We’re having a chilly winter in Melbourne this year, so I’m already dreaming of spring! This week’s sketch is also a good excuse to use my happy palette of warm yellows, pinks and oranges.
These cute flower blocks are offset by a half-block in each row, which elongates each flower ‘stem’ by extending it into the space between the two blocks beneath.
In the first version, I’ve used the same colouring for all the upper and lower ‘leaves’ in the blocks, with different colours for the flowers. But of course, the leaves can have a mix of colours too.
That’s a bit busy for my liking; here’s a version with all the blocks coloured in the same way. I’m not sure if it’s the limited palette or the darker greens that really help to highlight the repetition in those skinny curves and vertical lines.
Then I tweaked the design of the flowers themselves – this next design’s a bit more like a tulip, I think. This variation also creates a lovely diagonal movement from top left to bottom right, thanks to those new teardrop-shaped red ‘petals’.
This week’s sketch would be tricky, but not impossible, to translate into an actual quilt. It would take a combination of half-square triangles, drunkard’s path blocks, and skinny curved inset strips.
More skinny strips this week, but straight this time.
Believe it or not, this design is made from a single block in a 4×4 layout. And each block is a 4×4 arrangement of squares that are separated by thin sashing. Depending on how the background and sashing are coloured (or not), different parts come to the foreground or move to the background. Here’s the reverse colourway.
I actually started with black sashing and two colours. I worked through the shapes, colouring as I went, making sure that adjacent shapes never had the same colour. In some places I had to move the sashing or change the shapes to get the desired effect. (Oops, I can see one spot where two white shapes are touching sides.)
The black lines are a bit Mondrian-ish, of course, which is why I changed them up a bit.
This design could be made into a quilt using normal piecing of squares, rectangles and thin strips. And the layout possibilities are endless!
I’ve talked before about how my design skills match my sewing skills. I tend to design things that I could make myself. Before I’d sewn curves, I didn’t design quilts with curves. Until I could sew a partial seam confidently, I rarely designed quilts that needed them. I’ve never sewn a Y-seam (I know!), and I don’t think I’ve ever designed a quilt that uses them. When my sewing skills develop, so too do my design skills.
But occasionally I’ll play around with EQ8 and end up with a design that I know is beyond my capabilities as a quilter. It might be too complicated, or technical, or just impossible to piece in a straightforward way. I tend not to post these designs, because they never excite me as much as designs I know I could make. Maybe it’s because I don’t work on those designs as much, or iterate them to the point where they might excite me… as soon as I think “I don’t know how I’d make this”, I lose interest. But I save them (I save everything!), cos who knows what might happen in the future?
Well… let me tell you! You might take a class with Jenny Haynes of Papper, Sax, Sten on skinny inset strips, and realise that designs you’ve previously binned in the Too Hard Basket suddenly become absolutely achievable. Here’s one such design.
I’ve done a few series of sketches featuring thin black borders and outlines (see Sunday sketches #203, #204 and #205, and #225, #226 and #227). But in most cases, they’re straight lines (relatively easy to piece) or circular curves that are wide enough to piece (say 1/2″ to 1″ wide).
In this design, the lines are much thinner (1/8″) and curvy and overlapping and I knew just from looking at them that I could/would never make a quilt like this. The potential for inaccuracy and subpar results would annoy me too much. But I really like the design – it’s very Art Nouveau, and reminds me a little of artwork from William Morris (without the flowers) or Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Here are a few more versions.
The previous designs are an 8×8 arrangement of a single block that’s alternately rotated by 180 degrees. There’s also vertical and horizontal sashing (also 1/8″ wide) between the blocks. The next design is all that but without the horizontal sashing.
With so many elements, there are lots of ways to arrange the blocks and use colour to highlight different shapes. Here they are without the sashing.
You can also add colours. I tried this next design in peach, but it looks a little… umm… intestinal haha. All those fleshy bendy bits!
And back to the version with sashing, featuring 3 colours (plus black)…
…or a different arrangement of colours…
And that layout with only vertical sashing…
…so, there are lots of options.
And after taking Jenny’s online class, skinny curves like this now seem totally manageable. You can see a pic on my Instagram of the first skinny inset strip that I sewed during the workshop. How good is that?! It was much less complicated than I was expecting, and really quick and easy. (I’m not being paid to say this haha, I just really enjoyed the class and am excited at the idea of incorporating skinny inset strips into future designs.)
So now that I’ve expanded my sewing skills a smidge, I’ll feel more confident incorporating skinny inset curves into my designs. Yay!