I had an idea for a block this week. Two pairs of diagonal strips with angled ends, overlapping in the middle to create an ‘X’ shape. Don’t ask me where the idea came from – I must’ve seen an ‘X’ somewhere and wondered if I could do something with it.
One of the things I love most about quilt designing is the fact that a single block can create a million quilt patterns, just by rotating or colouring it differently. Case in point…
OK, that’s 4 (well, 2 colourways of 2 designs). I made more, but I just liked these 4 together. They’re all a 6 × 6 layout of the same block, using only 4 colours (I know, I know – black and white aren’t colours). Some use transparency; some don’t.
I actually love the idea of creating a single quilt with all 4 of those designs, with the same colour palette to pull them together. Wouldn’t that be cool?
The best thing about this design might be how basic the actual block is.
Given its symmetry and structure, I bet it’s a traditional block that’s been used before – it’s probably even got a name. It’s like a variation on a sawtooth star. Obviously, with different colouring, this block could be used to create completely different designs that don’t look anything like the ones above.
Making these designs into actual quilts would be pretty easy. You’d just need 4 flying geese blocks, 4 half-square triangles, and one square-in-a-square for the centre for each block.
If I could only ever design using one shape, I’d have to choose the half-square triangle. I just love it. Whenever I’m sketching aimlessly with no fixed idea in mind, I almost always start with some HSTs. They’re a bit edgy, but a bit tame; totally basic, yet versatile enough to lend themselves to some really sophisticated designs.
Recently, I sketched this idea…
It’s no great shakes, right? Not terribly interesting in black and white, but I decided to recreate it in Electric Quilt 8 to see if some colour would perk it up a bit. Well…
It’s funny what a pop of colour can do! I wasn’t overly inspired by this design on paper, but I really love it mocked up in a bright, fun colour palette.
It also works in monochrome, too… I cropped it slightly, so that it’s almost square and more symmetrical.
It’s not so clear, with the white background of the design against the white background of this page, but the half-kite shapes (made up of one HST and one half-rectangle triangle) on the sides balance each other out nicely. I reckon a contrasting binding (red against the white shapes; white against the red shapes) would look pretty cool on this one.
This design would be super-easy to make in monochrome, as each 2×3 block is made from 4 HSTs and 1 HRT. There’s an even number of blocks and half blocks, so you could use the 4-at-a-time HST method (or even 8-at-a-time!) and chain-piece your way to a finished quilt top in no time.
The multicoloured method would take a bit more planning, but nothing too difficult. Just a little bit of patience and a lot of coloured pencils 🙂
Usually I pick up my sketch pad only when I’ve got an idea in my head that I need to work out. I wait until inspiration hits before I start sketching, otherwise I might sit for ages with no good ideas. Luckily, finishing one design usually gives me ideas for the next one… and so on, and so forth.
But when I’m not feeling overly inspired, I often set myself ‘rules’ for designing. They can help narrow down the infinite number of possibilities when facing a sketch pad with a pen in hand.
Can you tell what the rules were with this week’s sketch?
I knew I wanted to play with half-square triangles. So I decided that:
- the half-square triangles needed to be the same size
- the half-square triangles needed to angle in the same direction
- the half-square triangles needed to be in columns of 5
- each column had to be connected to another one (of the same colour) in some way – even if just the tippy top of one half-square triangle was touching the next one.
I started with the blue half-square triangles, and then added the yellows (another rule: the yellow columns needed to face the other way, while still adhering to all the previous rules).
Because the yellow and blue half-square triangles face different directions, they can nestle amongst each other without completely overlapping. They can butt up against each other, with their backs aligned; interlock while facing each other; or just hover near one another, creating interesting interstitial negative space. The areas where the blue and yellow meet closely almost look green.
I tweaked the design at the end, to balance the coloured areas and whitespace, so I might’ve broken some of my rules in a few places. That doesn’t bother me so much. The point of the rules is not to follow them religiously, but to use them as a foundation for building new ideas.
I thought about making this one for potential submission to QuiltCon 2020* but ultimately decided it’s not impactful enough. After I designed it, I went hunting to see if I could find anything like it. Although I didn’t see anything too similar, I decided that there are too many other random-HST-like designs out there, and that this one isn’t that exciting after all. Although I do still love it…!
* I’ve never designed anything specifically for QuiltCon before, but I really enjoyed getting Frequency (called ‘Sound Maze’ by Modern Patchwork) into the show last year and into the QuiltCon magazine. I don’t expect to have such luck again, but I like the idea of setting myself a lofty goal: purposefully designing and making a modern quilt that’s worthy of QuiltCon. We’ll see if I can come up with anything by November!