Selecting a block of the month quilt is fun, and well, overwhelming. With so many choices for block of the month programs, where do you start? You could start with a quilt pattern you’re gushing over. But lemme tell ya – that’s just the start. And yeah, loving the quilt already is a great first step.
How much time do you have to sew? What are your quilting goals and skills to learn? Want to reach for more complexity? What is your budget? Source your own fabrics or buy a quilt kit? What kind of flexibility and support do you want?
See? So many choices! In this blog, I’ll share what to consider when selecting block of the month quilt programs.
What is a block of the month quilt program?
A block of the month (also known as a BOM) program offers a monthly quilt block with instructions that becomes part of a finished quilt by the end of the program.
Block of the month programs offer many benefits for members:
- Monthly structure with paced lessons
- Learn new techniques for piecing quilt blocks
- Practice skills
- Finish a quilt at a reasonable pace
- Professional instructions, tips and tutorials
- Access to designer quilt patterns, an additional month project and freebies
- Opportunity to be part of a member community to share progress, seek advice and celebrate accomplishments
- Ongoing fun, creative inspiration
- Motivation to learn new skills
- Be a part of a club and make new friends
In addition, some programs offer members access to an extensive library of quilt patterns, past block of the month quilts, quilt blocks, tutorials and skill-builder projects.
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at what you need to consider:
- Program structure and flexibility
- Time commitment
- Quilt kits
- Quilt Blocks: Types, Construction, Complexity and Skill Levels
- Instructional formats
- Types of quilt block piecing methods
- Price and value
Program Structure and Flexibility
What kind of quilt maker are you?
Do you need a hard deadline to get it done? Or do you juggle several projects a month for fun? Like to focus on one quilt or have many choices within the program? Add creative changes to the design, colors or fabrics?
Quilting with a hard-deadline adds stress, but a good kind of stress. Some people thrive on having a start and end date, which is motivating for a quilter with many a project.
UPSIDE: They benefit from a more structured program with time-limited access where everyone share a timeline, makes the same quilt in the same quilty boat.
DOWNSIDE: If you fall behind (life happens) you may miss out on the support and camaraderie you need to finish on your own.
Keep-on-juggling quilters like (love) flexibility – they thrill on new projects and boredom-busting tactics like changing projects mid-stream. There’s more fish to quilt over yonder!
UPSIDE: They benefit from programs that offer lifetime access and can easily start, pause or cancel a club membership. Managing a quilt project at their own pace is their happy place.
DOWNSIDE: Unfinished quilts. And that’s probably okay with them until they run out of room!
Craving-to-Create Quilt Block Makers
Scenario: You like the block of the month quilt and want to commit buuuuut you prefer different colors or sizes, or even layouts.
If this is YOU most of the time and want to make it your way, check on options for the finished size and alternate colorways. Ask the instructor or organizer before you commit. After all, it’s your time, effort and vision.
Quilters like sewing and quilting together and a BOM program is a dream scenario. They have different skills and experiences to share and join together on a mission – make quilt blocks, one block at a time, into a beautiful quilts.
Members contribute, celebrate, cheer others on and offer helpful tips. I always say “we are better together” to my block of the month club members.
Is there nothing as exciting about a new notion or fabrics recommended by another quilter? Need to source a new sewing machine purchase? Your fellow members KNOW THESE THINGS!
Members collectively have thousands of years experience, one block at a time. Does the program offer several ways to ask questions? Check out how questions are handled in the club or program.
My Modern Triangle BOM quilts are a 4-hour commitment each month – about an hour per week – because we sew freezer paper foundation block sets of each block versus one quilt block per month in a sampler quilt.
I’ve hosted many BOM programs and quilt-a-longs (QAL) with my modern triangle quilt blocks. We’ve found that our block of the month club members are more motivated when the focus is on making progress and going at their own pace – not the number of completed blocks or getting “behind”.
To be clear, some blocks take longer than others and some people complete their block faster and can’t wait for the next exciting month of blocks. Going at your own pace keeps the sewing enjoyable until you have a completed quilt.
Life happens (I have four kids…) so finishing a quilt isn’t guaranteed in a certain year – that’s true for many of our members. We’re learning together and hopefully, enjoying the process. Having a beautiful quilt after 10, 12 (or 24) months is a BIG BONUS.
Quilt Block Kit or No Kit?
Another important factor to consider is whether you want to buy block of the month quilt kits or choose your own colors and fabrics. If you like the quilt pattern sample as is, a quilt kit is just so easy. Online retailers and quilt shops often offer a kit quilt, sometimes in several color palettes.
A quilt kit is easier when you’re short on time. If you have even LESS time, some BOM programs offer laser cut or machine cut fabric in their kits, but you may pay more for the convenience. Laser cut pieces are really nice though!
Quality matters. Your quilt project’s success depends heavily on the fabric. Before you buy, make sure it contains quality fabric and notions.
