Quilter’s Quick Study: Combining Quilt Blocks in Unexpected Ways


Climbing Vine, Designed by Kathy Sawyer,
Quick Quilts, August/September 2018

Don’t be shy! Innovate to create! You too can be a quilt designer. It’s great fun to experiment by taking some of your favorite block designs to put them together into a quilt. You might be surprised with the results of combining blocks in unexpected ways. Climbing Vine, one of the designs featured in the August/September 2018 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts, is an excellent example of how one can combine different blocks in one quilt to create a dynamic, unexpected composition. Despite the different looks of each of the blocks, they work together specifically because they all use the same prints and colors. Another visual trick that designer Kathy Sawyer used was to stagger the vertical row of blocks so that half-blocks are used in the top and bottom of some rows, further disguising each individual block to create a continuous flow of color and print. Take a closer look at the photo of the quilt top below. Can you tell where one block ends and another begins?

Four different block sizes, combined in unexpected ways

Four different block sizes, combined in unexpected ways

Give this idea a try…

It can be tricky to combine blocks that are different sizes, as in this case where 4 different block sizes join to create a very unique quilt. It’s much simpler to combine blocks of the same size. Common block sizes like 8˝, 10˝ and 12˝ are a great option to start with, so you might try selecting a few different favorite patterns to combine. A blend of techniques, like using strip pieced blocks with Flying Geese blocks, or different blocks combining large and small-scale patches, can be a nice contrast that creates an interesting effect, especially if the different blocks are made in similar colors and prints. It’s a nice way to challenge your creative muscles and try something a little different than recreating a pattern as printed.


Climbing Vine is the perfect pattern to play with combining quilt blocks in different ways. Use your design wall or other flat surface to try out a different lay out with the blocks. You’ll be surprised and pleased with the different quilts you can make with one pattern.

Look for more new quick quilt designs in the 2018 August/September issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. It’s our back-to-school issue with 10 patterns and some special how-tos. You can download the issue here.

Comments (2)

  • Jeanne F

    I want to download the climbing vine but am unable to. I already paid for it.

    August 1, 2018 at 6:27 pm

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