5 GREAT REASONS TO MAKE A TEST BLOCK
How to make better quilts? By adding one step to your quilting process, your quilts will always turn out better.
Make a test block.
Every quilter wants to know how to make better quilts. The secret is troubleshooting now, before there’s trouble later.
Block troubles discovered later are stressful, gobble up time and waste fabric.
Here’s the rub though. I’m always itching to get started. SO EXCITED! A new quilt!
When I’ve gotten caught up in the frenzy of starting, I became blind to possible problems. Quilty denial moves into the sewing room while we cut the fabric. All of it.
Such a cool design, whispers Denial. Seriously, what could go wrong?
Plus the domino effect. Multiplied by the number of blocks. Eeeek!
I carry my hard earned test block lesson into all my projects now, including the Hexy Plus pattern.
How to Make better quilts, Guaranteed.
I’m not throwing a wet blanket on enthusiasm – more like a big thumbs up for adding one step to guarantee a better quilt. If you want to know how to make better quilts (Amen, yes, please!) make test blocks. They will teach us everything we need to know!
While it can feel like a hassle, less haste equals less waste.
Here are 5 great reasons to make better quilts by adding one important step:
- Test before committing. Test blocks are the best way to try out a pattern without committing to an entire quilt. When I’m using someone else’s pattern, understanding the directions is key. When I’ve designed the pattern, I’ve found out (many times) it’s absolutely crucial to make a test block. And I don’t want to mess with your quilt with my pattern! Gulp.
- Getting outta my head: I audition fabrics to see what’s a match versus what looked good in my head (everything looks amazing in my head). This is more than a fabric pull – I cut the pieces and sew them together. Nothing beats seeing the actual fabrics playing together, or not.
- Sew it like you mean it: Do exactly the same things you’ll do when you quilt a “real” block – starch, press, sewing accurate seam allowances, matching seams and trimming. If I rush through a test block, I shouldn’t bother in the first place. Same = same.
- Scouting out challenges: When I’ve made a block from start to finish, I’ve experienced the trouble spots in the real world, not the digital, paper or imagination worlds.
- Do it this-a-way or that-a-way: There’s usually more than one way to piece a block – choose the best way by constructing blocks based on the designer’s directions and your experience.
Does this work?
Every single time.
HEXY PLUS: real-world test Blocks
I’ll show you what happened with Hexy Plus quilt below. I owe my test blocks everything!
The test blocks pictured here are from my Hexy Plus quilt pattern.
My “real” blocks quickly became a second round of test blocks. Can you see my error yet? This is a classic example of why I make test blocks!
So, yes, the error was how I lined up my cutting template with my block. I lined up the plus sign the wrong way and ended up with a slightly tilted plus sign. Whoops.
Here’s the correct version…
And here’s the incorrect version…
Test blocks reveal important cutting and construction details.
And all that time while I was making my “real” blocks, I wondered why I was missing a bit of fabric! Mistakes are such great teaching tools.
Or should I call them re-takes, not mistakes?!
Could adding test blocks make better quilts for you?
Let me know in the comments below. We’re so much better together so tell me what works for you when you make test blocks.