Each month I participate in the EQ8 Block Spotlight, which challenges me to use a new block from their collection. The more unusual blocks are easy to make eye catching, because they already are interesting! The true challenge is making something splendid from a block that is relatively ordinary. That was the case this month – the checkerboard block. It is a simple four square, set on point.

Emerald Argyle

How to make this simple block extraordinary? Two thoughts came to mind. First, play with the sizes. To me, the checkerboard looks a bit like argyle – you know the preppy sweaters and socks. I know that may offend some true Scots, but it gets my point across. A simple repeat of the pattern for an argyle wasn’t quite enough. However, using three sizes in alternating vertical rows – now that added more character. It was perfect that the points of points of the smaller block were echoed in the triangles of the larger blocks. This provided an interesting secondary effect – mini hearts! Do you see them? Given we are headed into the holidays, I chose reds and greens (the black is actually deep emerald) for this quilt. How would this look with gold quilting? It is called Emerald Argyle – perfect for the holidays!

Fifty-two Pick-up

A second way to spruce up a simple block is to add an applique. Checkerboards made me think of games. Simple checkers (circles) wasn’t enough. Chess pieces were too much. So what other game could fit? A black and white checkerboard also reminded me of marble floors and royalty. That was it! A card deck has royalty. The four suits would fit nicely on the four patch and there were two of each color: black spades and clubs and red diamonds and hearts. If used five rows, three rows could have three blocks, while two of the rows could have two blocks (half drop blocks). That would give me thirteen sets of four – or fifty-two cards. I felt pretty clever about this one. It isn’t often that math works in a quilt designers favor. The appliqued version is called Fifty-two Pick-up. For those of you not familiar with the game, just say no if asked to play.

This crazy logic is how Emerald Argyle and Fifty-two Pick-up were created from a simple checkerboard block. How have you turned a simple block into something interesting if not extraordinary?

Happy Quilting 🙂


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