Australia got a new prime minister this week, so it feels like the perfect time for a bright and happy multicoloured design.
This design is a single block on repeat. Although the block is made up of a few different elements – which I’ll talk about later – I’ve stuck with only a few colours per block. I wanted to emphasise certain shapes, and not let the whole design get over-busy. One way to reduce busy-ness is to use the same colour in certain parts of all blocks – in this case, using white for that internal octagon in each block.
Here’s an even sparser colourway that matches the internal octagon to the background colour (white):
The centre of each block is a square that could fit just about any other type of block, but here I’ve used the sawtooth star – one of my favourites, and a traditional block that I come back to again and again. Sawtooth stars have several elements (the internal square and the outer half-square triangles), and they too can be coloured differently to create another variation of this design.
These blocks remind me a little of storm-at-sea blocks, as all the lines around the central square in each block meet the lines in adjacent blocks, creating movement that draws your eye round and round.
I added even more movement by colouring some of the shapes that emerge between adjacent blocks. (And added a border so your eye has somewhere to rest.)
The outer points of the blocks are positioned in such a way that shifting blocks along a bit still lets them touch by their tips. So I can stack them in tilting instead of vertical columns. Some of the movement from the earlier versions is gone, replaced by movement in new directions.
And the blocks in each row can be connected again, as before.
These blocks are created using a bunch of basic units. Each block is a 16-patch, with the central 4 patches merged to create a larger square that fits the sawtooth star. The 4 corner patches are half-square triangles, and the 4 sides (comprising 2 patches each) are triangle-in-a-square blocks (facing each other with their points touching).
Pretty much any block could be squeezed into that inner square – even a mini version of the same block. I like sawtooth stars cos they’re simple and easy to make, but also just cos I love the way they look.
I could’ve kept iterating this design to try and create one with a bit more negative space, but then you’d lose a lot of that movement, I think. And not every design needs to be ‘modern’ in that way… this one feels a bit more ‘contemporary’ than ‘modern’ (although don’t get me started on how to differentiate between the two…). It definitely has traditional leanings, and next week I’ll share variations that take the design even more in that direction.
I’m not gonna make a big deal about this week being Sunday sketch #300, but… #300! I say it every 100 sketches or so, but I never thought this weekly habit would last this long. Thank you for following along with me!
So this week’s sketches use a motif that appeared in last week’s sketch: a square within a square. Not the start-of-an-economy-block kind of square-within-a-square, where the inner square is set on point in relation to the outer square. Just a regular small square taking up one quarter of a big square. Anyhoo…
So I decided to play with that shape some more, cos it’s kinda cool just on its own.
In these designs, I’ve laid out a 12 x 12 grid in which the square-within-a-square units alternate in rotation – half of the units have the small square in the top right, while the other half have the small square in the bottom left.
Sometimes with really simple, repetitive motifs like this, I like to crowd the design with loads of them so you start to see movement and secondary shapes and recurring lines, etc. But it’s also nice to pare them right back, so you get a really simplistic representation instead.
And then with scale again.
And then with other types of movement.
I didn’t play with colour, but that’s obviously something else you could vary. And there are opportunities to introduce transparency by using a colour on the small squares that combines the colours of the adjacent squares.
This series of designs led to an entirely different series of related designs that I’ll post soon. Oh, and those designs led to other ones too. These are versatile shapes, and it’s really easy to make small tweaks to create large variations.
But back to this week’s designs. They could all be made into quilts using just squares and rectangles. And because of the repetition, they’d really suit chain piecing. It’s probably the sort of top you could cut and piece in a day (famous last words!).
Note: There are definite similarities between some versions of this week’s design and the Thrive Quilt by Suzy Quilts. Whereas I use a 4-patch square-in-a-square block, Suzy’s pattern uses a 9-patch that takes that block one layer further (basically surrounding a square-in-a-square with two more sides). We both alternate the blocks to create a zig-zag effect, and we both make the small squares a feature. But I started with a different orientation and I’ve used colouring in a different way (alternating adjacent blocks). Despite the similarities, I’ve posted these versions to show the iteration between last week’s designs and next week’s.
This week’s sketch feels like it’s related to Sunday sketch #284, but I worked on them at different times and with different starting points. But they both feature half-rectangle triangles aligned in one direction, interspersed with squares (small and large).
I really like this type of design, because having lots of different shapes means lots of lines creating movement: vertically, horizontally and diagonally. It also means lots of colouring options!
In the previous version, I’ve used colour to combine some shapes: the green shapes are a small square combined with the centre of a kite-in-a-square unit. You can see all the different shapes more clearly in the next version, where I’ve coloured them all separately.
The use of colour can create interesting secondary shapes, which can push other parts of the design to the foreground or background.
The possibilities are endless!
This sketch could be made into a quilt really easily using kite-in-a-square units, squares and rectangles. The hard part would be coming up with a palette and deciding how to use it!