I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled post for today to bring you a a few of my thoughts on designing quilts. Jessica from Quilty Habit is currently featuring this topic on her Sewing With Certainty series, so I thought I’d jump in with a few words of my own. :–)
First off, I love designing quilts. I’ll either tweak a commercial pattern (like my Baby French Roses Quilt), or design something original if the mood strikes. Next to machine quilting, I think designing is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt because the possibilities are endless. However, that’s also one of the downsides to designing – sometimes there are too many possibilities that it’s hard to stay focused!
Changing up the color placement and tweaking the borders was a fun way to make it my own.
I’ve recently learned that in quilt-making, good design usually trumps good workmanship. Yes, it’s the best of both worlds to have both in a quilt. However, if the resurgence in popularity of modern Gee’s Bend style quilts are any indication, these amazing quilts gained their fame because of their bold and graphic design, not because of their craftsmanship. I will take a well designed quilt over a perfectly stitched one any day! 🙂
Gee’s Bend Quilt, picture courtesy of WhyQuiltsMatter.org
So where do you start when designing? How about with the basics? Say you want to make a quilt from squares. Start off with a any size square you like (charm packs and layer cakes are a great place to start since they are already precut). Set them side by side in a 6×7 grid and you can make a simple quilt that looks like this:
Christa’s Quick and Easy Charm Pack Quilt
This is a quick, easy and fun design that took almost no thought and effort to put together. So how do you jump off from there into making a truly exciting design? Well, what if you took the same idea of using squares, and threw in a bit of negative space? Then perhaps you could come up with something like this:
“Busy Hands” quilt construction, using Bungle Jungle precuts
This is very neat and orderly, but play around the spacing and orientation of your blocks to create a totally different and modern look:
Alternate Arrangement – I didn’t use this one but I think I need to make a similar quilt sometime!
Let’s get back to our simple squares again and go off in a different direction. Try using larger squares connected with sashing and cornerstones:
EQ7 design sketch by Christa Watson
Now, what if you limited your color palette to just one or two colors and put sashing around each and every block? Notice how much of a graphic punch is added when the focal point (the color) really contrasts from the background as in Sea of Squares:
Sea of Squares by Christa Watson
One last thing to try: take your squares, surround half of them with solid frames, and resize the rest to match. Ditch the cornerstones and remove few of the blocks to create more negative space. Isn’t this a fantastic modern design?:
Love Squared, picture by Lindsey Weight and shared with permission
The beautiful quilt above was designed and made by my talented friend Lindsey from Inspiring Creations – and no – she didn’t design it based on my examples. I actually started with her design and worked backwards while writing this post. I pulled examples of my own quilts to illustrate how I would go about designing a quilt like this. Click here for her free quilt pattern!
Now I invite you to play around with other shapes and see what you can come up with. Next on my agenda: playing with HST’s (half-square triangles)!
So many design possibilities… “sew” little time!