I’ve been having a lot of fun lately, designing within rules that I’ve set myself. The rules don’t have to make a whole lot of sense, and I don’t always follow them absolutely, but I find them really helpful in guiding my creativity.
The design below is a 5×5 repeat of a single block: 4 rectangles staggered around a central square. Each rectangle can be a solid, or a half-rectangle triangle unit of two colours: the original colour (red, teal, navy or hot pink), and either yellow or white.
Mix them up enough, and it becomes hard to discern the underlying rules – although there’s enough regularity or consistency across the design that you can tell it’s not completely random or improv.
Even when I’m not creating a completely symmetrical design, I still try to find some balance between elements and colours. In this design, for example, I tried to avoid having more than one solid rectangle in any one block, and to make sure that the solid rectangles of each colour don’t appear more than once in any row or column. I also tried to make sure that adjacent blocks didn’t have the same yellow/white pattern. I’m fairly sure I managed to follow those extra rules, but you might find places where I’ve slipped up. I usually don’t mind, if I’m happy overall with the final design.
The design also works in a more limited palette of only 3 colours:
As usual, I can’t design which one I prefer. This is one of those designs that gets me really excited. I just want to get busy sewing!
I mentioned awhile ago that I often set myself ‘rules’ when sketching. You might think that rules would curtail creativity, but I find that they enhance it. Instead of looking at a blank page (or screen), with no idea of how or where to start, I can go where the rules take me. By limiting my options, they actually help me to come up with more ideas.
This week’s rule is a simple one: the four triangles in a quarter-rectangle triangle (QRT) block can each extend into an adjacent quarter of the rectangle, becoming a half-rectangle triangle (HRT). They can only ever extend into the same quarter, and the four colours need to create four different HRTs. OK, that’s more than one rule, but they’re kinda all related.
So the orange QRT (which starts at the bottom of the rectangle) becomes an HRT with its back to the right-hand side of the block. Similarly, the grey QRT (which starts at the top of the rectangle) becomes an HRT with its back to the left-hand side of the block. The pink and blue QRTs, which start at the left and right of the rectangle, respectively, end up as HRTs that are right-side up or upside down, respectively. Each HRT overlaps two others, which leaves a lot of room for playing with colour.
Speaking of which, I’m trying to explore new colour palettes, and I’m almost onto a new one here… but not really. I’m still stuck on pink and orange… but at least I’ve added dark blue and grey! I think it’ll be awhile before I get tired of these colours.
I tried a few other combinations of four colours…
(I really like that bottom-left one!)
And even a few with different shades of the same colour…
Which I think work fairly well. But yeah… send new palettes my way! 🙂
This design also lends itself to playing with transparency, which would let you introduce another 4 colours (the colours at the midway points between the original 4 colours you choose). I’m not sure if this would make the design too busy though – I’ll have to try it and see!
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 🙂