Sunday, January 23, 2011

Do You Recognize

This Traditional Block?

Part 1

If you say it's Shoo Fly, then you're right.
If you say it's Snowball, then you're right too. Well, actually its a snowball variation because of the square in the center. But that's being picky, so forget I mentioned it.

This is interesting. These 2 very different traditional blocks have the same outline pattern. How they are colored is what makes them different.

What if you were to try other color combinations, could you come up with other blocks that use the same outline pattern?

This color version seems like an obvious thing to try; it must have been done before by somebody. I wonder if it has a name?

Here's another obvious way to color the block.

The blocks so far all have vertical symmetry, horizontal symmetry, and rotational symmetry. They are also all colored blue and white.

It's time to change that.

This block has vertical symmetry and horizontal symmetry, but it is not the same when it is turned 90 degrees, so it lacks rotational symmetry.
This block is symmetrical about both diagonal axes.

This block, and the one that follows it, is symmetrical about a single diagonal axis.
Neither of these single-axis blocks looks much like a traditional block. So you may be wondering what use are they?
What if you put 4 of the first one together like this? Does this look more traditional?

You can think of this as being the block or you can think of the simpler version as being the block; it doesn't matter. What matters is you now have a design you can use.
What if you put 4 of the second block together like this? I think this looks traditional too.

This version of the block exhibits no symmetry whatsoever.

When you put 4 of them together, the result is this. I think that this is another one that works and looks traditional..

Now it's your turn. What happens when you try coloring this outline pattern?  I'm sure that if you try, you'll find something exciting. When you do I'd love to see it.


  1. Never would have thought you could get so many different and fun possibilities from changing the color in one simple block!

  2. Once again, I am very thankful for showing me tricks and opening up my 'in the box' thinking. I have said a bit of word about you on my blog today. Thank you.

  3. Terry

    Not only are there a lot of possibilities but if you go looking for them you will discover that they are easy to find.

  4. Hillbilly

    Thanks for the mention in your blog.

    Stay tuned to this blog and I hope to show you even more tricks.

  5. Wayne,

    Great exercise ... shows what non-designers can do with just a simple, well known, ordinary tradtional block!

    Wonder how many other blocks are hidden in Shoo Fly. Just when I think i have all the variatins of the basic nine squares of the Nine Patch I need a different one to fit somewhere in a design.

    Judy B

  6. Judy

    Everyone is a designer. There are no non-designers. They are just quilters who have yet to learn that they can design.