A very basic design this week, which immediately brings to mind arches and tunnels.*
Whenever I sit down to sketch without any particular design in my head, I start by playing around with basic shapes – circles, squares, triangles, rectangles. This is the first thing I came up with this week – a few lines, a few curves. A cute colour palette that makes me happy.
It’s not a groundbreaking design – someone somewhere will have already made a quilt just like this, I’m sure. (I even searched Pinterest for examples, but no luck. Laura Ward’s ‘Getting over the hump’ quilt uses arches of different scale and a limited colour palette, and Tula Pink’s Gothic Arches quilt pattern repeats the same shapes at different scales… but I can’t find an example of curved arches repeated like this… if you know of one, tell me and I’ll update this post!)
Anyway… my goal with the Sunday sketches is to explore geometry, practice playing with new shapes, make designs that make me happy… and inspire others to do the same. Sometimes even the most basic designs tick those boxes.
The blocks can be rotated to create a secondary shape – those black lozenges cut across with coloured triangles. The horizontal breaks between the rows feel like they’re descending slowly to the right… is that just an optical illusion?
I also tried a version in which the blocks don’t have that horizontal strip of colour at the bottom. This allows the arches and tunnels to sit directly on top of each other. In some cases, the background colour of one arch flows into the foreground colour of the tunnel above it. I don’t really plan colour placement when I’m colouring designs like this… I just work with one colour at a time and try to space things out so they feel comfortable to me. Occasionally I’ll avoid placing the same colours next to one another, but other times I just let it happen.
One advantage to removing the horizontal strip is that when blocks are rotated, the lines flow from one to the other without interruption.
And, because all these tunnels and arches make me think of aqueducts, I made a design with blocks of different size – a bit like the Pont du Gard.
These blocks are all made with triangles (somewhere between half-square triangles and half-rectangle triangles), curves (two adjacent drunkard’s path units or a single semi-circle) and strips. It would require lots of repetitive piecing, but I find that those quilts are often the fastest to sew!
* My husband helpfully suggested that I paint this design on a wall and wait for someone to crash into it hahahaha. Yes, it’s a bit Wile E. Coyote / Road Runner-esque…!
Time for some new shapes this week.
Have you tried freezer paper piecing? It’s like foundation paper piecing, but instead of sewing on to paper templates, you press the fabric on to freezer paper templates to hold it in place, and you sew the seams without sewing through the paper. This means there’s no need to rip paper out at the end, and you can use the templates again and again. I first learned this technique from another member of the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild (hi MJ!) and then again from Tara Faughnan in a workshop (Tara has a few online classes teaching this technique, and a CreativeBug class too.)
Anyway, so I’m not a huge fan of foundation paper piecing, but I do occasionally use freezer paper piecing, and the more I do, the more I’m hooked. So I’ve been thinking more lately about freezer paper-piece-able designs. I love a New York beauty block (all those spikes!) so tried a double-layer spiky design.
You can start to see how I designed the block by looking at all the colouring variations….
It looks just as good in the reverse colourway, too.
Each block is made from four quarter-blocks, which can be rearranged in other ways, too.
And the design works in multiple colours, too. These primary colours really pack a punch!
This design would be most easily made using templates for foundation paper piecing or freezer paper piecing, plus some curved strips for in-between the spiky bits.
Sometimes it takes many rounds of revision before I hit on a design that I like. I can walk you through how this one came to be, so you can see what I mean.
First, I started with a regular layout of squares and triangle-in-a-square blocks. I used flower shapes (like in #243), but coloured the squares in between the blocks to make it look like the shapes were overlapping. I liked how those background stars appeared, but overall the design felt a bit too crowded for me.
To relieve the crowdedness, I changed the layout (expanding the overall size, and increasing the number of blocks), added some negative space around the perimeter, and emptied out the central square of each shape (using the square-in-a-square block that I introduced in #245). I liked this version more, but it still felt a bit busy to me.
After looking at that design for awhile, I realised it might look interesting set on point (that is, on the diagonal). So I revised the design (all of this was done in Electric Quilt 8). Setting the same layout on point also introduces lots more negative space, which helps to focus your eye on the design but also relieves the busy-ness.
You’ll notice that I also filled in the spaces I’d introduced in the shapes themselves – I decided I didn’t need that square-in-a-square block after all.
So – I liked the diagonal layout more than the standard layout. But I still wasn’t completely satisfied. So I tried a few more variations, where the two sets of shapes (yellow and blue) overlapped in different ways. Here’s one.
Don’t you love those background stars that emerge in the middle, where the two sets of shapes overlap? I liked this version, but ultimately decided that there was still too much going on.
So I scaled back the movement by making the two sets of shapes run in parallel instead of perpendicular. Ahh, that’s better.
In this version, I also coloured those background stars in white. You might not notice them at first, as the white is only a shade brighter than the light-grey background. But once you get your eye in, they’re easy to find. I can’t decide if I prefer the stars highlighted like this or not… so you get to see both versions!