All Roads Lead Somewhere (ARLS) is a series of 19 appliqué blocks that work well together. Too well, some might say.
I combined the first block with the other 18 blocks to see what the patterns looked like. It took a little time (and about 125 pages). There’s a little problem with Time/Space: I don’t have the Time to do the rest, and you don’t have the Space for a book that’s approximately 2,250 pages long.
How to get around it?
Here’s a low-tech hack that’s literally “cut and paste.” Make copies of the blocks to combine.
Use one set of copies as base; cut the other into horizontal rows and vertical columns. Label the strips.
Glue the columns and rows to the base, alternating with the base columns and rows. Slice the base and weave the two patterns together.
The patterns also combine with themselves. There’s no rule that states the rows and columns must be right side up; there’s no rule that states the rows and columns can’t switch.
In 1994, I started studying symmetry because I wanted to understand the structure of patterns. I learned the rules, I bent the rules, I broke the rules. I developed a method to generate endless patchwork patterns from a single patch. I designed a patch that I have used exclusively for over 25 years.
The patch was a square divided into thirds with lines running through it. No matter how the patch was rotated, the lines would connect with lines in other patches. Each arrangement of patches generated a different pattern.
I started working with large-scale Celtic knots ten years ago. I developed a method to transfer the paths of a knot to fabric and weave them together. I wrote several books about it.
Several years ago, I encountered a board game that caused a stir because I recognized the playing pieces immediately. The playing pieces were squares divided into thirds; the lines running through the squares looked like Celtic knots! I hadn’t thought about knot work subject to the rules of symmetry until that moment.
I drafted several pieces and created Knots and Unknots (from leftovers of the Knots). I set them aside for several years.
July, 2020, I revisited the drafted blocks, drafted some more, and created two pieces, “All Roads Lead Somewhere,” and “Road Trip.”
Since then, I have drafted more blocks, and reordered them (twice). I think I’m ready to share them with you.
The designs can be used three ways: as coloring pages, as a pattern library (and additional coloring pages), and as appliqué templates. You don’t need me to tell you how to color. I think you will love the pattern library. There are endless patterns, and I will show you some neat tricks to see them. There are more than enough pattern to keep you busy stitching with your appliqué method of choice.
Earlier this week, I started my series of appliqué blocks. I’ve made some changes.
I changed the download file, Block A, to include small tiles of the block, a colored version of the block to show how the shapes overlap each other, and a sample pattern.
I changed the alignment guide. I added a layer of cardboard from a cereal box between the printed block and the sandpaper. I trimmed away all but the seam allowance.
I cut a window out of the block proper and taped the second alignment guide in position on my squaring ruler.
I use the marked lines to align the shapes within the block before I trim it.
Windows within windows within windows . . .
I also came across a stash of fabric with fusible adhesive attached; leftovers from previous projects. I sorted them by color and decided on a more methodical approach in my color selection, rather than random.
“All Roads Lead Somewhere” (ARLS) is a series of appliqué blocks inspired by a board game. The appliqués look like roads running through the blocks. Join the blocks together, and the roads take you on an interesting journey. I invite you to join me.
Download and print ARLS: Block A here. You’ll need it to follow along.
All ARLS blocks are 7 inches square. The blocks contain four shapes that connect at the same locations along the sides.
Since alignment is critical, it helps to make an Alignment Guide out of Block A:
Print Block A on cardstock, add seam allowances to all sides, and extend internal lines.
Glue the printed template to the back of a sheet of sandpaper. The sandpaper gives the template more support and keeps it from sliding around on fabric. Cut along the seam lines, removing the window inside.
Cut out additional windows outside the seam allowances. These help position the guide on background fabric.
I do raw-edge fusible appliqué; you are free to use the methods and techniques you’re comfortable with.
Prepare four four of Shape A (they are identical). I suggest extending the ends of the shapes a little beyond the seam allowances.
Position the Alignment Guide on background fabric.
Lay the Shape A pieces on the background fabric in counterclockwise order, starting with the left vertical Shape A. Fold back the upper half of the left vertical Shape A to lay on top of the upper horizontal Shape A. This maintains a consistent over-and-under throughout the blocks.
I fuse the center of the block, move the alignment guide out of the way, then fuse the rest of the block. After I stitch down the shapes, I trim the blocks.
The block has fourfold rotation: it looks the same no matter how you rotate it. Four blocks joined together aren’t very exciting:
I recently designed and made a throw from recycled blue jeans and silk neckties. I cut the jeans into squares and appliqued silk shapes on them before sewing the squares together. The designs were inspired by a board game.
I liked it so much, I made another.
I made four more patches.
I rotated the patches for the next block and came up with different possibilities.
Now that’s interesting, I thought. I applied the operations of symmetry to the patch and increased its potential.