Have you ever been struck with a quilt idea – a new layout you’d like to try? You doodle on a pad, then try and draft it out on some graph paper which is metric rather than Imperial. Get mixed up and confused and shove the project to one side. Perhaps you are only starting out in your patchwork and quilting journey, would love to try drafting your own patterns but don’t quite know where to start?

Graph Paper for Quilters from Sew Easy 

This graph paper from Sew Easy is, as the name says – so easy! I was sent some to review and wish I’d found it when I was starting out. 12″ square sheets, of which you get 25, that have a grid layout of inch squares divided into fours – for the four quarters. They also have four, eight and twelve inch dividing lines to make it easy to grid out different sizes of quilt blocks.

On various social medias and in my own classes, people ask where they can buy a pattern for a particular quilt. Most of these are single block designs which would be quick and easy to draft yourself but before quilt designers out there panic – I’m not advocating copying others work! That is a definite no, no. I simply suggest that many thousands of quilt blocks are available for you to discover and drafting them yourself is much easier than many people believe.

A lot of the time a sheet of this graph paper, a pencil and rubber and it would be quick work to draft your own quilt. The advantage would also be that you could then copy it and colour in any number of different colour ways. I’ve known quite a few ladies who rely on their retired husbands to draft their ideas which is lovely – a shared interest from different angles.

‘Jane Pizar Coverlet’, The Wilson Museum

Actually, this is not a new phenomenon; couples, friends or relatives working together on quilts. One of the antique quilts I had the privilege to see whilst working on the magazine, was held in the collection of The Wilson in Cheltenham. The ‘Jane Pizar Coverlet’ was the star of the show but we were also shown the ‘Hexagon Coverlet’. This was made by Mary Butler (1753 – 1822) There is a delightful label on the reverse, added at a later date, which documents that ‘On the death of there daughter (Mary Erle Hawker) she went to keep house for her Son in Law Wm Wickham and he used to cut out the paper hexagons on which the quilt is built during the long winter evenings when there were few books or papers.’

‘Hexagon Coverlet’ The Wilson Museum
‘Hexagon Coverlet’ label

With this in mind I thought I’d give this pad a good test by giving it to my son’s girlfriend, I’ve mentioned her before – about how she’s staying with us for a while and has begun to sew some quilted items. Cushions were first, then she went onto making a couple of quilted glasses cases. (She now has a list of about 30 projects she wants to make – to say she has caught the bug is an understatement!)

She leapt at the chance to draw out her ideas for a simple glasses slip case, colouring in the design with the fabrics she’d chosen from my stash. At one point she used a scrap square as her starting point for the sizing of the squares and rectangles she planned to use, she doesn’t like waste either so likes to use every little bit up. That’s where drafting your design is also useful. As my old Dad used to say, ‘poor planning makes for poor performance’. By carefully panning your designs you end up with less waste.

Another advantage to using the graph paper was that she was able to sketch out her quilt design over the top. She’s gone from simple wavy lines of hand quilting to leaves which look fabulous!

I do use quilters software a lot of the time for my designs these days but that is not always as user friendly as I’d like. I often still resort to a doodle or sketch before going down the electronic route. This graph paper is certainly is so perfect for this and something I’ll be using in future.

Special thanks to Groves Ltd for providing the Sew Easy 12″ x 12″ Graph Paper for Quilters and Papercraft.