I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tips on picking a paper piecing pattern

In the previous post I mentioned that for my CQJP2015 project I had chosen Sharon Boggin's Block 28 from the "I dropped the button box quilt".   All these block patterns can be found here   They are a fabulous resource and Sharon is so generous to make them available..    She has by far been the biggest influence on my crazy quilting and I can never say enough kind words about her.
I received a comment this morning from a newby that she was overwhelmed by the number of patterns available and thought she just might pick a number at random... NO NO NO... There are things to consider. First I chose number 28 because it has more patches than I usually do.... (because I have so many fabrics for this project).  It is also a very balanced block with the patches at random to each other..

If it were my first block I might chose one with fewer patches.  This block is also well balanced with a random layout.   In fact this is very similar to the one I used for my Morris block. For that  I had very wild graphic fabrics and lots of images so I chose a simpler block  ...

But there are other factors also... and many times it is just a personal preference.  I mentioned I liked the patches in a random pattern so I would not pick this block with all the patches in a row.... 

There are two things I always avoid  and that are patterns that will end up with small awkward corner patches... like patch #8 here..  If I were to use this pattern I would make that patch larger to begin with.  In fact I just worked on a block in a recent RR that had 3 tiny difficult corner patches.  I think I blogged about it..   So just be sure to look at all patches when considering a pattern....

The second  thing to be aware of is where seams intersect.  I try to avoid blocks where several seams come together like where pieces 4 & 5 meet at piece 6.  Depending on your fabrics and your skill level, this could be problematic.

Here your have seam 5 & 4 coming to piece 7 dangerously close to where you are also most likely have a seam allowance.  Multiple converging seams often have bulk that is hard to conceal and stitch through...  Keep an eye out for them.

This is a great block but I would divide both pieces 5 and 6 into two sections to make it more balanced... Keep in mind that you can always do that to any of the patches if you think ahead.

My second choice when I was choosing for this project was # 52 except I would divide piece 6 into two pieces...  I have printed it to use in the future...

Janet Stauffacher also  posts crazy quilt patterns.  Her blocks have allowed for an image.  She has a Free Crazy Quilt Block Patterns board at Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/j…/free-crazy-quilt-block-patterns/  Be sure to check hers also..

I did this post for Mary Ann, but  if you think you are going to be a paper piecer like me, this post is for you also...

p.s.  I actually have seen IN PERSON the "I dropped the button box" quilt and have endless photos of it...


  1. this will be so helpful to new crazy girls, I made my blocks randomly but will in future take more care and follow your instructions

  2. Great points to consider, Gerry, even for us veterans. I would add that Block #21 would be great if you wanted to do lots of seam treatments, and then use the large corner patch for a focal silk ribbon bouquet, a silkie or a feature piece of vintage lace to embellish. And you are so right about seams converging near the block edge. That was a problem for me in the cream CQ I just assembled. Fantastic post!

  3. Thank you so much Gerry:) This is fabulous information. I have found myself with these exact problems and struggled as a result. So now I'm off to take a very careful look at Sharon's selection.

  4. I have another question. When you place fabrics on a block do you consider the colour values. What I mean is the balance of dark colours against light colours. Does it matter? I did one block where just by accident it ended up with all dark colours in the middle and light colours on the outside. It looked a bit strange. All the focus was to the middle. Hopefully what I'm saying here makes sense:)