Designing to Avoid Intersecting Seams

My friend Chela asked about designing to avoid intersecting seams.  The goal is to make a quilt less “fussy” to construct. Here are 3 ways to do that. Thanks for the idea, Chela!

One of the easiest ways to avoid intersecting seams is to move alternate rows over 1/2 block. This can create interesting designs that you wouldn’t have suspected if you hadn’t tried it!

My most recent example is a quilt I designed for Studio Stitch:

Lightening. Read about it in last week’s post if you like.

Of course, many traditional patterns depend on the blocks lining up exactly to create visual interest.  They might not benefit from shifting half a block!  Just look at this:

Another favorite way to avoid obvious intersections is to partially frame blocks so that they appear offset. The intersections get lost in the background and the design is much more interesting. One of my favorite examples of this is the BQ2 pattern by Maple Island Quilts. 

I taught a class with this pattern and called it “Easier Than It Looks” because it is! The design looks complex but in reality it is just a matter of framing and rotating blocks. Here’s the quilt I made as a sample for the class:

Another example of partially framed blocks is my recent “Little Jewels” quilt:

And good news!  I tracked down the origin of this design and you can find instructions for it free on this website.

Here is an example of one block.

The “trick” is that each block is framed on two sides, making it asymmetrical.  Then alternate blocks are rotated 180 degrees so that any sense of quilt rows is lost!  Make a couple of scrap blocks and try it–it’s magic!  In truth, there are the usual intersections between blocks but the corners are almost impossible to see 😀

Finally, making blocks of different sizes certainly can be used to avoid intersecting seams. I consider this a design-as-you-go process and it does take both time and confidence, but it works well.  Here is one I made ages ago:

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.  Finished size 12″ x 12″

And here are some recent blocks up on the design wall to test a potential background fabric:

These blocks are all the same size (will finish 6″) but the sashing will be variable.  I’m setting them in vertical rows with variable distances between the rows, and variable distances between the blocks within each row!  No way will there be anything to line up 😀

Have a good week and share any tricks you have to avoid fussy intersections!

11 thoughts on “Designing to Avoid Intersecting Seams

  1. Thanks for this post. I have spent too much time figuring out fussy intersections, and this post will definitely help my future endeavors. I once made a different sized block quilt for my grandson. As you said, it was a design as you go. It was challenging but I found it is one of my favorite quilts.

  2. That house quilt is so cute!!

    When I saw your post title in my inbox, it only showed the first few words — “Designing to Avoid…” and I was finishing the sentence in my mind — to avoid housework, to avoid doing the taxes, to avoid weeding the yard….Maybe I was projecting a little bit??

  3. “No intersections” is always great for a new quiltmaker, and sometimes, even us seasoned makers appreciate a “no pinning needed” make. I guess I’ve been quiltmaking for so long now that I don’t even consider whether matching seams are needed or not. I just do. And I like it.

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