I’m excited to be part of the blog hop for Sylvia Schaefer’s new book, The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook! I started following Sylvia’s work right around the time she won Craftsy’s Pattern Designer Fellowship in 2017, and met her in person at her Quilt Market booth later that year. Sylvia is a scientist and I’m an engineer, so I’m particularly fond of her science quilts. There are even a few science-themed patterns in the book like the two pictured below — River of Fire and Northern Lights!
I have quite a few quilt books in my personal library, but when it comes to actually reading/using them, I tend to be a skimmer — just taking a pattern here or a tip there. But The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook is one that I read literally from start to finish! There are several great patterns included, but even better are the thorough discussions of 8 different negative space design techniques.
As a modern quilter, I’m definitely familiar with the concept of negative space…but haven’t actually used it a lot in my quilts! I was pretty excited to try out a few of Sylvia’s techniques to get my creative juices flowing in a new direction. One thing I really enjoyed was seeing how she often started with a classic quilt block before turning it into something new, so I took a similar approach and dove in.
To create a base to work from, I repeated the block several times, which brings out a nice secondary pattern in addition to the core block. The Irish chain-like element piqued my interest, so I recolored the block from my original above to emphasize those diagonal lines of squares.
(Note: I design primarily in Adobe Illustrator, for those who might be wondering!)
I knew I wanted to play around with the ideas of “Removing Elements” and “Disintegration” — Sylvia discusses these two related concepts in her book. First, I cropped the design so that the blocks are off-center, and the edges are all partial blocks:
After that, I was curious to see what would happen if I really highlighted the Irish Chain structure. I chose the lightest color in the block as the background color and stripped away (almost) everything except single block, with the chain motif extended from each corner:
Ah ha! Now we’re getting somewhere! I think this could stand on its own as a finished design and be quite successful. It’s simple yet dynamic, classic but also modern. There are so many good options for quilting, but since free motion skills are not my forte I’d probably stick with a walking foot design. A spiral centered on the block might look really neat!
But I still wanted to explore Sylvia’s disintegration technique, so I kept going. I could have returned to my original image of repeating blocks and started to remove certain elements…but since I already had the design shown above, I chose to approach it from the opposite direction and began adding bits and pieces of each block back into the design.
And here’s the result! I really like how this turned out too. The scattered elements of the disintegrated blocks feel free and fun. It makes me think of confetti! For the quilting on this one, I think it’d be fun to quilt the shape of the blocks across the entire top, so that you see an echo of the original repeated block in the quilting. Or a swirly, all-over design would emphasize the confetti idea!
I hope to turn one of these into an actual quilt sometime soon. Which do you like better? Leave me a comment to let me know! Next Wednesday, Marcy 27, I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a digital copy of The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook. (You can also pick up the book anytime from Sylvia’s shop!)
Update: Random.org gave me #1. Rosalind is the winner of the digital book copy!
There are several other quilters sharing their negative space designs and I’m loving all the different ideas — the possibilities really are endless! Check out these blogs for more inspiration:
March 11 – C&T Publishing – blog tour kickoff
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 (you’re here!)
March 21 – Sarah Goer – Sarah Goer Quilts
March 22 – Sylvia Schaefer – Flying Parrot Quilts – tour wrap-up