Quilting Terms: What is a Quilt Block?
In the olden days, before sewing machines, quilters had to make their quilts by hand sewing. Since a large piece of fabric can be cumbersome, quilters tended to make their quilts with quilt blocks. Once all the blocks were made, they would then be sewn together to make the whole quilt. Sometimes a quilter chose to repeat the same block throughout the whole quilt. Other times, she decided to make a variety of blocks and put them together.
What is a Quilt Block?
A quilt block is a small part of a quilt top. A number of quilt blocks together make a quilt. The blocks can be the same, or different from each other.
Quilt blocks can be pieced or appliquéd. Some quilt blocks even form parts of a bigger quilt block.
In the olden days, a quilter would create a pattern for a quilt block and make a quilt. Sometimes she would share their ideas with her friends and family, who in turn would share it with her friends and family. As a result, many people living in the same areas would make the same types of quilts.
Eventually, quilt blocks were advertised in newspapers and sold by mail order. This meant that the quilt patterns were more widespread and the same quilt could be made in many different parts of the world.
Quilt blocks are generally placed in traditional quilts, but contemporary quilts also include them. Some contemporary quilters will use new fabrics, or liberate a block, or combine the blocks in unusual combinations, or place them in unusual settings.
Nowadays there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, different quilt blocks, and new ones are being invented every day.
How to Choose a Quilt Blocks Book
A book that has quilt blocks in it makes a great gift for a quilter. The quilter can choose which blocks she wants to make, and the setting that she prefers.
If you are looking for a book that has quilt blocks in it, here are some things to look for:
Instructions: While most block books have instructions on how to make each block, some, like Dear Jane, do not. If you are buying a book for a beginning quilter, be sure to find a book that has instructions.
Method: Some quilt block patterns are all paper pieced, while others include a variety of blocks that are made using different methods. If your quilter does not like paper piecing, or curved piecing, or appliqué, , then it is better to find a book that has more of the method she likes.
Sizes: Some books will provide patterns for blocks of a particular size. In Sylvia's Bridal Quilt, for example, all of the blocks are the same size. Other books will provide patterns in a variety of sizes. Choose what will work better for your quilter.
Breaking up the process of making a quilt into manageable pieces is very helpful. By making quilt blocks, you can make quilts, even queen and king sized quilts, more manageable. You can make a block or two a day, or whenever you find time, and soon, you realize you have made enough blocks for the whole quilt.