Choosing a design is the first step in making a quilt. It is also one of the most important – the design of any quilt is what makes it outstanding. If you are about to begin your first quilt and are having difficulty choosing the design, decide first whether you would rather use a traditional design or an original one. For the traditional designs you may find examples and inspirations in numerous books about quiltmaking, quilt pattern catalogues or museums and exhibition halls.
Quiltmaking is an activity that offers exiting possibilities for the use of colour and design. As a quiltmaker, you will deal with bits of fabric as if they were paint, and work with the sculptural effects of quilting as they relate you your design. Fortunately, you will have ample opportunity to decide (and to change your mind about) how would you like your quilt to look.
One of the great advantages of quiltmaking is that you can envision and then draft a design, cut out the pieces, and then lay them out to see how they look before you begin sewing your quilt. If the effect is not pleasing to the eye, you can rearrange the pieces in a variety of ways.
As part of a room’s furnishings, a quilt should either blend in with the colours in the room or pick up and accent certain colours. Multicolour patchwork tends to blend with almost every colour, as will a design composed of colours in the same tonal range. That is, a quilt made up of medium tones of red, orange and purple will create an overall blended effect that will go with medium tones of almost any other colour. Adding a bright colour to such a quilt, however, will make that colour the focal point of the design.
Consider colour values when you plan your quilt. Bright colours attract the eye immediately when they are placed next to softer ones. the best way to delineate a pattern is to juxtapose bright colours with neutral ones, or dark colours with light ones.
Since, traditionally, quilts make use of colour and print combinations that you might consider bizarre by any other standards, you will find your colour sensibility broadening as you begin planning quilt designs and working with cloth.