Choosing a Quilt Design, Colors and Prints

I have made a few quilts over the years, and I brought all but one – my first one, because I couldn’t find it – to our last meeting.  You can see how simple my designs are.  I’m not a complicated person.  🙂


I made this one for Rosie six or seven years ago.  The blocks are large, about 6″ each.  I’d chosen all of the different “rosie” fabrics, and I had two options for the solid blocks, a deep cranberry red and the sage green I ultimately chose.  My pattern was only that no two adjacent floral blocks could be the same.


This is the one I made for Tommy for Christmas this year.  It, too, is actually a very simple design in which a large rectangle is cut into various width strips and then mixed and matched with the other fabric patterns to create unique blocks.  Super simple, and fun to lay out on the living room floor.

I confess I have not really been a fan of sewing for much of my life.  I love the finish product, but I hated the process: the cutting, the pinning, the pressing… bleh.  It’s been growing on me lately, and I sewed gifts for everyone this past Christmas, from quilts to dolls to menstrual pads.  And I’m still sewing.  Maybe that’s how I’m nesting this time?  🙂

Anyway, in the wee hours of the mornings, I like to cruise the internet, looking at other people’s quilts.  Many, many, many of them are much too complex and complicated for my skills and ambitions, but I like to look at them anyway.  They give me ideas and inspirations, maybe for new color combinations or piecing designs or ways to use those impossibly large prints that I happen to love.  But in the end, I mostly stick to using square or rectangular shapes.  Half-square triangles are easy and interesting to work with, too.  For projects I’ll actually make, I google things like easy quilts, beginner quilts, or simple quilts.  I save the ones I like to my pinterest board, along with a note about why I like it or who I like it for.

This is how I found the pattern for Tommy’s quilt.  It kind of reminded me of flying over the Midwest, looking out the window of the airplane at the patterns of fields on the ground, all in different shades of greens, golds and browns, mostly rectangular, but sometimes inexplicably round.  (Who plows a field in the round?) Tommy loves his farm life and I wanted his quilt to reflect that, but also to be something he wouldn’t outgrow too quickly.


Then I started thinking about colors.  If you click on that tutorial for Tommy’s quilt, she talks about choosing fabrics so they contrast and compliment each other both in color and in scale.  Very helpful advice!  I found this fabric print, and though I did not want to actually use it, I did like the color combinations.  So I went about locating as great a variety as I could of reds, browns, greens, yellows, and blues, some with larger motifs, others nearly solid.  I ended up with fifteen or sixteen different fabrics in the end, some pulled from my collection, some purchased online, and some bought locally.  It took me about a month to find everything I wanted, just because I wanted so many different prints and because once I make up my mind, I do not tend to compromise.  I want what I want and that’s that.  Nice looking golden yellow fabrics are extremely difficult to find.  🙂


Quilts made for others need to reflect the personalities and tastes of the people they’re made for.  I have already selected and gathered the fabrics for my next quilt, which will be a twin-size for Brenna.  She’s a quiet person, introspective, muted.  I found this one fabric I loved for her, and then chose the rest of the fabrics around it.  (I may still have to adjust with some less boisterous prints.)  I’m also in love with the disappearing nine patch block.  I’ll probably start cutting for this one in the next few days, but who knows when I’ll finish.  🙂

On the other hand, Delaney is adventurous, talkative, and bold.  For her, I like this quilt, and I’ve been cutting the squares and circles from scraps from other projects as I finish them.

When I get to Penelope, I’ll probably make her something like this Pathway quilt with lots of bright colors, because, again, that’s just the kind of girl Penelope is.

So there you go.  Look around, see what sorts of things you like, decide what you think you can manage, and give it a go!

Next time, fabric sources and a few things it’s really handy to have if you’re going to quilt.

12 Comment

  1. It’s like I’m a dog and you just said, “SQUIRREL!!” 🙂

    1. I know. It’s awful, isn’t it? 🙂

  2. You are giving me the courage to believe I can actually quilt! I have often thought it too complicated for my skills, but I can cut rectangles and squares…and I am very good at following recipes, patterns, instructions. I think I can, I think I can…!

  3. I LOVE that disappearing nine square!

    PS I don’t know about anyone else, but that new quilt doesn’t say boy OR girl to me. 😉

      1. Ah, yes, but if that is just a thought and not a tidbit of knowledge, I can’t start cutting squares.

        1. Yes, just a guess and I wouldn’t buy pink fabric on a hunch.

          1. My lips are sealed. 🙂

  4. Still trying to decide in a project. What size quilt would you recommend to start with I don’t need a baby size but bigger is scary.

    1. Maybe a lap quilt for the couch? Or just a throw pillow, which could be just one single, large square?

  5. May do a lap quilt. I’ll keep looking at info! Thanks. Hope you are still feeling good! If you don’t make it to our meeting who will be teaching us?

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