Let’s Plan Block Lotto 2015

Posted by on September 9, 2014 in block lotto community, Linky Party | 27 comments

BlockLottoBadgeThis is the time of year when I start thinking about what will we do NEXT year and I would love some input from you.

Earlier this year, I asked for some input on colors and I hope you’ve noticed some of your suggestions in the blocks this year.   But before I start thinking about color, I start with the block patterns themselves.  I think about block sizes and overall themes for the year.

A lot of my block ideas start with a, “What if …” or  “Can I …?” questions. This year, it was, What if we made blocks in an uncommon size (7 inches and multiples of 7 inches)? And Can I create block patterns for that unusual size?   I also wondered, can I design blocks which would have a Modern Quilting feeling … and design a “Modern quilt?”

I think about things we haven’t tried … yet, like:

  • English Paper Piecing
  • Redwork or other embroidery
  • Raw edge, fused appliqué

And wonder if there’s enough interest in trying these or something else completely different?

I ask myself, “Should we do more …” of a specific theme (liberated blocks, traditional blocks, modern blocks) or of a specific size–though the headache of mailing large 14 inch blocks earlier this year makes me think that they are generally a bad idea, even though there are some great large size blocks we could make.

In the past, the message I’ve heard is that you want all the blocks during the year to be the same size.  I wonder if that’s still the case and–as much as I am enjoying the process of designing and making the Mod-Mod Sampler quilt, if designing a quilt for the blocks is interesting to you?

I worry that the Block Lotto has/may become stuck in a rut of my personal taste? This month’s red background is one example, too much use of other specific colors or black & white prints might be another.

I often think about a year of some of the most popular blocks we’ve made in the past–after a dozen years, there’s quite a list to choose from–but then dismiss the idea because there’s something new that I think we need to make …

That’s what’s bouncing around in my head … I would love to hear about your ideas.  You can blog about the Block Lotto and join the linky list below OR just leave a comment.   Tell me what you like or don’t like about the Block Lotto, or would like to see in the future. It can be about colors, size, style, technique, themes and quilt designs using the blocks.

As the fictional Frazier Crane used to say on his Seattle radio show, “I’m listening.”


  1. So I will give this a try.. Red work does nothing for me. Don’t care about block size. did like the variety this year. I am liking row by row designs lately and am interested in Southwest designs and colors for one. Recently saw a quilt made with a varied of border designs as a way of trying different borders. Applique is a challenge for me

    Good luck with your planning… You have done great during my one year with Block Lotto

  2. I’ve been actively “lurking” and even cutting but not sewing so much this year due to work demands, so haven’t been a very active participant, but hope to return this month (I’ve got the paper pattern printed out and have my red fabric prewashed!)
    I like challenges, and I like the blocks being the same size (or multiples).
    i’ve been doing some fabric swaps of 2.5, 5 and 10 inch squares, so patterns that incorporated precut sizes could be interesting, as some of us collect charms, jelly rolls and layer cakes and then don’t know what to do with them.
    (This month’s Moda blog hop has a single pattern in 3 sizes showcasing different fabric lines.)

    I also have liked some of the blocks that create an overall quilt pattern (like the Irish chains, etc.),

    And I have been a reluctant user of browns or tans, so maybe I need to be nudged toward the civial war color palette as a learning experience!
    I also have not used orientals so something to play with that could be interesting.

    The dallas guild theme for the show this year is “funny” quilts, if that offers any inspiration.
    Maybe some log cabin variation.

  3. Sophie, I’ve been in the Lotto for a few years now. I think you’ve done great. If a block interests me, I play. And if not, I don’t. Or if I have too much on my plate, which has been the case lately, I don’t. Keep up the good work.

  4. I also dont like red work, but I do love to do fusible applique. I also like scrappy quilts or the new thing out using crumbs. Block size makes no difference to me. Maybe even picking a theme for the whole year like each month be a holiday, or maybe follow the seasons of the year to get inspiration. Since I’ve only been doing this for a few months now I have enjoyed the blocks so far. Some are easy while others challenge me, which I like so I can get out of my comfort zone and do something different. Doing a row by row design sounds very interesting. Of course my favorite thing to do is use oriental fabric and designs which I don’t see done much anymore. I also love the civil war quilt palettes. Just more ideas to throw out there.

