confession of a patternmaker: about three days after making my first quilt blocks, i decided that i really did not like cutting to measure. :D it's not that i couldn't do it--i had the tools, i had the know-how--but it was really BORING. every block looked like every other block, and every block looked like everybody else's blocks.
so i gave up doing it that way. even now, i rarely make a quilt block using a template or cutting to measure--i only do it if i'm working on a project that requires it (which means it is usually not my own project). instead i cut by eye, or i piece and then cut.
for example, i made these log cabin blocks completely free-hand. i started with a piece that was more or less square, added a strip that i cut without a ruler, and continued around and around, like usual, but without using any precut or premeasured pieces of fabric. (i apologize in advance for the low quality of these images--this was the dark ages, when digital cameras first hit the consumer market and cost half a billion dollars--thus these are scans of the actual quilt blocks, not photos).
the next block is a variation of the log cabin, it is my version of the pineapple block, which i called "pineapple right side up". i have no idea why i called it that. i was in the habit of naming my blocks.
some of my favorite blocks for free-hand piecing are houses. at one point i had so many house blocks that i started giving them away. these were all made by taking pieces out of my scrap box and piecing them at will. i'd start with a center piece, usually a door, then add a wall, trim it if necessary, and continue adding bits just like for the log cabin block. i made many of these to send to my friend tiina who collects quilts for preemies. these quilts were TINY--each finished quilt was only 15" square. i have lots of good memories of quilting these backstage during a christmas show. i hoped the little houses would keep the babies cozy until they were able to go to their real homes. (tiina, if you see this, i have been thinking about you and pray you are well).
ocassionally i need or want to make a block for a special project, like the HUG quilts we used to make on the rec.crafts.textiles.quilting newsgroup (the last one i participated in was at least 10 years ago--i see they are still making them!). this heart block was made for someone i knew only as "singer", a member of the RCTQ group that needed a HUG. it is pieced freehand, then i did a free-motion embroidery sun on it (from the back, using metallic thread in the bobbin), and i wrote a little message and signed it.
these are both moon over the mountain blocks, pieced and then with two different kinds of applique moons. i don't love these, but i don't hate them either. i have no idea what i used them for. LOL
revisiting these photos makes me think it is time to get out the scraps again. the little houses were lots of fun and i'm very home-centric these days.
this style of piecing is definitely not for everbody, but if you enjoy a little improvisation, give this a try! you might get hooked too.
*the first HUG quilt we made on RCTQ was for a member named ruth, who died from cancer so quickly after her diagnosis that we were not able to give it to her. :( we gave it to her family. but we had collected so many quilt blocks, from all over the world, that we were able to make a second quilt, which we raffled off to raise money to help her family defray expenses. i am honored to say that i was able to participate in about a dozen HUG quilt projects on RCTQ and am currently involved in a new local HUG project that has lead me down this memory lane.
*gwen marston has written a series of books on "liberated quiltmaking" in which she describes the process, as well as the philosophy, of this way of making quilts. even if you have no interest in following this method, the quilts in her books are really beautiful to look at.