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Thread: How To Create Depth in This Half-Wonky Shoo Fly Quilt

  1. #1
    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Exclamation How To Create Depth in This Half-Wonky Shoo Fly Quilt

    Today we are going to have some fun learning how to create depth in our quilts. I specifically chose this Half Wonky Shoo Fly block because of its nice elements and ease in doing, especially when it's done in a fun wonky style! I just call it 'Half Wonky' because only the 4 corners of it are wonky. The middle column (horizontally and vertically) stay the same size. I like the consistency of that while showing the 4 corners in abstract positions. That's another design element of the block that I like. Not only can you showcase colors in this block, but the shapes play an important part as well! The shapes can also bring out the colors best!

    The full wonky style of this block is done in a 'stack 'em and whack 'em' type technique of slicing your stacks of fabrics twice horizontally and twice vertically, and rotating the parts one turn or not rotating at all, and then sewing all parts together.
    Yet another technique would be to just slice and dice your blocks individually so each portion would not be exactly like another block as in the 'stack 'em and whack 'em' style.

    So today's sample is the easiest of all -- making only the corners wonky!
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    SIZES OF BLOCKS:

    I started out with 2" squares as I wanted the block to finish small (5") for teaching purposes. Gather up your scraps for the wonky corners or use those older pre-cut HST's up and you'll have a quick 9P block! Some of the blocks may come out a smidgeon under 5" like mine so you can compensate for that when sewing the blocks together with a smaller seam.

    TAKING A LOOK AT THE BLOCK:

    The first thing you notice is the high and low contrast of these blocks or maybe the unusual color combinations! Some colors and combos really stand out! This is what creates your depth and movement in your quilt. The dark colors recede and the light ones pop right out at you! They are brought to the frontlines! Depending on the shades of colors you use, the fabrics you pair up and the placement of the different type blocks all play an important part of the design of this quilt. Placement of the blocks and rotation of the blocks are both important factors in determining how well the depth is shown and movement is shown.

    IDENTIFICATION OF THE BLOCK:

    Before we do anything, we need to know how to identify a block by the type it is. Once you can identify the block properly, you'll then know what to make and where to place it. Before we look at the different types of blocks that make up this quilt, we will examine the block.

    Normally the largest size piece of the block is what identifies it. In the Shoo Fly pattern, the background is largest so a block with a dark background would then be called a 'dark' block. In the quilt I just finished a tutorial on, the Square in a Square pattern, it was hard to tell whether it was a dark block or a light block because there are so many things grabbing your attention in that block, I could see how people would not know what type it was or where to place it. If you have a dark block with a really bright highlighting centerpiece, what would you call it? First of all, you would call it a dark block no matter what part of it stands out no matter how small the piece is or bright the whole block is.

    Here are pics of some of the dark blocks and here is a pic of the light ones.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    TYPES OF BLOCKS:

    This is one of the most fun blocks of all to do! I've been wanting to make this block in a wonky style for some time now. I'm finally getting to do it and using the beginnings of my quilt-to-be as a teaching mechanism.

    The goal or theme of this quilt is 'oddball pairings' of fabrics or 'opposites attract' as the goal in doing each block. For this demo, I've made high contrast blocks, low contrast blocks, some that are neither but are just what I call 'low level' blocks. The low level blocks are just there making a splash of color sometimes and that's it. Sometimes they are such low level that they don't provide much of anything other than a 'binding' factor or a 'cement' to the other blocks.

    The first block we'll look at is the 'oddball couple' where fabrics paired are of unlikely combinations. This is the primary block of this quilt, after all, and the majority of the blocks are of this combination, i.e., a bold stripe paired with a dot, squares mixed with dots, florals and stars, etc.

    Here are some more of those blocks:
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  4. #4
    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Next is a pic of a 'low level' block. You can see that it's made of really small scale of 2 different prints. You know I didn't think this block would really pack that much of a punch, but let's take a look at it! It really does wonders among the others! First of all, I can't help but notice how those 2 shades really vibrate! It does make a statement after all! It just so happens that I joined a particular shade of orange with an interesting shade of green from the 30's. No other green would have done the same thing. Whenever you put a warm and cool together in a block, watch out! It can be really intense. I still call this a 'low level' block anyway because it's not graphic like the others with the bold prints and it doesn't really show any oddball combination like the others. Also, as compared to the high contrast block 2 blocks to the right, it's dull in comparison.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    You will want to go through your stash and pull those fabrics that qualify as an 'oddball' possibility and pair them up with unlikely candidates, a Batik and a novelty, a checkered with a chevron, etc.