  5. I don’t really care about a particular theme (I actually think modern and traditional are the same but liberated doesn’t liberate me…I find liberated more difficult than traditional/modern) , colors (if it’s in a crayon box it’s in my stash) or size (depends upon ratio of pieces to size) . I don’t need to have same sized blocks each month. In fact, I kind of have grown to like some “column quilts” vs “row quilts” where the block sizes are a little different. I like a challenge or a nudge to try something different. I like that you designed the MOD MOD sampler because I made a commitment to myself to follow through on it to the end. That commitment has forced me to at least try each block instead of making excuses to myself that it looked too difficult, I was too tired, too busy, wasn’t my style, wasn’t a favorite technique, etc.

    I like the surprise factor each month brings in regard to block and winners.

    I sincerely appreciate the work and time you put into Block Lotto and am glad to see you are looking forward to another year!

    To summarize…I guess I could have just said, for me, anything goes!

  6. I’ve been more of a lurker than a sewer this year due to time demands but hope to start participating more. I’m not a big fan of redwork or applique of any kind. I love English Paper Piecing but would find it hard to participate in on a regular basis since wrist issues limit my ability to hand sew for any length of time without severe pain.

    Like Linda, I’ve been “collecting” precuts and would love to see some blocks that take advantage of them. I also really like blocks that make an overall pattern like the Irish Chain, Storm at Sea, or Jewel Box. They can get kind of repetitive if you are trying to make a quilt on your own, so to me at least, they seem like perfect candidates for Block Lotto. I don’t have a preference of Modern vs. Traditional as I think most blocks can go either way depending on fabric choices. I don’t care for Liberated blocks at all. They stress me out and the finished product doesn’t do anything for me.

    As far as colors go, I love scrappy quilts and am sure we could all use some blocks to clear out our scrap bins a bit. Bonnie Hunter has some lovely examples (and free patterns) over at Quiltville. I think a block in all solids might be fun too. I like the idea of a seasonally themed block but would prefer to avoid holiday themed blocks as that tends to limit the length of time you can use/display the resulting quilt. For example, a snowflake block or a log cabin block in winter inspired colors would make a quilt that would be seasonally appropriate for months, where as a quilt made from a Christmas ornament block would only see use for a few weeks each year.

    I don’t have a preference as to what size block we make or if we do the same size each time. Keeping them to an easily mailed size is always a good thing in my book though. 🙂

  7. I’m sorry to see that there aren’t any positive comments on Redwork or embroidery. I love having something that I can do by hand. EPP is also fun for me. I don’t care for raw edge applique. I agree with someone above that said traditional/modern are about the same. I think it just matters what fabrics and colors you put together that gives it a more modern feel versus the traditional. I”m also not a fan of “low volume” type blocks/quilts. In fact, I .HATE that term. And liberated? Meh. I’ve played with it and find I like the more traditional methods of block construction.

    I don’t buy pre-cuts (although I’m sometimes tempted!) and I see patterns requiring pre-cuts and then doing the fabric requirements for other than pre-cuts as putting alot of extra work on you.

    Scrappy, always scrappy! The fun is in seeing all the combinations of colors. And I feel secondary patterns make a scrappy quilt a little more controlled.

    I’ve not made suggestions, just given input. I hope it helps. You do a fabulous job and I admire how you have dedicated yourself to Block Lotto for all these years.

  8. Linda and Melissa pretty much spoke for me 🙂 While I am not a charm-pack-aholic, doing something with 5″ charms is very attractive. Making one, four or nine blocks wouldn’t really require much more if any additional cutting if one didn’t have a charm pack on hand. I have long been a fan of Pat Speth’s Nickel Quilts and Bonnie Hunter’s patterns – I love the scrappy look – BUT I have attempted very few because of the sheer repetition required to get that amazing overall look. The possibility of winning ten or twenty blocks that don’t all contain MY scraps is an exciting way to jump-start a busy, scrappy quilt of substance.

    Oh, and I’m fine with redwork, I’ve never done EPP, and I am a fusible applique-ing fool.

  9. Hey Toni, if you’re looking for handwork I’m sure I can come up with a few bindings that need to be sewn down! 😉

    • I love hand sewing too. Somehow I always end up sewing the bindings on my moms quilts.

