Struggling to figure out what to sew next? Instead of choosing a regular quilt pattern for your next quilt top think about making a sampler quilt instead!
What Is A Sampler Quilt
In a sampler quilt, each block is a different design often featuring a different sewing technique. One block may be made with applique, while another is all half-square triangles. Once all of the blocks are made you lay them out in a design that you like, add sashing (if you want) and then sew the quilt top together! Typically a sampler quilt doesn’t have any repeating blocks, and each block is a unique pattern. Sampler quilts are often laid out on a grid with 3×3 and 3×4 being popular choices, but there’s no limit to the different layouts that can be used.
Why You Should Make a Sampler Quilt
Sampler quilts can be a great choice for a quilter at any stage in her sewing journey, from beginner to expert! There are lots of reasons that a sampler quilt might be the right choice for your next project.
- Each block is different, so you won’t get bored! The entire point of a sampler quilt is to “sample” lots of different types of blocks. While sampler quilt blocks are usually the same size to make it easier to sew them all together, each block is unique unto itself.
- You can try a new skill or technique without committing to an entire quilt. Sampler quilts are great because they provide a non-intimidating way to try a new technique. For example, if you’ve always wanted to try applique but aren’t sure if you like it, a sampler quilt allows you to make a single applique block. Or you could make multiple blocks using different types of applique techniques! You’ll learn a new skill but not feel overwhelmed or that you have to make a commitment to something you’re not quite sure about.
- Your sampler quilt top will be completely unique. Unless you’re sewing from a kit, sampler quilts will allow you to pick and choose from different block designs, layouts, and fabrics. The end result will be a quilt top that is totally original and a one-of-a-kind finish.
- Sampler quilts allow you to master a variety of fundamental sewing skills. Perhaps you’ve wanted to truly master a foundational technique, such as half square triangles, but you didn’t want to make a whole quilt. You can use basic quilting techniques while assembling the blocks in different ways. You’ll get the practice of making plenty of half square triangles, but you’ll assemble them differently for each individual block. This will keep you from getting bored, while still growing your skill set.
- You can design the quilt top you want using only blocks that speak to you. Want to make a quilt top with different applique blocks? Great! You can choose to make blocks that all use applique. Sampler quilts let you prioritize the design by picking only the blocks that you want to make.
Quilting Sampler Pattern Round-up
Many quilters love to pick their sampler quilt patterns from traditional quilt blocks, but others will follow along with a set sampler pattern. Here are a few resources to both quilt blocks and stand-alone samplers to help you create the sampler quilt that’s right for you!
Quilt Block Books – Pick from lots of individual block patterns to design your own sampler quilt
- The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns: 4050 Pieced Blocks for Quilters by Jenny Beyer
- Quilt Builder Card Deck: 40 Block, 6 Layouts, Endless Possibilities by C&T Publishing
- Quiltmaker’s 1,000 Blocks: A Collection of Quilt Blocks from Today’s Top Designers by Quiltmaker
- Hand-Stitched Quilts: Choose from 27 block designs and hand-piece your own unique quilts by Carolyn Forster
- Quilt Block Genius, Expanded Second Edition: Over 300 Pieced Quilt Blocks to Make 1001 Blocks with No Math Charts by Sue Voegtlin
- The Splendid Sampler: 100 Spectacular Blocks from a Community of Quilters by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson
Quilt Sampler Books – Follow a sampler pattern
- The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired by Laurie Aaron Hird
- Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt by Brenda Manges Papadakis
- Harriet’s Journey from Elm Creek Quilts: 100 Sampler Blocks Inspired by the Best-Selling Novel Circle of Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini (author of the Elm Creek Quilt quilting fiction series)
- The Vintage Flower Sampler Quilt: A Step-By-Step Guide To Sewing A Stunning Quilt & Fresh Projects by Atsuko Matsuyama
Give It a Try!
Ready to dive into your first sampler quilt? First, decide if you’re going to pick your own blocks or follow a set sampler pattern. Then choose your blocks (if needed), pull your fabric and start sewing! Let us know below what sampler quilt you’re going to work on first!
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