    It is so fun to look for and put together such odd groups of fabrics! You will really enjoy this part! I have a term for these blocks and I just call them 'reverse color'. I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but have just not taken the time to do so. I'm so glad you are giving me a good excuse to get these type blocks put together! I will more than likely take these 16 blocks used for this demo and make a lap quilt of more of them since I don't have a need for a small doll quilt or wallhanging. I'd prefer a lap quilt that someone could use and enjoy!

    I call them 'reverse color' because the actual print goes into the background and the background is used for the pattern. It can make such an interesting statement in a quilt!

    Next we have those wonderful 'highlighting' blocks! They do a great job in accenting certain areas of the quilt and it would just be bland without them! These blocks stand out more than any others in the quilt and should make up at least 8% of the blocks in a quilt. (Out of 100 blocks, 8 of them would be highlighting). They are extremely high contrast of the darkest dark meeting up with the coolest cool. They grab your attention and it's what makes your quilt sparkle! We need to know how to make these blocks and where to put them! The highlighting blocks are also the dark blocks we saw in the previous section. In the Placement of Blocks section, I discuss the highlighting block I used as my focal point. Refer to that section on how I used that block.

    Now we'll talk about those blocks in the quilt that are there just for color only. They are not a low level block, but say for example you are going with a 'warm' color type quilt and you can see you've used most of the warm colors except it's lacking a yellow color, whether dull or bright doesn't matter, but there needs to be one. You'll be making blocks up just to provide that missing color. We'll just call them 'missing color' blocks. You'll know when this happens. You'll look at your quilt and realize it's missing a certain color. Sometimes when you don't know what to add, you can always add a purple because it contains all the primary colors and will go with any of the colors in the spectrum. It's a safe bet.

    Let's say you are emphasizing the color black in your quilt and you realize you need one more or maybe 2 more blocks with that color to carry the theme through. You could use black in your wonky corners only paired up with a strong color and by making the wonky corners bigger and wider, it would fulfill that need!

    I did this in one of my blocks (making the wonky parts bigger/wider) so they would stand out more as I wanted to emphasize this particular beautiful color. It is a high contrast block, one of the 3 in this quilt so far, and you'll want to emphasize its dramatic intensity too.

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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Here's a pic of both of them. The bottom block is the one I made the corners larger to emphasize the great contrast between the 2 colors. The low contrast one above it is actually much darker than the pic shows on computer, but I will show another pic of the actual color of that block later in the tut.


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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    PLACEMENT OF BLOCKS:

    You will start out making your dark blocks first and placing them on the design wall. After all, these blocks are what are most important in creating that great depth, movement and contrast of all the blocks. Placed strategically in the quilt gives the quilt its focal point, helps the onlooker to see the highlights and an overall impression is gained at first glance. Where you place the blocks determines its theme, success or failure. Let's stagger them on the wall now! As you can see, I've placed my focal point block in the 2nd row mid-section of the quilt. I want this block to be the first block the onlooker will see. I chose this block because of the nice shapes of the corners that really stand out when the 2 fabrics are contrasting nicely. You will also notice that the highest contrast block is placed at the very bottom of the quilt. This was done to highlight the right-hand corner section of the quilt. It's important that the dark blocks are placed some distance from each other. We only have 16 blocks so far so spacing is confining now.

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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Next we are going to fill in areas with the light blocks. We are going to place the light ones right next to the dark ones where they will show up best!
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Now the medium colored ones will go on the wall filling in gaps. I call these blocks 'fillers' because they just fill the space up.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    We'll place the low contrast block in above the high contrast one so our quilt has a random look to it and is not dark blocks alternating so obviously with light blocks. It helps to break up those areas.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Next we'll place in our low level blocks or missing color block. This low level was also used as a missing color because I saw the need for an orange in the quilt this far. And now we have a pic of the whole quilt!! There is also a pic of the actual color of the quilt so you can see how the low contrast block is really dark and not bright as in the earlier picture.

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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    This pic is of the actual color of the quilt that we mentioned earlier. Can you see how much darker the blue is in the low contrast block?
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    ROTATION OF BLOCKS:

    After our colors are dispersed through the quilt adequately and we are pleased with the placement of the blocks, we want to focus on the SHAPE!!!

    One of the nice things about this wonky style is its different shapes and by rotating or turning the blocks in opposing ways helps to showcase their importance and drama!

