When I sit down to sketch (on paper or in EQ8), unless I have something specific in mind, I’ll often start by playing with old favourites – like a star, or some triangles, or maybe even some curves. It’s like a warm-up, to get my brain thinking about shapes and colours.
This week’s series of sketches came from a star block. But I’m not going to show you the original star block I came up with. Why not? Because it’s boring!
One of the advantages of using Electric Quilt 8 for designing quilts is how easily you can manipulate single blocks. Often I’ll design a block that’s a bit meh, but rotating it, flipping it, or colouring it differently can create something way more interesting. Those sorts of manipulations are much more time-consuming (and paper-consuming!) to do with my gel pen and dot pad.
So I’ll walk you through a bunch of designs that came out of the original boring star block. The boring star block was created from 4 copies of a single mini-block, and it’s this mini-block that I’ve manipulated to create a bunch of new designs.
Here’s the first one. The block is laid out in a 6 x 6 grid, with the blocks all facing the same direction. The two-colour palette (not counting white) helps you to differentiate the single blocks.
Still facing the same direction, but now the pink blocks are in a reverse colourway – the pink and white are switched. It’s a small change but it definitely gives the two designs a slightly different feel.
Switching back to a single colour (black) subtly changes the design again. This one makes me think of sprigs of vegetation out in the desert.
Rotating the blocks introduces a new variation. In the design below, the blocks are rotated 90 degrees with respect to their neighbours. The alternating colours help to create some new shapes and movement.
Adding in a third colour (and a border, just for fun) helps to distinguish those spiky internal shapes from the angled border shapes. The blue and pink shapes now feel like two interconnected webs, controlling those spiky black shapes (which have 8 ‘legs’!).
Or the black shapes can come to the foreground, by colouring in the squares that have thus far remained hidden. This also streamlines the blue and pink border shapes, which actually helps to refine its movement (to my mind, anyway).
We can thicken up the blue and pink by switching out the border shapes for the spiky-background shapes instead. We can still see the diagonal movement of the colours, but we get to see more of the colours too.
You can get a better idea of where those squares came from (and how they contribute to the actual construction of a quilt from this design) if we colour them differently. I think this design might be my favourite of this series.
Or switch blue to white, and add a coloured border to make the pink feel like it’s a background rather than a foreground colour.
You could embrace white as a background colour, and use chunky rinds of colour to separate the black spikes.
Or take the focus off the black spikes altogether.
But I kinda like the spikes, so here they’re the focus again. This pared-back design doesn’t need any half-rectangle triangles like the other designs – they could be replaced with solid rectangles here. Much quicker and easier! I think this version would look great in a scrappy palette or a limited palette with scrappy fabrics.
Using a single colour can help to show the construction of a single block. There’s so much going on in this version that I think it needs a super-limited palette to not be too overwhelming (for me, anyway).
And, last but not least, a totally different version that just goes to show the versatility (and serendipity) you can create by changing only block rotation and colour placement.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; I have so many more variations of this design that I haven’t shared here. I just wanted to show how easy it is to make large changes to an overall design by tweaking little bits along the way.
So, each block is constructed using two squares, two half-rectangle triangles, one half-square triangle, and two triangle-in-a-square units. Depending on your colour placement though, you might not need some of these units.
This week’s sketch uses the same motif as last week’s, but with an added row of blocks and a different colour scheme.
For some reason, I prefer this design arranged vertically rather than horizontally, but of course it would work either way. And it can be coloured in a million different ways. Here are just a few examples….
These first two versions highlight the vertical lines between blocks.
That can be taken a step further by iterating through a few different colour pairings for each column of blocks. This one’s one of my favourites. I feel like the big vertical zig-zags are much more obvious in the second and fourth columns than in the others. Can you see what I mean?
Or we can use colour to ignore the delineation between the columns:
In hindsight, I think all of these designs would’ve worked better if I’d extended the blocks to the top and bottom of the quilt top, rather than having a white border all the way around. An easy fix, but not one I could be bothered going back to correct right now 🙂
And, finally, a horizontal layout just to show you what it looks like.
That design cycles through three colours from top to bottom – green, black, white – and I used six rows of shapes to ensure that the top and bottom of the quilt top both ended up being green. It’s a fairly busy, energetic design as a result! Not necessarily one of my favourites, but I still liked it enough to post.
Like last week’s design, this one’s all flying geese units and half-rectangle triangles (or triangle-in-a-square units).
How about a slightly spicy design to follow last week’s palate cleanser?
This started out as a hand-drawn sketch on my Rhodia dot pad, as a mix between flying-geese triangles and half-rectangle triangles (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: triangles are so versatile!). I wanted the lines from each flying geese block to lead into the adjacent flying geese blocks, creating a large zig-zag. And at the same time, the straight lines from the half-rectangle triangles would connect to the facing block.
I recreated the design in EQ8 so that I could play with colour. There are quite a few ways to combine just three colours in this design, each of which give it a slightly different feel.
And, of course, my usual favourite combo of red, pink and white.
I feel like the light pink against the red gives a bit of a transparency feel, and helps to make those large zig-zags – which carve a path down the page – a little clearer.
The design doesn’t necessarily have to flow vertically down the page; it would work just as well horizontally.
These designs could be made into quilts using just two blocks: a flying geese block and a triangle in a square block (or two half-rectangle triangles instead). Pretty straightforward, but with striking results.