Design It! Red & White Quilt Challenge

SewCalGal is hosting a quilt design challenge as part of a Year of Red & White Quilt Challenges. You can read more information about this design challenge and the Year of Red & White Quilt Challenges at SewCalGal’s blog. I encourage you to check out the “Year of” post for a video of the “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts” show displayed in New York City in March of 2011, sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum. Red and white quilts have been a popular theme in quilting for a very long time, and it’s wonderful to see so many of them (615!) in one place.

If you’re interested in designing a quilt for this challenge, you still have a little time. You do NOT have to use EQ to design your quilt – you can use other software or draw it by hand. This is a design only challenge, so a week is plenty of time to create something wonderful! The next challenge is a “make it” challenge, so if red and white quilts appeal to you, you can create your own. Check out the many ways you can participate in these challenges, either by entering or by viewing the entries.

Here is my entry in the Design It! Red & White Quilt Challenge:


When I thought about a red & white quilt, I knew it had to be graphic and it had to work in just two colors. Though we can use different shades of red and white or red & white prints, I knew the design would show better in a linky thumbnail if it were created in solids. I went through my EQ folders looking for something original that I hadn’t shared yet, and came across Sherlock. Yes, I’m talking about Benedict Cumberbatch (which, seriously, is the most awesome name!) and Martin Freeman. Any fans out there? (Silly question, I know.)

I have a habit of noticing shapes and designs on television shows that prompt me to grab a paper and pencil or even fire up my laptop and open EQ. As I was watching Sherlock, I noticed the wallpaper behind their sofa. I paused (isn’t the ability to pause a show wonderful?!) and sketched out the design. I honestly don’t remember if the original design had the stars in it or not. Here are the first two designs in my Sherlock file:

Sherlock 1 Sherlock 2

The first is kind of dumpy looking, while the stars in the second open up the illusion of circles. I like the second, but I knew I wanted just two colors, so I changed it to red and white and adjusted the size of the squares so the points lined up. Here’s the result:

Sherlock 3

I liked it, but I felt it was maybe too simple – not “designed” enough. It is, after all, just a repeated block with pieced sashing. One of the easiest ways to edit a design is to eliminate parts of some of the blocks. I whited out the red rectangles around the outside edges and then, on a whim, whited out the center red rectangles as well. When I put the two images side by side, I definitely preferred the edited one. In the first red and white quilt I noticed tumbler shapes, while the second seemed a little more delicate, almost like a snowflake. The points were more visible without completely losing the circle illusion. Here they are again side by side:

Sherlock 3 Sherlock

This quilt is actually quite easy to construct. The most challenging aspect is the extended triangles, but once you learn the technique it isn’t difficult. As part of the Design It challenge, Island Batiks will choose one design and provide fabric to make it, and maybe even share the free pattern on their website or more! Wouldn’t this look awesome in batiks?!


Anyway, to be eligible for that prize I need to provide the following information: The quilt finishes at 62″ square. It requires 3 1/2 yards of white fabric and 1 3/4 yards of red, plus 1/2 yard for the binding and 4 yards for the backing.

Don’t forget to pop over to SewCalGal and check out the other design entries… and enter one of your own!


Adventures in Design

I won a book on the C&T Publishing blog and it arrived Friday. I only enter drawings for things that I really want to win, so I was thrilled when I got the email. The book is Adventures in Design by Joen Wolfrom, and although I’ve only read (and I do mean read – I have five pages of notes) the first 55 pages so far, I can tell you without hesitation that it’s the best book related to quilting that I own.

There are books about the practical aspects of quilting – how to sew a quarter inch seam, how to make a log cabin block, how to put on a binding – that are useful and necessary. Then there are the books about taking your quilting to the next level. These books are about techniques, color, design and quilting, and they help you elevate a pretty quilt into a work of art. Adventures in Design is in the latter group.

I haven’t taken an art class that taught any aspect of design in… well, since I was in 8th grade. I remember learning about tints and shades. Everything I know (and, despite my obvious eagerness to share everything I know, it’s quite limited) is based on information I’ve picked up in books and magazines. My instincts are good, but my knowledge of the elements and principles of design is vague. This book…

You know how when something clicks for you, it’s like a light bulb going on in your head? Reading this book has been like Christmas. Blink! Blink! Blink! Oh, wow, I get it! That’s why this works/appeals to me/makes me cringe!

The book focuses on elements and principles of design, and not only explains them in terms that are easy to digest, but shows multiple quilt examples. By the cover you’d think that it focuses primarily on art quilts, but geometric pieced quilts are strongly represented as well.

The majority of the the book (about 2/3) focuses on the elements of design – line, direction, shape, color, value, texture, proportion and scale. About a quarter of the book explains the principles of design – unity, repetition, rhythm, harmony, variation, contrast, bridging, proximity, movement, dominance, balance and focus. The last small bit is specifically about designing pieced block type quilts.

After explaining and demonstrating each element, then again after the principles, the book provides a list of activities. They are ways for you to apply what you’ve learned and, most importantly, understand what appeals to you. I especially like that there is an emphasis on personal interest. This books gives you the tools to create, but encourages you use the tools in a way that makes you feel good.

I believe this book applies to any type of quilting. It is accessible to anyone who is interested in creating their own original designs, as well as those who wish to interpret traditional pieced block designs. I also think it can be useful for quilters of various skill levels. You don’t have to become an artist overnight to understand how the elements and principles can elevate your quilts.

By the way – I noticed that this book is also available in electronic form, so if you have a color eBook reader or tablet you might want to check that out. I do NOT recommend purchasing the electronic format if you have a grayscale reader. The color illustrations are critical.

Now, just to clarify – if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t be writing a post about it. I would have mentioned the win and moved on. This review was not solicited.