First, we're designing one thing...but making another! So it's really hard to see what the quilt will look like finished. so many times people say to me - but I know what I want in my head, but what comes out is nothing like it!! I know we've all felt that. My answer is that if you want your quilt to be a beautiful and exciting arrangement of shapes, then DESIGN with shapes! cut out the shapes in paper - or in cloth - and arrange and rearrange on a background that resembles (in value at least, also texture) the background of your finished quilt. You don't need to glue them down...just take a photo of every arrangement you come up with and then look at the different ideas simultaneously on your computer...you'll easily see the best one.
Second, we're missing an opportunity to create a design featuring LINE itself...and these can be very beautiful and elegant. Not so easy to reproduce in fabric, you say? ACtually not so difficult as you would think...cut fairly narrow strips - as narrow as you can comfortably work with...but sew very wide seams thus reducing the width of the narrow strips considerably. As I did in this quilt below.
When considering a linear design, begin with a sketch - which obviously you'll design by drawing lines on a piece of paper! If your design is based on a photo or some similar inspiration, then, one you have your sketch, take the photo away! Just focus on the sketch. This is your blueprint. Now: are there any lines you can remove and still retain the idea that inspired you? Get rid of those first. They are surplus to purpose!
Then, see if you can extend, or add, or augment your lines. For example: drawing strong lines that go through much of the design and create a basic structure. Remember that horizontal lines suggest a peaceful scene, vertical ones strength and stability, and diagonal ones (my favorite!) are dynamic. Don't have just one kind of line, but do have a PREPONDERANCE of one kind. If you use diagonals, be sure to have a few that go in the opposite direction...otherwise you'll have all your viewers leaning to one side......!!!
Next...think about the quality of the lines: sharp pointy ones give a feeling of energy, perhaps anger! smooth undulating ones are calm, tender, loving. Short bold ones are dramatic, fine whispy ones are smokey, suggestive and tentative. What mood do you want to create? Use your lines!
Some lines should be avoided - because they are boring, or affect the balance of the design. These are lines that are exactly parallel to the edges, or lines that bisect a corner, or "cut" the design into two equal halves. You don't want your quilt to be really predictable...like elevator music!
Use the fact that our eyes tend to follow a line to direct your viewer's gaze: towards a focal area...or around the piece...whatever you want!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!! I do hope you'll try some of these ideas ...let me know if they are helpful! And I love comments...and will always reply! So please..feel free! Elizabeth