When I sit down to sketch (on paper or in EQ8), unless I have something specific in mind, I’ll often start by playing with old favourites – like a star, or some triangles, or maybe even some curves. It’s like a warm-up, to get my brain thinking about shapes and colours.
This week’s series of sketches came from a star block. But I’m not going to show you the original star block I came up with. Why not? Because it’s boring!
One of the advantages of using Electric Quilt 8 for designing quilts is how easily you can manipulate single blocks. Often I’ll design a block that’s a bit meh, but rotating it, flipping it, or colouring it differently can create something way more interesting. Those sorts of manipulations are much more time-consuming (and paper-consuming!) to do with my gel pen and dot pad.
So I’ll walk you through a bunch of designs that came out of the original boring star block. The boring star block was created from 4 copies of a single mini-block, and it’s this mini-block that I’ve manipulated to create a bunch of new designs.
Here’s the first one. The block is laid out in a 6 x 6 grid, with the blocks all facing the same direction. The two-colour palette (not counting white) helps you to differentiate the single blocks.
Still facing the same direction, but now the pink blocks are in a reverse colourway – the pink and white are switched. It’s a small change but it definitely gives the two designs a slightly different feel.
Switching back to a single colour (black) subtly changes the design again. This one makes me think of sprigs of vegetation out in the desert.
Rotating the blocks introduces a new variation. In the design below, the blocks are rotated 90 degrees with respect to their neighbours. The alternating colours help to create some new shapes and movement.
Adding in a third colour (and a border, just for fun) helps to distinguish those spiky internal shapes from the angled border shapes. The blue and pink shapes now feel like two interconnected webs, controlling those spiky black shapes (which have 8 ‘legs’!).
Or the black shapes can come to the foreground, by colouring in the squares that have thus far remained hidden. This also streamlines the blue and pink border shapes, which actually helps to refine its movement (to my mind, anyway).
We can thicken up the blue and pink by switching out the border shapes for the spiky-background shapes instead. We can still see the diagonal movement of the colours, but we get to see more of the colours too.
You can get a better idea of where those squares came from (and how they contribute to the actual construction of a quilt from this design) if we colour them differently. I think this design might be my favourite of this series.
Or switch blue to white, and add a coloured border to make the pink feel like it’s a background rather than a foreground colour.
You could embrace white as a background colour, and use chunky rinds of colour to separate the black spikes.
Or take the focus off the black spikes altogether.
But I kinda like the spikes, so here they’re the focus again. This pared-back design doesn’t need any half-rectangle triangles like the other designs – they could be replaced with solid rectangles here. Much quicker and easier! I think this version would look great in a scrappy palette or a limited palette with scrappy fabrics.
Using a single colour can help to show the construction of a single block. There’s so much going on in this version that I think it needs a super-limited palette to not be too overwhelming (for me, anyway).
And, last but not least, a totally different version that just goes to show the versatility (and serendipity) you can create by changing only block rotation and colour placement.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; I have so many more variations of this design that I haven’t shared here. I just wanted to show how easy it is to make large changes to an overall design by tweaking little bits along the way.
So, each block is constructed using two squares, two half-rectangle triangles, one half-square triangle, and two triangle-in-a-square units. Depending on your colour placement though, you might not need some of these units.
I’m pretty sure I once said that the half-square triangle was my favourite quilt shape. But I think I’m changing my mind. I am loving half-rectangle triangles at the moment!
I feel like half-rectangle triangles just have more energy somehow. That sharper angle just gives it a more zig-zaggy zing somehow. OK, that sounds a bit wacky. But hopefully you know what I mean 🙂
The motif in this design – which is a bit like a bolt of electricity crossing the page* – has sooooo much potential. I created a bunch of designs along this theme, but these ones were some of my favourites.
* I say ‘page’, because I started off sketching this on paper, before moving over to EQ8 to speed things along.
Anyway, here are some more designs along the same theme. First up – the zig-zags arranged horizontally, in a limited colour palette.
Or arranged in a cascade. The design on the left follows a regular pattern in only two colours, while the one on the right has a more irregular pattern and an expanded palette of four colours. Funny how just a few small changes can make such a big difference!
Or back to the original, simplest version, with a vertical rather than a horizontal orientation. I probably should’ve put a border around this one to make it clearer against the white background of this webpage, but you get the gist.
These designs can be translated into quilt patterns using HRTs, HRTs and more HRTs! And some rectangles and/or long strips, too.
This week’s design came out of the same sketching session that produced Sunday sketch #207. You can see that they use a lot of the same shapes (half-square triangles and half-rectangle triangles). Whereas Sunday sketch #207 used a single small motif repeated over and over, this design is a 6 x 6 layout of a spiky block that’s rotated up or down, creating more spiky secondary shapes.
This design could be rotated so the bands of coloured shapes extend vertically instead, but I prefer the horizontal layout. I can see the hint of diagonal lines extending between the blocks, thanks to the angles of some of those shapes. And for some reason, they’re less clear in the vertical layout (at least to me).
With a design like this, which extends to two sides of the frame (rather than all four), adding a border (like the binding on a quilt) gives a slightly different feel.
The reverse colourway also works (without binding, this time).
I was playing with this design when Libs Elliott announced the release of her latest range of fabrics, Phosphor, which is due in stores in August. It looks like a great collection of super-saturated, vibrant colours with a faint denim pattern. I downloaded the image files from Andover Fabrics and imported them into my EQ8 fabric library. Here’s Dayglow mixed with Kona Storm. This pic doesn’t do it justice!
I love working with solids and basics, so I’m looking forward to seeing these fabrics in person.
This design uses mostly half-square triangles and half-rectangle triangles, although there’s one triangle in the block that’s non-standard. Paper-piecing would probably be the easiest way to get the angles right without complicated cutting and measuring. Of course, the design could be tweaked to replace that non-standard shape with a half-rectangle triangle, but it gives a slightly different look overall, and I preferred this one. Sometimes the easiest way is not the best way 🙂