How To Quilt – The Plain Square Quilt Block
The most fundamental of quilt blocks is the plain square. That block could actually be square or rectangular. And that piece could make up the entire quilt or it could be one of many blocks in the quilt. However they are designed, plain, simple quilt blocks are an easy, quick quilt design.
The blocks for a blanket don’t have to be made of cotton fabric. My initial introduction to knitting and crochet was instruction for a square to be combined with others pieced together. In practicing my new skill, many, many square-ish blocks of various colors and types of yarn were created and then bound together. It was a practical and useful result for my initial efforts in needle-craft. All of my dolls were well covered in knit or crocheted blankets created from the colorful blocks. Using a much lighter weight thread for crocheted blocks, the square can even be laid over a fabric piece and sewn into a cotton fabric quilt.
The simplest of quilt top to create is the whole cloth quilt. It is easy to create but not so easy to quilt. Because of the lack of design, more focused attention is given to the quilting, so the quilting will be under a greater scrutiny. When done well, whole cloth quilts are spectacular. Because they are essentially made up of one large quilt block, I am including whole cloth in the category of plain quilt square.
Plain fabric blocks are an easy, quick and beautiful addition to any quilt top. With all of the amazing fabric patterns available, plain square quilt blocks combine into wonderful creations. More often, they are used as fill space between more intricately pieced blocks. Like the knitted blocks, very few of us who learned these skills as a child don’t have small starter quilts made of plain fabric squares. Those quilt blocks can be made of patterned fabric or a solid color.
Fabric manufacturers also offer large images printed right on the material. Pictures of solar systems or teapots or African wildlife are all motifs that require quilt top patterns with ample area to display the images. Plain quilt blocks made up of the beautiful large pictures can be such an interesting addition to a themed quilt top.
Manufacturers are not the only ones with the ability to produce photographic images on quilt blocks. By using photo transfer fabric sheets, a personal picture can be printed onto a cotton quilt block. Memory quilts, capturing important events, people or places are perfect for personally printed squares. These blocks can be interspersed with other meaningful fabrics to increase the memorialization in the entire quilt.
Painting on fabric is another option. Painting technologies improve constantly and the development of new and better tools and materials make fabric painting more and more durable and easier to accomplish. The painting can be of images or can be made of written words. Write names, titles or events. Writing can be of every day script or fancy calligraphy. Painting can be done with inks, acrylics or metallics.
Another way to personalize plain fabric quilt blocks is to embroider on it. My first embroideries on quilt squares were done by hand. Later quilt blocks were machine embroidered. Adding embroideries that personalized a quilt meant for someone special is an easy, beautiful way of creating a one of a kind gift or memorial.
Images, embroideries or designs can be further embellished by including lace, ribbon, crystals, leather or whatever else can be sewn on to further impart the message being created in the quilt.
All in all, the most basic of quilt blocks, a plain square, can be transformed into a truly unique and creative expression. Plain isn’t necessarily so plain.