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.
I hope you’re all hanging in there, wherever you are in the world and however much coronavirus has disrupted your life and livelihood.
This week’s sketch is another super-simple one with lots of potential for colourplay and even different blocks.
Angle your head by 45 degrees and you can see that these are just square blocks arranged on point. Most of the blocks are either white background or coloured foreground squares. The other blocks are half-snowballs (basically a square with two opposite corners lopped off) and diamond shapes.
I originally started with the two easiest shapes, which might make the grid layout more obvious:
And, since it feels a bit like a chandelier or necklace, I played around with some negative space too…
This would be a great design for a quick and simple scrappy quilt. Many of us have a lot more time up our sleeves now, so feel free to whip one up if you’ve got the scraps!
I changed my mind about the Sunday sketch I was planning on sharing this week. I decided it was too close to a pattern that another quilt designer has already published. There were slight variations – I used half-rectangle triangles, whereas they used half-square triangles, and the placement of the shapes was different – but the ‘feel’ of the two designs was definitely the same. Purely coincidental, but too close for comfort, at least for me. Sometimes I think it’s useful to share such designs, as an opportunity to discuss serendipity in creativity and to celebrate fellow quilters’ work. But in this case, I’d want to discuss it with the other quilter first.
So anyway, here’s one I prepared earlier 🙂 Much earlier, in fact! I first posted this design on Instagram in October 2015 (long before the Sunday sketch series started!) as part of Blossom Heart Quilts‘ #myDIYblockdesign challenge. Alyce had just published her DIY Block Design e-book, and challenged readers to create their own blocks. I had just started quilting, so was keen to practice as much as possible. I used Excel (!) to design a series of blocks using half-square triangles, and this is one of them!
I recently revisited this design, using EQ8 to redraw and recolour it. Whenever I create a block-based design, I always try the reverse colourway for alternate blocks.
The design also works well in two colours, with an optional third to tie the blocks together using that repeated square within and between the blocks.
Or the blocks can be coloured slightly differently, again using just two colours. This approach definitely makes the design busier; I think it might be better with two fabrics that contrast a little more than this pink and red….
This design is a simple one (so much so that it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a traditional block): it’s all half-square triangles and a few squares. You could also make it using half-snowball units, quarter-square triangle units, and square-in-a-square units – which would maybe add a bit of work but cut down on a few seams.