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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Making the Checks and Balances quilt your own

Pictured above is the original Checks and Balances quilt. I don't know what it is about this pattern but for me it inspires play – I'm constantly coming up with new options for it.

I think I've made five or six versions now and I decided that instead of continuing to make them myself, I'd show you the ideas, so you can use them with the pattern as the basis for your own quilts and I can get on to other designs!

The original Checks and Balances works in vertical columns of colour that are randomly placed across the quilt. In 'I would be art', pictured below, there are two columns of blocks that change colour along the vertical. These columns are then repeated across the quilt. This variation is my Bauhaus version of the pattern, as it was inspired by the women weavers of the Bauhaus movement, specifically Benita Koch-Otte.
One version I've been playing around with uses a solid paired with an ombré panel, in this case Jennifer Sampou's Sky range, in Spa, Blush and Opal colourways.  You could simplify it even further by just using one ombré panel. I think a version like this would make a really lovely baby quilt.
Next is a colour block version mocked up in a variety of solids. I suspect I won't be able to stop myself from making a colour block Checks and Balances at some point. This mockup is really a wall-hanging size, but by adding a few extra columns and rows it would make a great single/twin bed quilt for a bright hit of colour in a kid's bedroom.
I was imagining this next one with the blue rectangles done in denim. I've seen a few quilts similar to this variation on Pinterest, but I thought I'd include it anyway. All the pieced blocks in this one have a red centre and the outside rectangles are improv strips of colour. I could imagine that even selvedge strips might work here.
My last mockup is done with Kaffe Fassett caterpillar and multi stripes paired with pieced blocks of shot cotton. Again, I suspect I might get around to making something like this one day... I just love the movement of colour up and down the columns in this one.
The last quilt pictured here is the simplest version of all, and it's the variation included in the pattern instructions, along with details for both quilt yardage and making with upcycled shirts.
When designing quilts I always ask 'what if?'. What if I tried the colour moving across the quilt rather than down? What if I made the fabric a solid instead of a stripe? What if I changed the order of some of the blocks. This is the kind of process I'm incorporating into the quilt design course I'm developing. If you're keen to hear more detail, sign up to my email newsletter at the top of the page.

Note that I've not done any of the yardage measurements for the mockup quilts (nor will I be, unless I make them myself), but they wouldn't be too difficult to figure out using the pattern as it stands.

OK, now that these are out in the world, I'm hoping they stop nagging at me so much to be made and I can move onto other quilt pattern ideas!


  1. I think doing up the mock ups and putting it out for others to explore was an excellent way to round out this chapter of designing. Best wishes for your future creative explorations!❤️

    1. Thanks Marla! Yes, that was the hope ;-) I may still come back to a couple, but it's a bit of a relief to be able to move onto something new for now.