Today is my stop on The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook Blog tour. The Quilters Negative Space Handbook is a new book by Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts. To celebrate the launch of the book, I’m going to talk a bit about how I design negative space in my quilts, specifically Picnic Petals. If you’re intrigued, you’ll definitely want to pick up the book as Sylvia reviews in depth many techniques to help you design your own quilts with interesting negative spaces.
Be sure you don’t miss the ebook GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!
Before we get into negative space, I wanted to share that I first met Sylvia when she was awarded the 2017 Craftsy Quilt Designer Fellowship—I had the honor of passing the baton down from the previous year. Her debut booth at Fall Quilt Market in 2017 was beautiful and I was so proud of her!
Last month, I received a review copy of her new book. The book is really easy to understand as Sylvia describes key principles that help break down the process of modern quilt design. Each chapter focuses on a negative space design principle (8 in total), such as scattering or extending lines, and includes a project to illustrate and practice that technique.
Over the years, I have used most of the eight principles that Sylvia covers in the book. Today, I’m going to illustrate how I’ve used removing elements and disintegration to design my Picnic Petals quilt. Picnic Petals is a modern interpretation of the traditional Flowering Snowball block.
When designing Picnic Petals, I was inspired by pinwheels and flowers—objects that reminded me of movement. In order to achieve movement in a mostly two dimensional quilt, I deconstructed the blocks. Sylvia reviews this in the “Disintegration” chapter and explains this strategy nicely as “it implies that some force is causing your blocks to come apart”.
I imaged a big gust of wind removing the most vulnerable petals along the perimeter.
I removed most, but not all, of the petals along the top and left side of the quilt. By leaving part of the block, or disintegrating the blocks rather than removing them altogether, it left an interesting border. To place greater emphasis on the border, I cropped the design so that the edge of the petals touched the edge of the quilt, removing the extra negative space (or quilt-top background) that I felt was a bit distracting to the overall design.
I then moved on to applying color to both the petals and negative space. When doing so, I considered the “Rule of Thirds”, another design composition concept that Sylvia included in her book. The Rule of Thirds is a guideline meant to help designers and photographers place elements in their work so that it is pleasing to the eye. When using this concept, you essentially want the focal point of your design to be on the horizontal and vertical lines that divide the space into thirds.
I focused on “coloring in” the majority of the negative space that fell within in the right and bottom columns. The Rule of Thirds isn’t a meant to be a “law”, but rather a guideline.
Want to make your own Picnic Petals?
Use my color scheme or design your own! Included in the Picnic Petals pattern are detailed fabric requirements, tested instructions and diagrams, lots of tips & tricks for piecing curves, cutting layout diagrams to help you cut your fabric AND coloring sheets for each of the sizes (Throw, Twin and Queen) so you can customize your own Picnic Petals. Get your copy of the pattern here.
Inspired to design your own modern quilts using negative space?
I encourage you to pick up Sylvia’s book, The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook. There is something for every quilter in this book—from ideas to design your own modern quilts to 8 projects with in-depth piecing instructions to how to decide how to quilt your piece (did I mention that Sylvia is also a quilting motif master?).
Be sure to follow along with the blog book tour:
March 11 – C&T Publishing
March 12 – Nicole Neblett – Mama Love Quilts
March 13 – Christa Watson – Christa Quilts
March 14 – Jessica Caldwell – Desert Bloom Quilting
March 15 – Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill – Whole Circle Studio
March 18 – Cassandra Ireland Beaver – The (Not So) Dramatic Life
March 19 – Yvonne Fuchs – Quilting Jetgirl
March 20 – Sarah Ruiz – Saroy
March 21 – Sarah Goer – Sarah Goer Quilts
March 22 – Sylvia Schaefer – Flying Parrot Quilts
… and now, for the GIVEAWAY!
Enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of The Quilters Negative Space Handbook (sponsored by and emailed directly from C+T Publishing).
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post to enter. Make sure your contact info is in your profile or that you leave your name and either email address/Instagram handle in the comment. (I need a way to get in touch with you if you win!)
2. In your comment, answer: Have you ever tried playing with negative space in a quilt? Was it exciting, scary or both?
You have until 8pm EST on Sunday, March 17, 2019
One lucky winner for each prize will be selected by True Random Number Generator.
GIVEAWAY CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: Ann. Thank you to all who left a comment!
Good luck and go make something great,
I thought it was uncomfortable having a lot of negative space in a quilt when I tried it. The process you describe makes it so much easier to work with negative space!
I’ve tried it before, and it always scares me a bit. I think this book would be a huge confidence booster!
I have never tried playing with negative space in my quilts, but am always drawn to these designs.
I have to admit I don’t have a good understanding of negative space!
I love the concept of using negative space in quilt design, but have yet to try it. But, I will!
Your reminders & design tips on use of negative space are helpful from the aspect of total quilt design & our efforts to make our creations more interesting & current. It’s so hard to resist “just jumping in” but these considerations make the design process deeper and more fun.
I haven’t really made a modern quilt, but I have tried to do things in backgrounds and borders of traditional quilts and it is scary to figure out what to do with all that space. I am feeling more confident over time. Thank you for the opportunity to win.
The petal design intrigues me, truthfully I’m being drawn to more modern quilt designs. Being the old time quilter I’m branching out however, I’m lacking confidence in myself that I could make something so beautiful . If I don’t try then I’ll never know. Thank you for your tips on creating negative space with a positive design.
I have designed a few quilts with negative space. I find the hardest part is figuring out how to quilt it! @quilts.by.stacy
I have never played with negative space. I always follow patterns but really want to test my creativity by trying to design my own quilt. This book would help me I’m sure!
I have not thought about negative space explicitly but I realize that I have made quilts with prominent use of negative space. I would love to learn more so I can use it more intentionally. I am b_plus_q on IG.
I’ve used negative space in quilts in a random fashion. Would love to learn more, especially about deconstructing patterns.
I always consider negative space when I’m designing. It’s a fun thing to play with because one can not truly appreciate the positive aspects of a design if one can’t recognize the negative aspects.
I have looked at negative space in my quilts. I find the experience fun and exciting.
Nope never used negative space. It’s an interesting concept though. The book looks good!
I have only recently tried negative space because I’ve seen others use it so effectively and I really like all that blank canvas to quilt on. Your tips and Sylvia’s will be a great help – thanks to you both.
I have done a bit of playing with negative space. Nothing too fancy. It was both exciting and scary. For me, starting with smaller projects and working up to bigger ones helps. This looks like a great book!
I have tried playing with negative space but can’t say I was totally happy with the results. Should have thought more before I started.
This subject is fascinating to me. I’ve tried it a bit in small improv wall pieces, but never in this way. I am quite thrilled to experiment further!
I find negative space frightening as there’s so much undefined quilting to do there! Love your pattern. Thanks for sharing.
I’m following this blog hop to learn more about negative space in quilting. Thanks for sharing your quilt!
I have never tried it but it sounds interesting. I would like to try it.
Very nice quilt. I would like to try this. Havent done playing with negative space yet.
I’m new to quilting, but have found my passion. I’m not sure if I’ve played with negative space. I need to read the book to find out!
I’m also new to quilting and the negative space concept looks interesting