Usually I pick up my sketch pad only when I’ve got an idea in my head that I need to work out. I wait until inspiration hits before I start sketching, otherwise I might sit for ages with no good ideas. Luckily, finishing one design usually gives me ideas for the next one… and so on, and so forth.
But when I’m not feeling overly inspired, I often set myself ‘rules’ for designing. They can help narrow down the infinite number of possibilities when facing a sketch pad with a pen in hand.
Can you tell what the rules were with this week’s sketch?
I knew I wanted to play with half-square triangles. So I decided that:
- the half-square triangles needed to be the same size
- the half-square triangles needed to angle in the same direction
- the half-square triangles needed to be in columns of 5
- each column had to be connected to another one (of the same colour) in some way – even if just the tippy top of one half-square triangle was touching the next one.
I started with the blue half-square triangles, and then added the yellows (another rule: the yellow columns needed to face the other way, while still adhering to all the previous rules).
Because the yellow and blue half-square triangles face different directions, they can nestle amongst each other without completely overlapping. They can butt up against each other, with their backs aligned; interlock while facing each other; or just hover near one another, creating interesting interstitial negative space. The areas where the blue and yellow meet closely almost look green.
I tweaked the design at the end, to balance the coloured areas and whitespace, so I might’ve broken some of my rules in a few places. That doesn’t bother me so much. The point of the rules is not to follow them religiously, but to use them as a foundation for building new ideas.
I thought about making this one for potential submission to QuiltCon 2020* but ultimately decided it’s not impactful enough. After I designed it, I went hunting to see if I could find anything like it. Although I didn’t see anything too similar, I decided that there are too many other random-HST-like designs out there, and that this one isn’t that exciting after all. Although I do still love it…!
* I’ve never designed anything specifically for QuiltCon before, but I really enjoyed getting Frequency (called ‘Sound Maze’ by Modern Patchwork) into the show last year and into the QuiltCon magazine. I don’t expect to have such luck again, but I like the idea of setting myself a lofty goal: purposefully designing and making a modern quilt that’s worthy of QuiltCon. We’ll see if I can come up with anything by November!
I haven’t designed a whole lot with chevrons, although I really love the shape. In fact, I think it’s been about two years (!) since I posted a chevron design! Sunday sketch #52, posted back in June 2017, was an idea I had for using up a stack of 5″ Carolyn Friedlander charms (the result of which is still in my WIP pile, mostly because I need more background fabric and I can’t remember the exact shade/manufacturer of white that I used for the blocks I’ve already made… oops!).
Anyway, I recently picked up my A4-sized Rhodia dot pad and just started sketching chevrons randomly overlapping on the page.
Whenever I create an asymmetrical design like this, I still try to keep it balanced. So you’ll often see that a design that starts at the bottom left with end at the top right, or vice versa. And, if you drew a line across the middle (horizontally or vertically), you’d probably find roughly the same number of lines or shapes on each side. It’s how my order-loving brain copes with disorder 🙂
The movement in this design totally reminds me of a flutter of butterflies just randomly flying around, flapping their wings and getting in each other’s way.
I love all the little (and some big) shapes that appear when the chevrons overlap: squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds…. And I love how, when it gets really busy, it’s hard to see where the chevrons end and those shapes begin. It’s all just lines and angles.
This design would be fairly easy to piece, although possibly tricky (or at least time-consuming) to plan out. I figure any design that’s created on a grid can be made in fabric with a few calculations. This one would be quite a few calculations… but it’s doable with a bunch of half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles. It would just take a lot of planning. Especially if you wanted to play around with colour and create the effect of transparency.
Recently I created a bunch of related designs that I figured I’d just post together, since they’re so similar. They’re all based on triangles – mostly half-square triangles, but also some flying geese and some elongated diamond shapes (rhombi!).
I wanted to recreate the feel of my Heartbreaker quilt pattern – those long diagonal lines created by adjacent half-square triangles – and ended up sketching one design after another on my Rhodia dot pad. There really are no limits to how you can use those shapes in that way.
I love the energy and movement in these designs, and the way they evoke electricity pylons, or maybe cranes, or building scaffolding.
I plan to keep sketching more along this theme. I’d love to try making one of these designs into an actual quilt. I’d prefer to use piecing, although I think you could also make these designs using appliquéd bias strips (if you had a very steady hand or a long straight edge!).