Basic Design for Beginning Quilters: Texture (pt 1)

April 1, 2013

rocket-scienceIf you’ve been reading my work for a while, you know my “spiel” right?


I really, really believe it’s true. It takes work but it can be learned. Sometimes it’s like becoming a PhD rocket scientist work! Sometimes it’s just learning how to light some cardboard on fire work. Either way, you get to send something into the sky!

Once in a while I run into quilters who look annoyed with me and say, “Yeah – that basic design stuff is for the art quilters. I like traditional quilts.” Well. I have news for you. Traditional quilts ARE works of art! Just a few little tidbits of design knowledge can help lift even the most basic of traditional quilts off the ground and into the proverbial sky.

Today’s Basic Design tip?
Learn to understand


ACTUAL TEXTURE – THE WAY IT FEELS TO THE TOUCH. When we walk into a quilt shop we choose the traditional quilting cottons. Yum – I love quilting cottons! The texture of quilting cottons is smooth and crisp and wonderfully soft at the same time. I love the way cotton flattens out under a steam iron, don’t you?

VISUAL TEXTURE – THE PATTERN YOU SEE ON THE SURFACE. This is what I want to show you. Take a simple nine patch  and say you want to make a blue scrappy quilt. You shoe very carefully and make sure every blue you buy is a different pattern. But really look at this block. All the blues are the same color of dark blue with a tone on tone print. The scale of each print is almost exactly the same. If you look at the block from two feet away you don’t even notice that they are different fabrics. Go ahead and squint at the picture – it gives you the idea right?


What happens if you vary the VISUAL TEXTURE of each fabric? Some are swirly and bright and there is even a spot of a different color (gasp) thrown in. Things begin to sparkle just a bit, without compromising the idea of scrappy and blue!


Now, wasn’t that easy? One little design tidbit and things are beginning to get interesting. Come back tomorrow for the next tidbit.


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  • Reply
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    […] Today we have a very quick little lesson on COLOR. Don’t worry – it’s easy. (If you missed the first two here is Part 1 – Shape and Part 2 – Texture.) […]

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    […] Today I will belatedly continue my little crusade to convince traditional quilters that design IS relevant to all kinds of quilts. If you missed my blathering on about why I believe that learning the basic elements of art is worthwhile and possible you can read Part 1 – Texture. […]

  • Reply
    April 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you! Right now I have just enough time to read and think about little tidbits just like the one you posted today. You really understand where so many of us are coming from. We want to make time for art every day, but the job/meals/cleaning/errands all get in the way. You are making it very easy to include a little art.

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