  10. I’m almost reluctant to leave a comment expressing preferences, because for me, one of the things that I like best about the lotto is that it often isn’t the blocks I’d pick for myself! If I make lots of suggestions, and they are taken up, then they might be similar to the blocks I would choose for myself 🙂

    Seriously, though, I haven’t taken advantage of the blocks being the same (or compatible) sizes recently, but I do like that constant, just in case I wanted to do e.g. a year of blue blocks as a sampler. I haven’t played with the mod mod quilt along, though I’ve considered it. I have, however, enjoyed wathcing it unfold. As for colour, I’m fairly open; as for style I prefer modern, geometric or traditional without too much frufru, but I’ll have a go at most things if I have time. There are a few things I don’t like, but that’s ok, I can skip those months!

  11. I have been participating in Block Lotto for a couple of years, and lurked for awhile before that. It is always fun to see what Sophie comes up with next – let me echo what others have said, Sophie, you do a fantastic job and I really appreciate all your hard work. I know there have been times it hasn’t been easy to get it all done.

    The thing I like most is the fact that many of your blocks challenge me in some way – a new color combination, or technique that I haven’t tried before, or a new way to make a traditional block that is different than I have seen – I have learned a lot of new methods that I use regularly. I appreciate that you sometimes include a couple of different ways to make a block. Sometimes I choose what is easiest if I’m busy, mostly I try to learn something new. I hope you will continue to share your new discoveries through Block Lotto.

    Size is not a big issue with me, although they do need to be small enough to get through the mail without a hassle. I have not participated in the Mod challenge this year. but have enjoyed seeing what others are doing, and can see where a total quilt might encourage others to try every block. My least favorite blocks are the liberated and wonky blocks, but I try to keep an open mind. Scrappy is pretty much a must in the Block Lotto I would think, because we all have different fabrics in our stash.

    One thought did occur to me. We have added so many international members lately, and each country has their own unique colors and looks in their quilts. It might be fun to explore those differences in some way.

  12. It looks like I am totally outnumbered in my preference for more liberated blocks. However I am really happy to try anything and have been lucky enough to win twice recently. I haven’t done paper piecing as yet and have skipped those months – maybe I need to be more adventurous. I have learned so much since I joined this group probably about 4 years ago now.

  13. Thanks for asking for our input Sophie!
    I like both traditional and modern blocks. Loved the chevrons, the windows and the spokes so far this year. Anything where we can use novelty prints is fun for me. I guess I’m more about fun than anything else, which is why I love my bird quilt, place mats, table runner and living room pillows!
    Redwork and other embroidery is something I will only do for family and close friends because it is very time consuming to me.
    Not into civil war reproduction fabrics or Asian.
    Raw edge applique is okay in limited doses and fused applique always seems to come apart if it is not edge stitch (could just be me!).
    Whatever the decision for next year, I look forward to it!
    I like the row quilts I’ve seen recently.

  14. You are so creative, and I’ve enjoyed every month of Block Lotto. Thanks so much. One idea I had was to have a year of color study blocks. Maybe take a color like blue or green, and make blocks that are monochromatic one month, complementary another month, analogeous another month. Maybe a single color surrounded by two colors to show how our perception changes based on what is next to it. I also am intrigued by Weeks and Ringle’s transparency quilts. Maybe you could even use the same block for several months in a row and do different color combinations to show how the placement of lights and darks or having little contrast can change the look.
    So, you can see that I have color on my mind these days.
    I know I’ll love whatever you come up with.
    Kathie L

  15. I like this idea!

  16. Everyone’s comments and suggestions are appreciated. You have some fantastic ideas. Sometimes my “voice of experience” kicks in and I have to think about how they can translate to a group of around 100 quilters with different tastes, skills and reasons for playing along … but if you know me, you know I love challenges like that.

    I am beginning to have some ideas and have even drawn a few blocks. Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. Because I’m a relative newcomer, I looked back at all the blocks in Block Lotto since it began — a prodigious number, Sophie, and something to crow about! I liked best the blocks that were “slashed” (the hot-crossed 9-patch, silly strings, spokes, etc.). I’m least interested in complex traditional patterns with lots of fiddly pieces and in very large blocks.

