Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the following are those of the author and should not be misconstrued as being anything other than the opinion of the author, and are presented for the express purpose of aiding those who would like some assistance with designing a quilt for a male friend/relative and are not intended to be taken as gospel in any way,shape,form or fashion. Your mileage may vary, all rights reserved, does not contain peanuts, void where prohibited.
The vast majority of quilting magazines would give one the impression that all quilts are either works of art that should hang on walls rather than actually keep someone warm, or are to be enjoyed only by married couples, single women, babies or "country folk". My friend Lea and I make a lot of quilts, however, for our single adult male friends.
We see patterns for quilts in pretty pastels, beautiful flowery confections or color-co-ordinated designer prints with draperies and pillow-shams to match, all rather frou-frou, but other than the rare "sailing" or "hunting" pattern, not much for guys.
Designing a quilt for a single adult male is more of a challenge to most, because one is dealing with something the magazines and websites dedicated to quilting are not focused upon - men. However, the amount of gratitude and the sheer joy from the men we've gifted with quilts is so amazing that it begs a plea to other quilters to consider these guys when you're thinking "who can I choose for my next quilt-recipient victim!"
In general, I think we can all figure that choosing fussy florals and delicate pastels are a bad idea, but when I design for an adult male friend, I take a bit more into account.
First off, I remember that a lot of guys are into rather... well... filthy dirty...recreational activities. Sweaty sports, automotive repair, woodworking, etc. Things that make them dirty, greasy, gooey or otherwise less than pristine. We like them that way, so rather than changing THEM, we need to consider this as a part of our overall strategy in creating a quilt for them. While they may treasure the quilt - they also may just see it as another blanket, so you have to be prepared for it to take a beating.
Be sure to pre-wash all your fabrics - including the backing - in HOT HOT HOT water. Dry them on the hottest possible dryer setting. Remember that the intricacies of the art of laundry are lost on most guys, and "dump it in and let it rip" is the extend of most of their concern for the art form. Oh, sure, there are a few who will think long enough to keep their tighty-whities separate from their red t-shirts, but don't bet on it. For this reason it is also a good idea to use a larger seam allowance than the standard 1/4". I suggest at LEAST 3/8 - 1/2 is even better.
Darker colors, and patterns that won't show a few stains or smudges are a good idea. NO FLORALS. FLORALS ARE BAD. There are so many great fabrics out there in 100% cotton that aren't florals - this is the opportunity to let them shine.
Darker colors will also differentiate this quilt from a more "girly" quilt. Guys as a rule may like "girly" on girls, but don't necessarily want to live with it if they are single. The bali prints or the tye-dye type semi-solids are great for men's quilts. I have a great olive green one that I'm saving for a "special someone" when the time comes to make the quilt.
Find out what your guy's favorite colors are. Don't automatically assume "BLUE". One guy we know prefers teal and red. Another likes black and orange (this was a challenge to not have be a halloween quilt!!). Don't worry so much about how it will affect his decor, instead make something that he will like because it reflects HIM.
Since we're dealing with men, we also get to eliminate 99.9% of the applique quilt patterns. Sorry applique fans, but a fussy Baltimore Album quilt just isn't going to be anything but too girly or too cutesy. Real men need Real Geometric Patchwork.
The beauty part of this is that the simpler, the better. A nice Shoo-Fly or large-scale Lone Star will be appreciated and boggled-over as much or more than some intricate and complicated pattern. Also, as many more men than women are color-blind, a simpler pattern allows you to use a smaller number of fabrics, and gives you the freedom to choose colors with greater contrast to let them appreciate the pattern.
Borders and sashings work well, as long as the geometric basics are simple. Less is more - too many intricacies tends to give a "girly" impression.
Another cool idea is to find fabrics and patchwork patterns that are significant to the specific individual. Randy is a musician from Texas - a "Lone Star" quilt was the perfect choice for him. David had just been through a rough divorce and was having issues dealing with his re-singlehood - we didn't tell him that his quilt's pattern was "Bachelor's Puzzle", but it sure fit.
Bindings should be simple, mitered corner, and at least 3/4" wide. Don't fuss with the fancy scalloped or arrowhead bindings. Simple is best. Also, it won't break your heart as much when you see it laying on the floor of the garage.
For the quilting patterns, again, K.I.S.S. is the best rule - Keep It Simple, Silly. (Yes, I know I paraphrased that - I'm trying to be nice today.) Forget all the fancy curleyques and floral designs and linked hearts. Nice straight lines are your best bet. Again, remember that garage floor. The only exception we've made to this "rule" of thumb is for Randy's quilt, where we quilted the shapes of his guitars and the inlay-work on one of the guitars into the wide gold border around the outside of his quilt. Otherwise - straight lines.
If you hand-quilt, using a contrasting color thread will show up the quilting pattern on the back and confuse him about which side is "up". This is fun to do.