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Tweaking Tradition a Block at a Time


Stack of blocks

Squaring up blocks

Barbara Brackman's Block of the Week, Grandmothers' Choice

Barbara Brackman’s Block of the Week, Grandmothers’ Choice


Round 1 – For my experimental blocks, I wanted the designs to vary enough to give me room to “play” a bit differently with each of them. I chose three blocks to work with.

1. Jack’s Delight    2. Ladies Wreath    3. Everybody’s Favorite 


How would you reinterpret these?


Round 2 –  I stayed pretty true to the original design in this round. I decided to replace the fabrics with more contemporary patterns and colors.


BOW Design work

I love the horizontal star that emerged on this. The prominent background is not thrilling me, though. Hmmmm. Maybe tone that down a bit?


Now this is fun! There is a simpleness to the design, even if it is a bunch of tiny half-square triangles! Could it be even more minimal?


Okay, that’s just darn cute! Set this idea aside for a baby quilt in the future!


Round One

Round Two

Well, that’s a considerable change, now isn’t it? Where do I go from here?


Round 3 – Now was my chance to get really creative. I further minimalized the designs by using more solids and fewer prints. Adding a white background seems to make the design float inside my blocks. On each of these, I tried something different, being reflective of things I like in the Modern Quilt style.


I used free-form strip piecing to replace the fussy-cut center block. I like the way this becomes even more extreme with the horizontal star.  I would love to see what this looks like alternating one block horizontally, then one vertically.


Note to self: When doing a free-form strip set, then slashing, and sewing it back together, it might be best not to do teeny-weeny half square triangles. There’s a lot of bulk in those seams . . . but I do love the whimsical look. It makes me want a Jolly Rancher!


For the last block, I went over the top. I free-form strip pieced the border, fussy-cut the centers out of a giant polka-dot print to make them petal-like, and then I went crazy with some embroidery stitching and colorful threads. The verdict is still out on this one, but it was fun playing!


Round Three

Hard to believe that they are the same blocks!



Experimental Blocks

Do you have a favorite?


For more information on Barbara Brackman, check out her other fabulous blogs, Material Culture, and my new latest favorite Historically Modern Quilts, Textiles and Designs. You are sure to learn something in every read!


Signature Cropped

#blockoftheweek #BarbaraBrackman #inspiration #CivilWarfabrics #Modernquiltstyle

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