Welcome to another Exploring the Basics installment. Today we are talking layout. Now you may ask - why do I need to be worried about layout? Well, let's look at it from a few different perspectives.
The Basics of Layout
What is layout? No, we aren't talking about a sunscreen slathered, beach tune listening, sun soaking experience. Although that sounds pretty good!
In basic terms, it is the way the quilt blocks are laid out. Laid out. Layout. Get it?! Let's look at some examples.
One traditional layout is a grid. Paradise Cubed (above) uses a very traditional 3x4 grid, or four rows of three blocks each. The blocks are butted up to each other with nothing separating them, and then surrounded by a narrow and a wide border.
Grid quilts are usually pretty easy to put together because the blocks are all the same size. Unless your blocks didn't come out the same size, you can assemble the quilt in rows, which many find super easy and straight forward.
With a grid format, sashing can be added. In Melon Blossom (above) green sashing has been added to separate the blocks. The green also helps create the feeling of leaves and vines - bonus!
Sashing doesn't complicate assembly. In fact, some quilters prefer it, as it can help even things out if your blocks didn't come out perfect. From a quilt layout perspective, sashing can also help with pressing and seams, as it provides a nice solid break between pieced seams in a complex block.
On point, or diagonal set, quilts are quilts that are assembled at an angle. Relax - it is NOT as scary as it may sound! Looking at Fizz (above), it may appear that this is a grid layout. But it isn't. The on point blocks, blocks that are "balanced on their point, or corner" come together to create the secondary design of extending pinwheels.
With on point, or diagonal set, quilt layouts, diagonal rows are stitched together, and include the setting triangles. Setting triangles are those triangles (in the case of Fizz, background fabric) that run along the outside edges of the quilt. Note: setting triangles CAN be pieced blocks as well.
Pieced setting triangles? Yup! Elementz BOM (above) has a combination of pieced setting triangles (there are two - can you spot them?) and fabric setting triangles. Oh - and do you see one other layout element at work? Hint: I just discussed it when talking about a grid layout.
Yes, you are right! Sashing! Ah....so on point or diagonal set quilts can have sashing? You betcha! In fact, Elementz is a PERFECT example of when sashing can be your best friend. Those blocks have a LOT of seams. If they butted up to each other, you might have some serious bulk. But with that narrow sashing, you can press to the sashing, letting all those seams relax. And - added bonus - the sashing gives the blocks some breathing room, allowing each to really shine!
So mind blowing moment. Brace yourself. Sashing can have blocks in it as well! Boom! Double boom! What, you may say? Yes, dear quilty buddy. Look at Atomic Bombshell (above). It is an on point, or diagonal set, quilt (the large spiky blocks). Those long diamonds and center squares are pieced blocks - and they are acting as sashing for the larger blocks. Ahhh...the possibilities!
A medallion layout is a quilt that starts from the center. The design is focused or builds out from the center. In Monkey Bread (above), that center sawtooth star block is the center of the quilt, the medallion.
An element of medallion quilts that can make them more construction friendly are coping strips. As the name implies, they can help you "cope" with any inconsistencies. In Monkey Bread, the coping strips are those purple borders. If the medallion (or any of the surrounding pieced borders) are smaller or larger than they are supposed to be, the coping strip size can be changed to accommodate those differences.
Panel based quilts could be considered medallion quilts - because the panel is the center of the quilt, and the rest of the quilt builds off of the panel. They often use the element of coping strips to help quilters, as panel sizes can vary. Calm (above) uses wide coping strips (see them - those wide blue gray borders between the panel and the pieced outer border?).
Rows can be horizontal or vertical. Each can create a fun effect! Lovely Woods (above) is an example of a horizontal row by row quilt. The pieced tree rows alternate with fussy cut solid rows from a repeating stripe fabric (this one is from Island Batik - I LOVE that they are bringing in elements such as a repeating row prints that are usually only seen in print fabric!).
And then there's the vertical row layout. Just like it sounds, the rows are - wait for it - vertical! Diamond Dance is an obvious vertical row quilt, but others may be less obvious. It, and Lovely Woods, each use other elements common in other layouts - sashing and setting blocks (not setting triangles, but still....blocks that provide spacing).
Now that you are becoming super sleuth quilt layout detectives, you may be able to quickly spot that Mary's Contrary Garden is a vertical layout quilt! Ah, yes - you see it!
When A Quilt is None of the Above
So it can happen - quilts don't HAVE to be one of the layouts featured above. They could be a hybrid of sorts. Luminous, the quilt along project Kate (Seams Like a Dream) and I are hosting right now, is sort of a diagonal set quilt....but not in nice neat little rows.
Compass Points is another - a hybrid of sorts. There is some partial seaming, and it is kind of a medallion set (centered around the larger center compass point block).
So it can happen. Don't let it throw you.
Doing it Your Way
When you purchase a pattern, layout is already determined for you. The pattern, as I always tell my students, is just the beginning. So if you don't like the layout, or if you are feeling like branching out on your own, you can!
But maybe you are ready to do your own thing, and create your own quilt. Ready to play designer and do things free style? Yes, you can! But first let's look at what a couple of layouts look like - without any fabric or piecing.
Here is a line drawing of a basic grid layout with sashing. Once you start pulling it apart, it isn't intimidating at all, is it? As you can see, the blocks and sashing all line up, and it can be assembled in rows or in columns.
I've created a little worksheet you can download if you want a few general steps to get you started on creating your own grid layout. You can get it here: Download Playing With Layout Basic Grid Worksheet.
Ah, but what about that on point layout you mentioned? I have you covered.
As you can see, the on point layout isn't so scary. As I mentioned earlier, the blocks are still sewn together in rows, but because the blocks are "on point" or rotated at a 45 degree angle, the rows are simply stitched together in diagonal rows.
I added the red lines so you could clearly see the diagonal rows. In the diagram, you can also clearly see those setting triangles I mentioned. However, don't be fooled. These are NOT squares cut in half corner to corner. Please please please DO NOT do that!
Cutting a square in half corner to corner will put the bias (the stretchy part of the fabric) on the outside and may cause your quilt to be wavy. Hmmm....I'm seeing a post in the future on creating setting triangles. Ok - so I'm got that on my to do list, and we will discuss in detail in a future post!
While I've covered a LOT of different layouts with you, I haven't covered all of them! There are many many more options! That's one of the amazing aspects of quilting for me - all of the possibilities.
Kate is going to have more insights on layout for you as well, so hop on over to her blog to get more helpful suggestions!
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