If you don’t live close to quilt shop, feel comfortable purchasing fabrics without touching them (!) or like coordinating fabrics, try block of the month kits before you hunt down and purchase fabric. Each quilt kit is different. Some include matching thread and backing fabric, but most don’t. See the Instructional Formats section below for more information.
Quilt Blocks: Types, Construction, Complexity and Skill Levels
How many ways are there to piece quilt blocks, backgrounds and borders? So many. Quilt block piecing and finishing methods include:
- Straight quarter inch seam piecing
- Foundation – freezer paper and paper piecing methods
- Templates or common shapes
- Fused and glued
And there are many ways to quilt a finished block or add flair:
- Crazy quilting stitching
- Hand stitching or machine stitching
- Thread painting, embroidery, piping, unique binding and pieced borders
First, a block of the month quilt is usually assigned a skill level, starting with Beginner or Confident Beginner through Advanced Quilter. See this handy chart from quilting professional Jan Krentz to determine your skill level. See at a glance where you are and what to learn next.
A BOM program is more than a pretty block, fabric or quilt. It’s easy to get excited about designs, especially complex ones. Eventually, we’d like a completed quilt! Get the details upfront about piecing, quilting, number of blocks, and finishing, which could prevent the “Did I really sign up for this?” blues later.
- If you’ve tried techniques but haven’t cinched them yet, pick block of the month quilts that emphasize those techniques and helps you practice.
- Make sure there is enough variety in the blocks to boost your skills and grow.
- Use a block of the month club to get out of a rut with a challenge.
How do you learn best? In-person, virtual sessions or recorded video sessions? There are formats for everyone and everywhere: you can join a block of the month program through quilt guilds, local and online quilts shops, quilting education companies and even museums. The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky has their own programs.
There are two common formats to make your quilt block each month:
- Time-limited one-and-done quilt BOM – which may or not have a fee – anywhere from 4 to 10 months. A one quilt block of the month club will typically offer instructions, promote specific fabric collections and sell block of the month quilt kits. Community support is usually part of the month club.
- Subscription-based program – which usually has a monthly fee – offers ongoing BOM programs in real-time or through a pattern library with instructional videos. The price is usually more because you get more.Subscription block of the month programs may include workbooks, coloring pages, detailed instructions on making the blocks and techniques, pattern blocks, multiple sizes, templates, foundations, on-demand instructional videos, access to a virtual community and support. Or what I like to call the Goodies! And it’s all organized for you.
- Try out a class with the designer or instructor. I offer a free modern triangle block class so prospective members can test drive the program.
- Clear, concise communication is key. Does the instructor explain techniques in more than one way?
- Are the videos recorded in a well-lit space? Can you see the demos and details?
- Pick one with a format that fits how like to learn.
- Offers written downloadable instructions, templates and foundations with detailed explanations.
- Virtual on-demand video courses let you watch and re-watch at your convenience.
- Determine how long you have access to the materials.
- Get support early on if you can’t login to online content or programs.
- Join a quilt guild that offers an annual BOM program, online or in-person.
- Check out the cancellation policy in paid programs just in case it’s not the right one for you.
- Price and Value
Price and Value
Making a BOM quilt offers more value than the price of a quilt pattern. That’s the main appeal. I add as much value as possible – value meaning what it’s worth to you.
Let’s compare block of the month programs for price and value:
- Quilt guild – Price: Practically free (annual dues).
- A committee plans the BOM quilt and organizes the block of the month program. Monthly instructions for completing are included. All in all, a great value for a one-and-done.
- Local quilt shops: Price: Free with BOM kit pruchase or $10 per month in addition to fabric.
- Shops include in-person instruction. And you can join up with local quilt buddies.
- Quilt pattern designers: Free, $12 for pattern purchase or $5 to $10 monthly
- They offer their beautiful quilt pattern designs in their niche – like traditional, modern, seasonal and mystery – in a monthly installments through live, social media, blogs and recorded sessions.
- BOM online education club: Price – $10 to $30 monthly
- My BOM club is the main thing. Club members get the entire program: the current BOM club offering and all past block of the month quilts plus skill builder courses, seasonal projects and block design and color courses. My support staff gives me time to focus on creating more for members, which is what I love to do!
- Online only fabric retailers: Price: $15 – $35 per month.
- Many offer block of the month programs with their own twists. Missouri Star Quilt Company has a monthly price tag ($28.95) which includes fabric, instructions and shipping for different styles and themes.
- Quilting magazines: Price: $8 -$25 per issue.
- Quiltmania, American Patchwork and Quilting and others offer an annual BOM across several issues. The guest designer provides the patterns and instructions. There can be additional online support.
Ready to make a BOM quilt?
I hope this information helps you find a great fit with a block of the month program.
BY THE WAY, You can JOIN AURORA BOM any time!
Introducing the Aurora Block of the Month, an all NEW design for 2024! Colors and shpes create beautiful symmetry in this modern triangle quilt design.