The Three R’s

No matter what style of quilt you’re making, the three R’s – Repeat, Resize, and Rotate – can help you achieve a more effective design.

Repetition can be used to create a visual rhythm to a piece, or help to emphasize a particular design element. Repetition can also assist in creating consistency that helps to bring unity or harmony to a composition.

Resizing and rotating the repeated elements adds interest to the work, while still maintaining a sense of unity. The same design element can be repeated in a myriad of ways. Paging through back issues of MQU I was overwhelmed with possible quilts to use to demonstrate these concepts! Let’s look at a few examples.

Sandra Leichner used repetition to great effect in Tea with Miss D. Several motifs, including the daisy like flower and variations of the leaves, are used  in both the quilting and the appliqué. Notice how this unifies the borders.

Tea with Miss D ©Sandra Leichner from MQU November/December 2014
Tea with Miss D ©Sandra Leichner from MQU November/December 2014

Our July/August 2016 cover artist, Kathy York, pulled out all the stops when creating Little Cities. Repetition is vital to the design of this quilt in every way. By limiting the shapes she used almost exclusively to squares and circles, and using careful color placement, she created a piece that dances with life yet is still balanced and harmonious.

Little Cities ©Kathy York from MQU July/August 2016
Little Cities ©Kathy York from MQU July/August 2016

Redwork Bird by Valerie Smith was featured in our March/April 2016 issue in her article entitled “Create Secondary Designs With Frames”.  This small piece is pulled together by Valerie’s use of arched feathers both inside and outside the pieced square.

Redwork Bird ©Valerie Smith MQU March/April 2016
Redwork Bird ©Valerie Smith MQU March/April 2016

Part of the beauty of nature is in the repetition of shapes and colors. Ruth de Vos captures some of that magic in her lovely See the Gentle Breeze. One basic shape, the leaf, is repeated in a variety of sizes and colors. Repeating the shape in the quilting adds another layer of detail and interest yet maintains the theme of the work.

See the Gentle Breeze ©Ruth de Vos from MQU November/December 2014
See the Gentle Breeze ©Ruth de Vos from MQU November/December 2014

Finally, here are two simple, graphic examples of quite literally using the three R’s. Resizing, and in the second drawing rotating, the orange peel motifs produces a different look that still coordinates well with the quilt on the left.

The next time you’re working on a quilt design remember the three R’s, they might be just be what your quilt needs to pull it together.

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