Friday, September 28, 2012

Drafting A Quilt Block

IMG_9610Remember my September 10 post…I made the following statement:  “I looked on the internet at other barn quilts and through my quilt books and decided on two blocks to use for the barn quilts.  I chose blocks that could be easily drafted on the 4’ boards.  It is no different drawing them on this large scale as it is to draw small blocks to piece of fabric.”

There have been a few questions about drafting a pieced block so thought I would take you through the steps I use.  (I do use the Electric Quilt program on my computer too to draft and print but it is always good to know how to do it with pencil, paper and rulers.)  You can use this technique to draft a small block or in the case of my barn quilt one that is very large.  I feel that photos really help tell the story so this post will be photo heavy so be warned. Winking smile

The first thing you need to do is find a photo or drawing of the quilt block you want to draft.  In this case I just used the printed block I used for one of the barn quilts I made.  Next draw a square the finished size you want your block to be and in this case you can see I drew a 7” block. (I know an odd size for a quilt block but wanted something that would not be simple one to draw the grid for.) The seam allowances are not included at this point but they are added at the very end so the square you draw is what you want FINISHED.IMG_0216Ok, the outside perimeter is drawn out and next thing to do is study the block picture and see what the basic grid of the block is.  This block is a 4 by 4 equal grid so we will first need to draw grid lines with 4 equal spaces both directions.  It might sound hard to divide 7” into 4 equal spaces but there is a trick to make it easy.IMG_0220First take a ruler and put 0 in one corner….so far not too hard.  The next part is to lay a number on the other side as you see in the photo above and you want to put a number that is divisible by the number of sections you want.  I put the number 8 on the line as you can divide 8 by 4 to get 2”.  Make a dot every 2” along that line….enlarge the photo if you can not see this.  Notice how the width of the block is now divided into 4 equal spaces.

The next step is to draw lines perpendicular to the side edges with the dot as the guide where the line is positioned.  Take a larger ruler and place a line on the ruler on the bottom edge of the block keeping it perfectly lined up then nudge the ruler over until the dot is even with the vertical side of the ruler.  Now is the time to draw a straight line from the top to the bottom.  This will perfectly divide off the first section.  The most important part is keeping the bottom line of the ruler and the bottom line of the block perfectly lined up.  If your ruler is not lined up on that bottom line you will get a section that will be narrower at the top or bottom and you do not want that to happen.IMG_0221Continue to do the same thing with all those dots you made and draw the lines…see now you have the first part of the block drafted.IMG_0222Now the lines need to be drawn the other direction to make our 4 x 4 grid.  It is the same process only instead of putting the 8” mark on the side you put it on the top.  Mark the dots every 2” like before.  IMG_0224Here is a close up photo of the ruler perfectly straight on the bottom of the block and the dot on the right edge of the ruler and all ready for the long line to be drawn.IMG_0226Ta Da….the grid is drawn and ready to put in the block lines.IMG_0228Using a ruler draw in the block divisions.  As you can see I have the main star drawn at this point.IMG_0229As you can also see from the printed block there is a small star in the one section and three stripes in the other three center sections.  They are divided the same way as the larger star so follow along with the photos to see how I did it.IMG_0230For this small star I made my divisions every 1/2”.IMG_0231
IMG_0236For the stripes I used 3/4” marks to make the divisions for the 3 stripes in the single section.  Corner of ruler at 0 and side at 2 1/4” and dots every 3/4”.IMG_0239In the area where the stripes go across 2 sections I made my dots every inch.  It doesn’t matter what number you use so long as it is divisible by the number of sections you are trying to create.  Corner of ruler on 0 and side at 3” and dots every 1”.IMG_0240IMG_0241The block is all drafted and ready.  Since this is an odd sized block at 7” it probably can not be quick pieced or strip cut.    If it is a size that you can strip piece make sure you add 1/4” seam allowances on all sides before you cut.  I would probably make templates and piece this 7” block from the template shapes.  Trace the shape you want from the pattern you just made onto template plastic.  Use your ruler and make another line 1/4” all the way around for seam allowances.  That is it….you have now drafted a block from start to finish.  You can draw any block any size from now on and are not limited to a printed pattern or set of directions for a specific sized block.IMG_0242One thing I do want to mention is I used a large sharpie marker to draw the above block so you could see it but if you are doing this for a real block you would want to use a very sharp pencil or mechanical pencil so you have more accurate lines.

Here is a web page from Quilters Cache with the same kind of drafting I do and a trick or two that are different.  If you are interested in easily drafting other types of blocks just do an internet search as there are lots of good tutorials that are easy to follow the directions.

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Happy Drafting,

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