    Yes, we want to focus on getting those shapes in one block opposite to those in the adjoining block! These odd shapes help to 'showcase' a certain color! You definitely want them in the right position!
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    After the blocks are rotated, we can stand back and examine the quilt from a distance. Some of the shapes will jump out at you while others seem to retract. This is the time to get everything finalized in its right position before final sewing!

    Also, you might want to join all the blocks and rotate them in an area with very low lighting! The nice result of this is a quilt whose sections will really light up in the dark!! Well, if they don't light up literally, they will stand out much more by having done so!! The quilt's colors will have been 'well balanced' by having been done in low lighting!

    It's sometimes in low lighting that I realize the need for a move of a certain block while it's on the design wall.


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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    TIPS:

    The first thing I'd like to show you is a sample of different wonky corners you can make. Be sure to use at least 3 different sizes of wonky corners for each block. If the onlooker sees a large sized wonky corner first, then the image is conveyed without further search. Here's a pic of a sample block for you.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    The next pic just shows how the direction of stripes were ignored when making the block. Since the theme is wonky, you might just do the same on any type of directional print also. These are prints like a chevron, a stripe, dots, plaids or anything showing a specific direction of the print.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    This pic shows how the placement of florals was avoided to just let them flutter to the ground and fall where they may in the block! haha.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    This pic shows the effectiveness of fabric repeats and can really give the quilt a 'connection' factor. We want all the blocks in the quilt to show a similar relationship to one another! However, I've been known to stick in a block that looks like none of the others. I do this in most of my quilts. It is my philosophy that there is always one in a crowd that does not belong. Among Jesus' disciples, there was one that did not belong. I did this in my last tut where I placed a really loud large scale plaid background fabric that had nothing to do whatsoever with all the small scale prints in the Square in a Square quilt. However, in the tut prior to that one, the Greek Key scrappy, I was not able to put in such a block.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    This last pic shows the quilt in another color scheme. It's in cool colors. It's just the opposite of my quilt so far as mine was primarily done using warm colors. This pic also shows the effective use of dark/light blocks showing good contrast and color placement of all the blocks. Take time to consider the use of colors in your quilt as well as fabric prints.
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    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    CONCLUSION:

    In closing, I hope this tutorial has been a help to you! You can always refer to the pics of the sample blocks for color and placement ideas although any type of random placement is always more appealing than a set pattern. Take into consideration also the colors you are using in your quilt. I am more on the conservative side so my blocks may not be as expressive as yours depending on the fabrics you use and I've seen some of those great fabrics you have!

    Remember also that the block size is small (5") so even though you have some really great large scale prints you'd like to use in it, you should consider that fact. These small 2" squares can only handle so large of a scale of print. However, if you're making larger blocks, anything then would work well!

    I hope you are now better prepared and more knowledgeable for creating depth, contrast and movement so gather up those scraps and just have some fun putting together some unusual combinations! Opposites surely do attract! Happy quilting! n2

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    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    A very methodical and easy to understand tute, n2. I enjoyed it thoroughly!
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    I donate quilts to the AAQI.

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    Junior Member onthemove's Avatar
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    Such ugly fabrics yet when you put it together it is very cool looking!!! Thank you for the tute. I am going to try this one.

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    Great tut, thanks for posting!!!

  24. #24
    Super Member n2scraplvr's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone!

    In rereading my script, I realized I left out a paragraph @ post #6 so here it is describing the low contrast block: I had accidentally hit the wrong key and duplicated my page's paragraphs, lost my place in pasting, and finally picked it all up but omitting this one paragraph! Whew! Tut posting can be so much fun!!

    Another type block is 'low contrast'. Here's a pic of one. It is a dark meeting a dark cool color one. Another way to say that so you understand is it's a cool color of the darkest kind meeting together with a dark color from the warm color family. haha. That is a lot to explain, isn't it? Another way to say that is it's a dark meeting a dark showing little contrast no matter which color family it's from! There we go! We have it now! On the other side of that coin is a light meeting a light also showing very little contrast between the two. Out of 16 blocks so far, I only have one low contrast, but would make more to go in the quilt as they provide a lot of interest to the quilt. I like their low level way of interaction. You might say they are the quiet blocks in a quilt (the light ones only). The dark low contrast ones act as a bridge sometimes. For example, I used this block as a bridge to getting to my highest contrast block and when they are placed together, you notice it!


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    Super Member jeaninmaine's Avatar
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    I just love this tutorial, I've always enjoyed looking at wonky type quilts but never had the courage to try and make one. Your explanation of how to play with the different designs and get them to work together was great. Thank you so very much.

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