Monday, December 15, 2014

Finding Designs

I design my own quilts.  Have you ever tried it?  Of course you have.  You may have used a published pattern, but if you chose your own color palette you have taken a baby step into designing.   There are many ways to design, but here are a few:

*Try mixing two standard blocks.  It is amazing what you can come up with.

*Use a one or more of a familiar block and place them creatively in space.

*Add something new and different to your block.

*Make a grid of triangles on paper and fill them in with color.  See what designs you can create.  Substitute fabrics for the colors.

*Try appliqué.  There are tons of ways to use almost any beautiful shape.

Look around you and see the designs in your environment: flowers, clouds, fences, trees, leaves, wrought iron gates, houses, wildlife, floors, rugs, wallpaper, etc.  What tools do you need?  Only pencil and paper, a sprinkle of imagination, and a pinch of inspiration.  Optional aids might be the computer and crayons or colored pencils.

I had the wonderful good fortune to take a cruise through the Mediterranean in 2009.  Every surface is heavily decorated in the whole region from southern Italy to North Africa.  There are mosaics, sculptures, frescos, paintings and architecture.  Magnificent!  I took many pictures that now reside in the quilting folder on my computer for reference, and I look at them often.  Here are some examples:

Mosaic for patchwork and border
Overall plan for a quilt.

Love the black and white detail. 
I have incorporated the black and white arch idea in the quilt I am currently working on.

Black and white and Pumpkin Seed
Look at that background.  It is a beautiful, popular FMQ design.

A bowl - whole cloth or appliqué
Mosaic compass with extras

A door with FMQ designs
Look at other peoples' work as well, but find your own way.  It is not cool to just copy someone else's designs precisely unless you buy their pattern or take their class.  You can use elements from different sources and put them together in your own way.  Caveat:  Don't mistake my meaning here.  You can learn a lot by taking a class, but take that new technique or idea home and incorporate it into your own creations.

My greatest leap into quilt design came from doing Rhapsody quilts (Ricky Tims) and Spiral quilts (RaNae Merrill).  When you design you truly start from scratch and end up with something that is uniquely yours.  It does not provide instant gratification, but it is so much fun.

TIP:  Reach out, stretch your intellect, try something new.  Grow.  You may not think you are an artist now, but you can become one.  It is up to you.


  1. Good advice and beautiful photos for inspiration!

  2. It is lovely to see how other people find inspiration for their designs. I also really like to pull inspiration from architecture, and you have fabulous images here!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I too, see inspiration everywhere I go. I try to take photos when I can or draw on scraps of paper.

  3. I love it! Inspiration truly is all around us. I only recently designed my first quilt, and it was an amazing experience. It was so fun to create something completely on my own.

  4. I glad to hear about your designing your quilt. It opens up all kinds of new opportunities. Best wishes for great future designs. Thanks for stopping by.