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Quilting Design Boards

by Nikki Willhite

Quilting Design Board

Quilting Design Boards

Design boards are used by quilters to help with fabric placement. Design  boards allow you to audition fabrics for piecing before you begin cutting and sewing. After your pieces are cut you can then put them on the board and step back to make sure they work well together.

It can be difficult to see what your quilt will look like unless you step away from it. This article on Scrappy Quilting has a picture of fabric taken with a scanner that illustrates how difficult it is to see value. Value is one of the most important elements of every quilt.

Pictured above is the design board I am using for my flying geese table runner. It is a simple project, just squares and flying geese patches. Yet I must be careful that the fabrics are well balanced. The design board lets me move the squares around until I am happy with them before I sew them together.

When I started making my current project I made a few flying geese quilt blocks that did not have enough contrast. Below is a picture of one of those blocks. I thought there would be enough contrast, but in comparison with my other fabric choices, these initial blocks just didnít work. The one on the left (gold geese) is fine.  However, the one on the right (beige background) does not have enough contrast. When you stand back from it you cannot see the geese.  The fabrics just blend together.

It wasnít until I had started using the design board that I realized this was going to be a problem. You can use a lot of different fabrics in a very scrappy quilt, and they usually go together. Value is not as forgiving.

 

flying geese quilt blocks

I will go on to use my design board to audition fabrics for borders and binding. In a few days I will pull out a few fabrics and hang them over the top of the board and view them a few days before making my decision.

Design boards are also be useful to make sure you sew your rows together correctly and avoid errors.  However, even that is not foolproof. Lots of things can happen between the design board and the sewing machine!

My design board is just a piece of wood covered with felt.  You can also use the flannel back of a large picnic tablecloth for a portable design board. Design boards can be fun.  Don't over look this important piecing tool.

 

 

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