Thursday, 19 March 2015

Quilt design part 3: Inkscape & QDAD

Have you seen the Facebook Group: Quilt Design a Day?  Known as QDAD this group encourages quilters to spend 15-20 minutes a day playing with colour and shapes to design a quilt.  The intention is not to make these into a quilt though if you come up with something that captures you go for it! 
Image from Facebook
The idea is to flex your creative muscles and by training them a little every day make them stronger!  By spending a short time, maybe during lunch break or waiting for the pasta to cook you can see what influences you in your likes and choices, develop new concepts, be inspired by what others are creating and generally just have fun!  Anyone who is a member of the Modern Quilt Guild will have access to Anne Sullivan's talk in the Resources section where she describes how QDAD came about and how her design aesthetic has changed and grown simply from playing with shape and colour a little bit every day.
Image from design seeds
An inspiration image is used to suggest a colour palette for your design and a new image is posted each day.  The group started using Design Seeds but has expanded to allow users to suggest a colour palette too.  You are not limited to this palette but can add or remove colours.  It’s there to prompt you and make it easier than looking at a blank page!

One of the programs that the QDAD group uses to make their designs is a free program called Inkscape.  Like Touchdraw, that we explored in the last post, Inkscape is a vector graphics program that allows you to manipulate shapes independent of each other, move them around, group them, scale them, rotate them and colour in any colour you want. Unlike Touchdraw, Inkscape is free!  It is available for Mac, PC and Linux and can even be installed as a portable program on a hard drive or SD card and moved from computer to computer if you have more than one!
Dutch rose coloured
There is a little bit of a learning curve with Inkscape and I find Touchdraw much more intuitive.  Having said that it is possible to make some really fun quilt designs with it and use it to help re-size or scale up quilt designs, or even colour in, as in this rainbow version of the Dutch Rose block.  (We explored the Dutch Rose aka Swoon block here some time back if you want to see more of this gorgeous block!)
Image from Inkscape Help
Like Touchdraw, you have tools to make basic shapes: squares, rectangles, circles, stars, hexagons but there is no short cut triangle from the main menu.  I find it easiest to draw one.  To do this the first thing to do when opening Inkscape is to open File/Document properties.  I turn off the border options as I don’t want to be limited to an A4 or letter sized workspace.  I also click on default units as inches.  Next go to the grid menu and change spacing to a 0.25 or 1/4” and major grid line every 4 steps.  Make sure visible is ticked to turn the grid on.

Next click on the pen tool or hold the shift key down and press F6.  Then draw a triangle on the grid.

Untitled picture
Click on any of the colours on the bottom of the screen to fill your triangle as a solid shape.  You can now build your block or design and change colour really easily.

Grouping shapes together works the same as in Word and Touchdraw and you can add backgrounds or binding the same as in previous software tutorials.

Once grouped, if you click on a block you select the whole block and can move it or scale it.  Holding the control key and pressing D makes a duplicate copy.  To change the colour of a shape in a grouped collection hold down the control key and click on the shape in the group you want to just select that shape. You can then change the colour and play with colour combinations or different background colours.

To scale a block accurately in Inkscape you need to turn off the stroke (outline around each shape, grey in the black background block above.  For some reason Inkscape grows the shape by a very small amount when you add an outline.)  Select Object/Fill and Stroke to open the menu and click on X to turn it off.  You can then pull on the corner handles or insert a size in the top bar in W for Width and H for height.


Here I made my 16" block 36", duplicated it 3 times and arranged them all so that there is a 4" space between them.  I didn't like the corner squares so coloured them white the same as our background.  Click on each shape twice will allow you to rotate the blocks (or use the drop down menu Object/Transform).  I like this with the warm yellow/orange colours in the centre and the cooler colours on the outside.

Adding a background square, sending it to sit behind our existing blocks (Object/Lower to Bottom)  and colouring it in simulates binding.
Finished Happy rainbow dutch rose

I like this 4 block version but how about a giant Dutch Rose block?
Scaling up to 72" and adding a border could make another fun bed sized quilt project.  To determine what size squares to cut I could take the 72" and divide by 8 (the Dutch Rose is an 8 x 8 block) or just click into the group holding control and clicking on a shape gives me the square dimensions of 9".  This is the finished size to I need to add on 1/4" seam both sides and cut 9.5" squares.  For the triangles to get a 9" finished block I need to cut 9 7/8" squares (for lots of ways to make Half Square Triangles see this earlier post!)

72 happy dutch rose

So what do you think?  Want to make a giant Dutch Rose quilt?  Anyone up for a Quilt-A-Long?

I hope you have a look at the QDAD page and if you are tempted to try a quilt design a day, we'd love to see them!

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