be different
[ Quilt Along/BOM ][ Quilt Design ]

3 Reasons to Stretch Your Quilt Blocks

I challenged myself with the Little Bit Different block-of-the-month program which features 6″ x 9″ blocks. I found some tremendous benefits by changing from squares to rectangles. Here are my top three reasons to stretch your quilt blocks.

Different is Good!

It’s okay to be different. Maybe it comes from growing up as a red-head or the girl with the boy-ish name, but I always like to start with the same ideas as the group then put my own unique spin on things.

be different

Last fall, there was alot of talk about Block of the Month quilt designs for 2023. Ocean themes, garden motifs and stars are all popular choices, but I decided to focus on rectangular quilt blocks, specifically 6 inch by 9inch blocks. There is a risk of being the Lone Ranger when you try something different, but I trust there are plenty of adventurous quilters who want to see what happens when we change the rules just a tiny bit. And if you are one of those adventurous quilters, I invite you to join the Little Bit Different BOM and stretch your quilt blocks too!

A Little Bit Different 2023 BOM

Do the math

Looking at a rectangle versus a square will make you keenly aware of some basic mathematical concepts that you probably haven’t thought about since high school geometry!

Knowing Geometry really comes in handy during PARALLELOGRAM season!

The first math question we face is how many blocks to make a quilt, and for that we refer to our multiplication tables. If we start with a 6-inch block, we can multiply by 6 to get to 36” wide. That’s a little small, so we either need more blocks or additional sashing and borders. Another mathematical concept that rectangular blocks introduce is proportions. With Square blocks, everything is equal and divides nicely. With the 6×9 size, equal spacing means you are working with 2×3 units, which can lead to other dilemmas such as the best method to construct HRTs or flying geese units from non-standard dimensions.

rectangular version of the classic Friendship Star pattern

Nothing too difficult, just an opportunity to develop new skills! 

More Creativity

The third reason to stretch your quilt blocks is that it gets your creative juices flowing. Deciding on the parameters of 6×9 quilt blocks took me down a rabbit hole as I started to adapt some of my favorite quilt blocks to a new size. The old campfire song comes to mind – it only takes a spark, to get the fire going… That’s why I love design challenges and creative prompts so much. My mind literally races in a dozen directions and each design branches off into three other possibilities. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to sketch out the 12 designs for the Little Bit Different BOM and think of alternative layouts for the blocks as well. It is such a good stimulus for our brains to be active in creative pursuits, so I encourage you to challenge yourself with your next quilt project.

Have you made any of the 6″x9″ blocks from the Little Bit Different block of the month? Tell me your color scheme in the comments!

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Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher


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