Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Playing with Tessellation

Today I would like to design a quilt pattern that tessellates. (If you need a reminder of what tessellation is see my 17 April 2010 post.)

What if I start with this simple block that I created using a nine-patch grid?
What if I take 4 of this block, rotate them, and then combine them?

This is an interesting pinwheel, but it won't tessellate. There are three repeated shapes filling the space; there needs to be just one.

What if I make a second block by reversing the colors in the original block?
What if I replace 2 of the blocks in the pinwheel with this new block?

This will tessellate because the white shapes and the green shape are identical.

What if I repeat 4 of the pinwheel blocks and combine them to make a pattern?

This is definitely a tessellating pattern, one shape repeated over and over.

What if I rotate the 4 pinwheel blocks and then combine them to make a super-pinwheel block?

Is this a tessellation?

If I put 2 super-pinwheel blocks together, I find that the green and white patterns are identical. This is a tessellation.

Can I improve this?

What if I change my 2 original blocks by introducing a triangle into the bottom left corner?
When I put them together, the pinwheel is only slightly different.  Will it make a difference?

Yes it does. There is an extra jig in the pattern making it livelier and more interesting to look at.

That this is made using 2 very simple blocks amazes me.

For more tessellation see My Posts by Subject in the sidebar on the right and click on Tessellation.


  1. Cool. I really like that last block. It is amazing what some simple shapes repeated can do!

  2. Stephanie

    I found that quilt design doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. You can do some wonderful things with simple shapes that fool people into thinking that it must have been difficult and complicated.