This week’s design is a few steps further on from Sunday sketch #272 – you can probably see the same wedge shapes around the outside of each block, but the inside is now a cross shape that connects some of the wedges on opposite sides.
In the first version, I’ve used 2 colours + white in each block, against a dark blue background.
I used sashing to separate the blocks, but here’s the same design without sashing. It’s pretty energetic; probably a bit too energetic for me.
I find that using a common colour for the centre crosses helps to reduce the chaos a bit.
Or you can dial back the number of colours. Here I’ve used 2 shades of the same colour in each block. It instantly feels a bit calmer (the cool palette probably helps too).
Or even 2 shades of one colour across the whole design – again with the white centre crosses and the dark background and sashing.
It even works as a two-colour design – with the blocks in either an alternating colourway…
…or the same colourway.
(Doesn’t it feel like one of those folded paper cutouts? I wonder if you could recreate this design with a single sheet of paper and a pair of scissors….)
Like last week’s designs, this one would probably require paper-piecing (foundation or freezer paper) to get the wedges just right. The centre square of each block could be pieced normally (with some strips and squares), but the wedgy sides and corners would benefit from some paper-piecing and/or templates.
And here it is in my go-to happy palette: pink, orange and yellow! I can never resist.
It’s possible to remove the sashing, of course. I like the new shapes that emerge when there’s no sashing – like the octagons at the vertices between the blocks, and the hourglass shapes that join adjacent blocks.
The sashing does give you somewhere to rest your eye though, which is maybe needed? I think I prefer the version with sashing, but the non-sashing version definitely draws me in too. I can’t decide!
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that one of the hardest parts of designing for me is choosing a colour palette. I often use the same palette (pink, orange, yellow!) or limit myself to 3–4 colours.
Often, the number of colours is dictated by the number of elements in the block. The block in this week’s designs has 4 elements, which I’ve coloured in grey here so you can see them:
So for this design, I chose a palette of 4 colours (well, 3 plus white). And then I set myself a rule: in each row and each column, each colour could be used only once for each element. Of course, this only works because I used a 4 x 4 layout (if I’d added a 5th row or column, I would’ve had to repeat a particular element/colour combo at least once).
So – can you see how I’ve followed this rule in the versions below? Pick an element and a colour and check if it appears more than once in any column or row. For example, in the next version, look at the inner stars – how many green ones can you see? And where are they? What about white ones? Or yellow ones? Or blue? Do the same for the other 3 elements. They’re all distributed evenly across the whole design. It’s like some kind of Sudoku for quilt design haha.
It takes awhile to be able to balance colours and elements in this way, but it always makes me inordinately happy when I manage it. It also means that in this 4 x 4 layout, all 16 blocks are coloured differently. There are no repeats. (Really! You can check!)
If you remember permutations in maths, you’ll know that 4 colours can be ordered in 24 ways (4 x 3 x 2 x 1; that’s assuming you don’t want adjacent elements to have the same colour), which means there are another 8 unique block colourings that we could use in this quilt. Adding them would break my rule of not repeating the colours of certain elements in a single row or column, but we can’t have everything 🙂
Here are a few other colour combos. Changing where the lightest/darkest colours appear also changes the overall look a little bit.
I think this design reminds me a little of crocheted granny squares. I’ve never done crochet, but my mum made loads of crocheted blankets when I was a kid. I wish I still had one of them!
To make this design into a quilt, you’d probably need to use paper piecing to get the wedge shapes. Otherwise, you’d have to create templates to cut pieces precisely for standard piecing. I really love this design, so I’m very tempted to create my own freezer paper piecing templates to give it a go. I’ll post pics to Instagram if I do!
I call myself a modern quilter, but not all of my quilts (or my quilt designs) are modern. Some of them definitely lean more traditional. Don’t get me started on how to even define ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ quilts – I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think there’s a clear line that separates them. But sometimes a design just feels less like one and more like the other. It might be the layout, or the blocks, or the colour scheme, or the fabrics.
This week’s designs feel more traditional to me, probably for a few reasons. I picked a muted colour scheme, for one. And the designs are based on a sawtooth star, which dates back at least to the late 1800s. And I’ve gone for a regular, repetitive layout, instead of introducing the negative space or asymmetry that you might expect in a modern quilt.
But hey, enough of my yakkin’. Let’s get started!
OK, so I introduced a little bit of negative space, just to make it seem like this design is on point (it’s not). This is a 5 x 5 layout, with some borders added, and the 4 corner blocks removed. Some of the colours extend from one block to the next, which helps to tie the blocks together.
Here’s the same design with the corner blocks added back in, plus a version with slightly different colouring.
The colouring can also be pared back to highlight less of the foreground and more of the background. This first version feels like lacework letting the light through. And switching the colour of a few of the smaller elements from black to white gives an entirely new version with a whole other feel.
Paring back to just one colour requires filling in different shapes to distinguish the blocks. Now it’s like baubles and stars intertwined. This might make a good Christmas quilt in a different colourway!
Sticking with the two-colour design, we can highlight all the stars in white. The interstitial shapes become square-in-a-square units – some blue on white, and some white on blue. If this design didn’t feel traditional before, it does now!
I like the idea of paring back the design even further, so those square-in-a-square units become more prominent. The version on the left is just the same one as above, without the stars around the edges. In the version on the right, the middle squares of 4 of the white sawtooth stars have been coloured blue, blending them into the background. Suddenly it feels like the whole design is squares on point!
There are so many other ways these designs could be coloured to change the overall look and feel. And so many ways to make the design into an actual quilt: squares and square-in-a-square units; half-square triangles, flying geese and squares; or square-in-a-square units, half-snowball units and squares.