Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Hard Is It

To Design A New Block?

Part 1

Quilters have been designing blocks for ages. Everything that can be done, has been done. Right? Well of course not! There will always be new blocks. And there is no reason you can't design one.

If I were to tell you that designing new blocks is easy, I imagine you would smile sardonically and say, "Yeah, right." But the truth is, it's not all that hard.

Before we try to design a new block, let's analyse some old ones. Don't let the word analyse frighten you. In this case it just means we are going to take some traditional blocks apart and look at the pieces.

You can't get any more traditional, or any more simple, than a Nine Patch block. Take it apart and what have you got? You've got simple squares.

Ohio Star is another simple block that's built on a ninepatch grid. It's made of squares and quarter-square triangles.

I'm going to stick with blocks that are designed on a ninepatch grid.

Churn Dash is made using squares, half squares, and half-square triangles.

Kansas Star uses diamonds that are colored 2 different ways.

Hidden Star uses squares, half-square triangles, and diamonds. The diamonds in this block are colored a 3rd way.

Road To California is made from half-square triangles, and quarter-square squares.

The traditional blocks that we just looked at are made using some combination of these 6 simple units. The units were arranged on a ninepatch grid to create a pattern.

Can we use these simple units to create new blocks?

What if we take three units at random and arrange them on a ninepatch grid?

This is one possibility.

After 4 or 5 attempts were made at coloring the outline pattern, this showed up. Is it a new block or is it an old block I've never seen before? I don't know. But in either case it is an interesting block, one I'd consider using.

Let's try it again. Let's take 3 random units, arrange them on a ninepatch grid and see what turns up.

This is only one of many ways this block could be colored.

I think you'll agree that there is nothing difficult about this process. You may have to play with the units for a while before you find an outline pattern you like. And you may have to play with colors for a while before you finally make up your mind. But none of this is hard. None of it requires a university education.

Give it a try and let me know how it went.

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