Sunday sketch #332

Is it cheating to post a Sunday sketch for the first time after I’ve made a quilt from it? (I guess not really, since I make the rules haha!)

I designed this sketch awhile ago, when planning what three quilts I’d contribute to ‘The Before Times’, an exhibition at the Wangaratta Art Gallery in Victoria, Australia, from 12 November to 18 December 2022.

The exhibition is curated by Tara Glastonbury (@stitchandyarn) and features work from six artists. We were each free to interpret the theme of ‘The Before Times’ in our own way. I thought about geometry and going back to the most basic of shapes: triangles, rectangles and ellipses. I designed each quilt around a single shape, and this week’s sketch is the basis of the ‘square’ quilt (which I’ll post about in more detail later).

I’ve talked before about how imposing constraints on designing can actually be helpful. When you’re allowed to move in any direction, indecision can leave you standing still. But when you can only go in a specific direction, it can be easier to move forward.

Squares are the most basic of shapes in patchwork, and there are a million (or more!) quilt designs that use only squares to great effect. It took me awhile to come up with something interesting that I felt like I hadn’t seen before, then even more time to find a colour palette I liked.

I love how the squares look like those crocheted squares that interlock at their edges.

The actual quilt that I made looks a little different – I added some asymmetrical borders and used a different colour palette. The design works well in a lot of different colourways – basically any four colours that go together but have sufficient contrast so that adjacent colours don’t blend into one another too much.

I always have a bit of fun using the ‘Randomize’ feature in Electric Quilt 8… more often than not, the output is a bit yuck, but occasionally I find a colour combo that I can tweak.

This quilt design can be made into a quilt using big squares and small squares. I actually sewed long strips together then subcut them to make the outer edges of each block (the alternating small squares). The same pairs of colours appear throughout, so that was a much faster way of doing it.

I called the quilt based on this sketch ‘Tetrapacked’, as a nod to the basic shape. I’m not sharing too much about it online yet, because I’ve also submitted it to QuiltCon 2023. So if you want to see it, you can head to the Wangaratta Art Gallery to see ‘The Before Times’ exhibition 🙂


Sunday sketch #331

This week’s Sunday sketch is inspired by art that I saw on Twitter. I follow a few accounts that serve up wonderful art every day – images of paintings or other creations and the people behind them. My favourites are @MenschOhneMusil and @womensart1.

PL Henderson, the art historian who curates the #WOMENSART feed, posted a series of works by Ukrainian-French artist Sonia Delaunay in early October. The image of 1920s-1930s clothing designs caught my eye. Those shapes and colours!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Sonia Delaunay or her work. She combined abstract geometric shapes and bold colours in art and fashion. And she was a quilter! Well, she made at least one quilt, a process that apparently prompted her to change the direction of her art practice.

Anyway, it seems fitting that I’d be inspired by one of her designs. If you check out the image of the clothing designs on Twitter, you might spot which dress sparked this idea.

Delaunay’s sketch of a dress design uses a quarter-square triangle for the bodice and two squares flanking a triangle for the skirt. I created the same shapes and linked them in columns with another quarter-square triangle added in-between; that let me ensure that the ‘skirts’ in adjacent columns didn’t interfere with each other.

In the next version, I coloured the ‘skirts’ differently from the bodices and extra quarter-square triangles. You can see that I inverted the shapes in alternating columns.

Because there are so many shapes, there are lots of other possible variations in colour placement. This next one is perhaps a bit heavy in this colourway. But sometimes it’s fun to play, just to see if any new ideas emerge.

I also tried two shades of a single colour, which also looks good, I think. This approach also makes it clearer to see secondary shapes and other apparitions emerge from the design. I feel like there are a few serious dogs (or bears?) wearing shades in this version. (Can you see what I mean, or do I sound like I’ve lost my mind?)

There are a couple of ways this design could be made into a quilt. You could create a bunch of quarter-square triangles and lay them out in columns, separated by columns made of flying geese and squares laid vertically. Or you could set the whole thing on point, and use squares and half-square triangles instead. I think it’d be pretty easy once you got started.

If you want to read more about Sonia Delaunay, check out this profile in the Guardian, published to accompany an exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2015, and a more recent article from this year, in Daily Art Magazine.



Sunday sketch #330

I made one more addition to last week’s block. There’s now a curve running diagonally through it; the two quadrants of the block with the half-circles now have a larger quarter-circle too, which connect to create a curve that extends across the block. And makes the whole design very groovy.

These designs remind me of those swirly endpapers that you sometimes see in old books. Or the designs you can make with water marbling. They might be a bit over the top for a quilt, but I couldn’t resist playing anyway.

Here’s the same block, just rotated.

I used these colours because I recently finished making a quilt with a similar palette (but a less psychedelic design). I think they work here though! Very in-your-face, but in a good way.

These designs could be made into quilts using curves, curves and more curves. Some smaller, some larger. I always use templates for cutting/piecing curves; my favourites are Jenny Haynes’ (which you get find here), because her cutting templates are oversized. That means any dodgy sewing doesn’t really matter (like my complete inability to match up the beginnings and ends of the convex and concave pieces), because I can just trim the units down to the perfect size later using her squaring template. Game-changer!

Anyway, this week’s Sunday sketch is the last in a series of four related sketches that all use blocks featuring those small, diagonally placed semi-circles (or half-circles) and another element (or two). It’s fun to see how little tweaks can have such a big effect!