I’m trying not to write a book here, but it is difficult as my head is buzzing with ideas. So, this time we’ll look at using blocks – traditional blocks, altered blocks and your own designs. Using traditional blocks is where we all start when designing a quilt and, having chosen our block we then have to decide on a setting – straight set, on-point, with or without sashing. I’m going to start with the perennial traditional favourite – Ohio Star – and look at what happens when we use different settings and add in alternate colours (and as pictures are much better than words I won’t add anymore!)

What happens if we use an alternate block between our stars? First the Ohio Star with its slightly altered cousin – Swamp Angel – and then changing the colours around too as that can make quite a difference.

Now  an 8-pointed star variation with a slightly altered Ohio Star (Swamp Angel) and then an altered 8-pointed star with the original Ohio Star and then Swamp Angel with the altered Star. Notice how the illusion of circles appears in the last one. If you squint hard you can see it in the first one too, but it is more subtle.

What about the other blocks we altered earlier on in the year? There was the Ohio Star with 4-patches in the squares – first straight set and then turning alternate blocks around. Who stole the stars? And Ohio Star with small triangles in the squares – which adds more stars.

Then we drew the Ohio Star on a log grid, so what quilts do we get when we set those together and turn them around? Perhaps not a quilt to snuggle under if you already have a headache!

Finally we drew our own block designs – without a grid first. Note how changing the placement of dominant colours can alter the look of the same arrangement of the block

And then using a grid. Here’s two I made earlier . . . This first very graphic block makes some interesting patterns when turned around

but I settled on this one in the end. The quilt top was donated to Siblings Together, completed by Sew Love to Sew and quilted by Pippa’s Patch.

These more autumnal blocks are still in a bag waiting for me to make my mind up about which way to stitch them together – I like all the different settings equally!

If you want to stick with traditional blocks but with a different slant then perhaps choose those that create secondary patterns where they meet or use two blocks as I showed above with the Ohio Star and 8-pointed Star and the Ohio Star blocks with bits added in the corners. These are some little wall-hangings I have made over the years (and the patterns for them are available to buy).

Barbara Chainey and I often combine blocks to create virtual designs. If you would like some more ideas then look at chrisandbarbara EQ Doodle posts on our blog where you can download free colouring sheets – cut them up and rearrange them to make your own virtual quilts.

You can also download free templates for some of the blocks shown here from my UKQU Pattern Store.