    I’ve been incredibly lucky in winning blocks. I’ve appreciated that the blocks so far have been amenable to a creative setting and result in an exciting finished quilt. I’ve never been a traditional quilter and have stayed away from muted and “country” fabrics, preferring the bright and clear solids and patterns.

    Here are things I’d like to see in 2015: (a) smaller blocks (maybe 4″ or 5″) rather than larger ones; (b) emphasis on solid fabrics (or a tighter definition of “tone-on-tone”); (c) use of white or black as background (if there is background in the block); (d) paper piecing, but not so complicated that it would discourage the making of multiple blocks; (e) room for individual creativity — e.g., the windows, I-spy, paper dolls, and the wonky houses.

    And a last comment. I’d like Sophie to reconsider the limitation that all blocks be unique. If a maker creates more than 3 blocks, allow him/her to duplicate the fabrics used in the second set of 3 and in the third set, if nine blocks are allowed. The distribution system currently used splits up our “production line” if it is larger and assigns it to two or three participants. Thus, a maker could assure than no recipient would receive identical blocks.

    I hope this doesn’t sound like bleating. I have a big stash and can always find different fabrics for all the blocks. But I also know that I didn’t have much fabric when I was new to quilting and some quilters just don’t have the space (or the inclination) to stuff every orifice in their home with quilting fabric.

    And a postscript: I think embroidery or redwork would keep me from making blocks, as would English paper piecing. I have too much arthritis for that kind of handwork. Even hand applique is a trial….

  18. One other idea would be “window” blocks over larger prints , either traditional attic window or a lattice or silhouette. Be interesting to play with our large prints.

  19. So as most people know I have only been with bock lotto for a couple of months. What I have noticed is that there seem to be some months that people are busier then others. So another idea for this coming up year is maybe put that into consideration. So far I have noticed that June and September people seem to be at the busiest, although that may not go for everyone and maybe there are more months that I’m not noticing, but to maybe use the harder blocks on months that people may have more time for and use the easier blocks for the busier months.

  20. Sophie,

    I love theme quilts. I like blocks in different sizes and any technique. I like the idea of doing a theme quilt where each month’s block will relate to the theme. I think it would be great if the color/fabrics coordinated all year so we could make blocks for ourselves, and if we won any blocks, they would go with the blocks we have already been making.

    I will say, that no matter what you decide, I will still participate when I can.

    One more thing, do you ever get to win? It just seems that you work so hard for us and always donate your blocks. I think you should be allowed to win with as much of a chance as anyone else.

  21. How about creating some “fabric” out of scraps. I’m trying to use a lot of leftover scraps in lieu of buying new fabric. I have lots of strips so anything that is strippy and scrappy is good for me. I also like the idea of doing the fore mentioned study in color. and I also like the modern minimalistic look.

  22. I think what draws me to block lotto is learning new techniques. I have learned so much by doing a block each month and keep getting pushed passed my comfort level. So my input for 2015 is simply feel free to keep pushing me to learn a new technique. Lol, I have no idea what Redwork is, SO feel free to bring it on!!

    • …..and appliqué is something I have trouble with. Another excellent project for 2015!

      • a row quilt might be fun too. Just thinking out loud.

    • a row quilt might be fun too. Just thinking out loud.

  23. There have been plenty of great ideas so far. I like the surprise each month of both technique and color and think that it might spoil the fun if there was a theme that limited this too much. Since I joined there has been an annual theme that’s allowed some interpretation and I think this is still the way to go.

    Although I have played every month since I joined, I’ve never made a sampler using the blocks from the year. Maybe this is because samplers aren’t my thing. If I did consider doing one, there would need to be some consistency in the design – maybe all stars, or all blocks with flying geese (or squares, or 1/4 square triangles, or circles, or …).

    I have no preferences about size or color. Yes, the big blocks are more expensive to send, but that doesn’t bother me even though I live on the opposite side of the world from most of you. A larger block does give some more flexibility in the design.

    As usual, Sophie, whatever you come up with is great as far as I’m concerned. Each month I look at the instructions and sometimes my initial thought is “Eeew”, but after making a few and seeing the others, I always say “Oooh”. I always look forward to the last day of the month with my fingers crossed wondering if it is my lucky day!

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