Blocks of the Month and Creative Limitations

I love the variety of Blocks of the Month (BOM) available over the internet. They are great for learning techniques in manageable portions, with results that are beautiful and useful – something to show off, not test pieces to keep in a drawer… My approach to BOM’s is essentially the same – with a slight difference: I want to encourage you to create your own designs. Therefore I will center my posts around questions of design and techniques – from idea to final product:

  • how you can translate your inspiration into fabric
  • design techniques
  • workability and technical challenges
  • improvisation (or: what can you do when it goes wrong?)

On this page: Creative Limitations … why? Creative Limitations and step-by-step decisions What to do with all those blocks?? Theme and Block for December Grab a button for the Block of the Month

Creative Limitations … why?

The possibilities are infinite, which can make it quite difficult to make decisions. That’s where Creative Limitations (CL) come in – they help our brains focus and then refine that focus more and more. The first CL is the Theme of the Month (TOM), a general topic wide enough to apply to all sorts of quilts from traditional over art quilts to experimental. Example: TOM of December 2014 is “The Gift of Your Time” The second CL acts as a point of focus by narrowing down the theme in a more practical way: Example: BOM of December 2014 is “Take Your Time”, which is what the actual block is about, in this case: integrating these words. The third CL helps to focus on or exclusion of certain techniques, just for that month. This will help you to either stretch yourself or to hone existing skills regarding ideas, design and techniques. Example for December 2014: No paints, no markers – and that although words/letters are part of the block. The last and final CL is about purpose: What kind of item will you make? This is something that you’ve got to decide for yourself (see further down) – the only limitation that I offer is that design, materials and techniques have to support the purpose (later use) of the item. Examples: An art quilt that will hang on a wall versus a place mat that you want to throw in the washing machine at least once a week. A place mat that lies flat on a table versus a tote for your groceries.

Creative Limitations and step-by-step decisions

Playtime is a very important part of the design process – giving yourself time to explore your dreams and possibilities without any preconceptions and judgements like “I can’t”, “I don’t know” or “I haven’t got”. But at some point, you’ll want to manifest your ideas. There are so many ways of doing something, it’s easy to get confused and spend hours just on deciding what we want. Here CL’s come in as time-savers that will actually free up time for stitching – or more playtime for your next creation 🙂 Creative Limitations are also a part of the process, meaning: By making small decisions one at a time, you automatically limit or expand your choice of what else you can do. Sometimes you’ll find that the result of this step-by-step-decisions approach is quite different from what you initially thought, at other times you’ll go in circles or spirals, but on the way discovering possibilities that would never have crossed your mind if you hadn’t taken that trip – see also my previous post where I break down my usually unconscious thought process into steps that you can follow (I hope). Apart from that, you might find it helpful to add CL’s of your own to get started. You can set for yourself as many as you want, for example

  • work only with two or three colours
  • work with a limited number of fabrics
  • limit yourself to one technique
  • limit the time you want to spend on this project and choose the rest accordingly
  • sometimes patterns have a minimum or maximum size for a specific project or technique

You can modify or even delete your own limitations as you proceed when this is what your MPJF (My Personal Joy Factor) suggests – their purpose was to get you started and guide you in the direction that you’d enjoy most.

What to do with all those blocks??

In case you want to collect all your BOM’s in a single quilt, I’ll show you practical ways how to arrange and join them. You don’t even need to decide on that right away as long as you make the blocks with this aim in mind. The blocks don’t have to be all the same size or techniques or coordinated colours, but it helps when you stick to certain materials, at least for useable quilts – different materials (cotton or silk or wool – thick or thin – woven fabric or jersey) require different treatment, during the process as well as afterwards as a finished product. “Block of the Month” does not mean that the block has to become part of a quilt, though. Alternatives are for instance

  • mini (art) quilts
  • pillowcases
  • mug rugs
  • album or journal covers
  • place mats
  • totes
  • case for glasses or mobile phones

Add other pieces of fabric as required, for instance surround by wide strips in order to make a pillow, or sew onto a textile journal cover, turn it into the flap for a bag,… Adjust the size and shape of the block as adequate for the project. The further purpose/use of the item is also worth considering before starting with the design:

  • Is it going to be sat on, or does it need to be washed frequently? Employ “sturdy” materials and techniques.
  • Does something have to stand on it, like a mug or vase? Keep at least part of the area flat, that is without beads and buttons.
  • Will it be a “heavy duty” item, like a bag?

Theme for December 2014: The Gift of Your Time

or: Take your time … before someone else does – you’re worth it!

Block of the Month December 2014
Block of the Month December 2014

Download the free printable for December – 16 pages, including guidelines and many inspiring fonts

Creative Limitations for December 2014

 Integrate the words “take your time”. You find ideas for fonts in the printable.  Only textile techniques are allowed, that is sewing, quilting, embroidery, lace, crochet…  You can add buttons or beads or ribbons.  No additional painting or writing with markers.  As this month’s theme is about taking time, I suggest slow stitching = hand-stitching 😉 Have fun – and take your time! Maria Connect with me on Google+, facebook or pinterest with a photo of your project – of the process and/or finished. If you have a blog, write about your Block of the Month and link to your post in the comments. Grab this button for your blog, emails, forum posts, social media,.. to show that you’re participating:

Quilting Oneness Block of the Month
Quilting Oneness Block of the Month

Copy the code below (double-click to highlight all) and paste it where you want it. Each month the image will be updated automatically with the newest block. To adjust the width, change “200” to what suits you better.

<a href=""><img title="Quilting Oneness - Block of the Month" alt="Quilting Oneness - Block of the Month" border="0" img="" src="" width="200" /></a>

You can also find the content of this page and all themes as they come on the Block of the Month Overview.


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