Is it cheating to post a Sunday sketch for the first time after I’ve made a quilt from it? (I guess not really, since I make the rules haha!)
I designed this sketch awhile ago, when planning what three quilts I’d contribute to ‘The Before Times’, an exhibition at the Wangaratta Art Gallery in Victoria, Australia, from 12 November to 18 December 2022.
The exhibition is curated by Tara Glastonbury (@stitchandyarn) and features work from six artists. We were each free to interpret the theme of ‘The Before Times’ in our own way. I thought about geometry and going back to the most basic of shapes: triangles, rectangles and ellipses. I designed each quilt around a single shape, and this week’s sketch is the basis of the ‘square’ quilt (which I’ll post about in more detail later).
I’ve talked before about how imposing constraints on designing can actually be helpful. When you’re allowed to move in any direction, indecision can leave you standing still. But when you can only go in a specific direction, it can be easier to move forward.
Squares are the most basic of shapes in patchwork, and there are a million (or more!) quilt designs that use only squares to great effect. It took me awhile to come up with something interesting that I felt like I hadn’t seen before, then even more time to find a colour palette I liked.
I love how the squares look like those crocheted squares that interlock at their edges.
The actual quilt that I made looks a little different – I added some asymmetrical borders and used a different colour palette. The design works well in a lot of different colourways – basically any four colours that go together but have sufficient contrast so that adjacent colours don’t blend into one another too much.
I always have a bit of fun using the ‘Randomize’ feature in Electric Quilt 8… more often than not, the output is a bit yuck, but occasionally I find a colour combo that I can tweak.
This quilt design can be made into a quilt using big squares and small squares. I actually sewed long strips together then subcut them to make the outer edges of each block (the alternating small squares). The same pairs of colours appear throughout, so that was a much faster way of doing it.
I called the quilt based on this sketch ‘Tetrapacked’, as a nod to the basic shape. I’m not sharing too much about it online yet, because I’ve also submitted it to QuiltCon 2023. So if you want to see it, you can head to the Wangaratta Art Gallery to see ‘The Before Times’ exhibition 🙂
So, here’s a funny story… I designed this week’s Sunday sketch a few years ago, and loved it so much (SO MUCH!) that I held back on posting it so I could make it into a quilt first. Often I’ll get excited about a design and fall down a rabbit hole of fabric selecting and online ordering… and then I lose interest (it’s the paradox of choice). But with this one, I actually made it!
Here’s the sketch (check out the acid yellow!)…
And here’s the actual quilt!
It’s a little hard to tell in that pic, but I bound the quilt in the acid yellow. Thanks to Valerie of Sweet Gum Quilting for the horizontal 1/2″ straight-line quilting, which I love.
So anyway, after I bound the quilt, I packed it away so I could take a proper photo eventually… and then forgot all about it. Oops. Which is kinda crazy, cos I still LOVE this design. It’s so simple, yet it works so well with a huge range of palettes.
With a dark background…
…and a light one.
This is a 5 x 5 block layout with a 5-colour palette, and each block contains three elements (the middle square, the star arms, and the background squircle). That combination means that each colour can be used once per row and per column in each of the three elements. Although if you look closely enough, you’ll see that I had to break that rule in a few places.
Including white in the 5-colour palette means that a few stars don’t have a background squircle. I like how that opens up the design a bit and adds some negative space for the eye to rest. (The sashing between the blocks helps with that too.)
You can see that despite all the possible block permutations (3 elements x 5 colours), there are still a few blocks that are repeated in the previous versions. I tried again with the colour placement to avoid repetition, but it’s not easy! These next two versions feel a smidge ‘heavier’ to me, but maybe the larger number of unique blocks just makes the design seem busier?
Of course, you could avoid the difficulty of colour placement by using fewer colours and going with just two blocks in an alternating layout.
I also like alternating the ‘full’ star blocks with the ‘bare’ star blocks, which lightens the design a bit more.
I know I’ve only used solid colours in these variations, but I think this design is one that would work really well with prints, particularly a coordinating range of fabrics.
This week’s sketch could be made into a quilt using quarter-circle (or drunkard’s path) units, triangle-in-a-square units (or half-rectangle triangles), squares, and sashing. I know a lot of people don’t like using sashing, but I like how it opens up a quilt design and lets the blocks breathe a little. OK, that sounds weird, but basically quilts feel less crowded to me when they have sashing.
Anyway, I’m not sure I’ve ever re-made the same quilt design before, but I’m very tempted to make another one of these quilts. It was awhile ago that I made it, but I’m pretty sure it came together quickly, as there are only a few basic shapes you need to make. As usual for me, the longest part was deciding on the colour palette.
This design is a little like last week’s – check out those bow-ties hiding in the middle – and even a bit like Sunday sketch #314. It’s got the same vertical lines and those large half-square triangles creating diagonal lines.
I’ve coloured the shapes in a plaid-ish way, but that still leaves lots of room for variation. Changing up the colours also affects what secondary shapes emerge – although I see large diamonds in most of these designs.
And here’s a different colourway. I realise as I look at this one that there’s a slight mistake in my colouring – can you see it? I didn’t colour the hot orange shapes in the same way as the others; I’ve missed filling in the small HSTs at the very tips of the shapes. I made the same mistake in the first version, too. Ah well!
This week’s designs could be made into quilts using large and small HSTs, plus small squares (next to the small HSTs). As there’s a limited palette and repeated shapes, it would suit chain-piecing (as well as methods that make more than one HST at a time).