Novice quilters looking for their first big projects can be intimidated by elaborate patterns with complicated piecing. On the other hand, many beginner quilt patterns lack the wow factor that today’s quilters crave.
Here are some tips for how to make a simple quilt pattern into a sophisticated and stylish quilt:
1. Choose cutting-edge fabrics.
A relatively easy quilt pattern like a Disappearing Nine-Patch might look like a beginner quilt with run-of-the-mill fabrics. But the simple quilt pattern can also act as a showcase for designer fabrics by Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, Denise Schmidt, and so on.
2. Work with jelly rolls and other pre-cuts. These packages of coordinating fabrics take a lot of the stress and inaccuracy out of measuring, cutting, and piecing. The strips from jelly rolls make great bindings, too.
3. Employ trompe-l’oeil. Instead of piecing a bunch of blocks and stitching those together, cut fabric out of two colors–or a solid and a print–into simple squares. Then build a clever arrangement that fools the eye into thinking the design is the product of more intricate piecing.
4. Give easy quilts a pieced backing. A pieced backing can add creative flair to most any quilt. It needn’t be complicated: Make a large four-patch out of coordinating fabrics or piece one contrasting strip into a field of color. This little extra effort will give your quilt a professional boost.
5. Supersize a block. Instead of making and piecing several blocks, make one giant quilt block as your top. This technique will give your quilt a modern look and pack a visual punch.
Siobhan Rogers uses many of these techniques to create stunning quilts from easy quilt patterns in her book, By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts. It’s perfect for beginning-to-intermediate quilters and anyone who would like to make beautiful quilts but don’t have a lot of spare time.