However, my thought about how useful the internet is, is based on the availability of patterned papers. I have a love of stationery (I know I have the spelling for this right, because stationEry – you can imagine that the letter E at the end is like a set of shelves on which you can place books and pens and pencils – stationery in fact!) – although this may now have been surpassed by my love of fabric…I used to look for lovely paper on which to write letters – pads which had a lovely design. However, these pads, although could be a design inspiration, are not so helpful for designing a quilt. I refer instead to papers such as graph paper, squared paper and isometric paper. It used to be the case that I had to buy such papers from shops, or obtain it during my Maths lessons at school. Today, it is possible to find such papers online these days – and free of charge! It is even possible to find hexagon paper – so you don’t have to make up the hexagons from the isometric paper!

Isometric paper – this is the paper made from lots of equilateral triangles. It is useful as you can make a variety of shapes and designs with it – triangles, diamonds, hexagons. 

This revelation came to me when I was working on a brick type design for a quilt. I had cut a charm pack in half, yielding rectangles 2.5” by 5”, and used them with a similar sized white rectangle in between. Once I had created one quilt top, I had plans for another one, but wanted a slightly different design. I tried drawing out the pattern and colouring it in, but without much success. I turned to the internet – and after a little searching, I found the design I wanted. It isn’t the first time I’ve done this – and it is useful to have such websites saved for future use, or to download the useful papers, so that you have them to hand when you need them. The website I used is: www.printablepaper.net

A design using a brick pattern – great to do because there are no matching seams!
Brick design paper

The hexagon paper is very useful if you have started an EPP project, and want to square up the quilt. This is easy to do if you have created an EPP quilt without a specific pattern (random / scrappy – in the sense of using all scraps), but if you have created a quilt with a design – e.g. diamond or lozenge shapes, grandmother’s flower garden, it is very easy to sew the pieces together and discover that it is growing and growing without having straight sides. This is where the hexagon paper is a real boon – you can work out what you need to do to square up the quilt – how many extra pieces you need, and what colours.

Planning a design
Planning a design, and counting the numbers needed

There are design programs available for computers, and apps you can have on mobile devices. Each of these have their place; I like having paper to draft out designs, as I can then add colour to it – colouring can be just as therapeutic as sewing. Adding colour to your design can change the look of the design entirely – and you don’t have to make all the different designs to find out how they will look.

Colour combinations for a pattern called Godshill Squares
Playing with dieamonds
Playing with diamonds again
Playing with diamonds some more

So, in this digital age I shall leave you with a couple of questions to ponder: how many times has the internet helped you with your quilting designs? When was the last time you did some colouring with real pens or pencils and real paper?