Friday, October 11, 2019

Designing the Dresden Medallion, Continued

In my last post I shared a new project I'm thinking about. Scroll down to read it if you want to, then come back. Thank you to all who left comments and shared your thoughts about the design - I appreciate your input.

My starter palette, to which I'll add friends.

I made test blocks (using scraps) to help me decide which layout to use. The blocks would finish at 8 inches.

My test block with 3 blades, each blade 3-1/4" across at the widest.

4 blades, 2-1/2" wide

5 blades, 2" wide

Usually we think of Dresden Plates as having 20 blades, 5 per quadrant, as made by the Easy Dresden tool, so the five blade fan is the most familiar. When I made the blocks, to my disappointment I saw the 5 blade option as the most pleasing. Maybe because it's familiar?

But the fabrics I want to use are a little larger scale and I want more of each to show. I also want to fussy cut some of the prints. That's why I created the 3 and 4 blade options. 

The 4 blade option does allow a little more of each print to show. They say it's more artistic and visually pleasing to use an odd number of something rather than an even number. But I'm not sure how important the number of blades in each block is to the overall layout, because the layout itself is an odd number of something, 3 curves per side.  Here are the layout options using grey to illustrate the overall shape. 
3 blades per block

4 blades per block

5 blades per block

The overall snaky shape is similar, just more or less angular. Note the negative space and the interesting shapes formed. 

Originally I was leaning to 3 or maybe 4 blades per block. My friends at coffee last week mostly preferred the five blade option. One of the comments on Monday's post really resonated with me. Julie, whose design sense I respect and appreciate, said "Without an enormous amount of thought (or reading the previous comments), I prefer the three-blade layout. Why? It involves a custom template (up your alley), it allows more of the fabric to show (again, letting you feature those prints you said you preferred), and it is an atypical layout (again, making it special to you and not just like someone else's design)."

I said I was disappointed when I didn't immediately love the 3 blade block the most. But as I contemplate the design, I'm drawn to the 3 blade option for all the reasons Julie articulated, plus the interesting negative space shape in the overall layout. 

Here's the EQ rendering of the 3 blade option in color using prints of similar scale to mine: 

I'm going with the 3 blade option. Maybe it'll tun out to be something good. Or maybe it'll turn out to be a big disappointment. It's more of a risk. But it's more individual, more unique. I'd rather take the risk than make something expected and ho-hum. 

Link ups:
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt


  1. Hooray! I think it will be in the "something good" category.

  2. I 5hink it'll look great and let the fabrics shine.

  3. You should definitely go for it. The more blades the easier it is for the eye to make a curve along the edge. I think that's why most people prefer the 5 blade, it's easier to smooth out the edges. The 3 blade version is more ragged, so a bit more jarring to the brain's desire for smooth contours. I think it's an interesting design choice.

  4. Before reading the whole post I decided I liked the 3 blade option the best-a little less busy and yes your fabrics will show better.

  5. I'm glad you're going with this option!

  6. Love that 3 blade layout..gorgeous fabrics hugs, Julierose

  7. You should go with what makes you happy and if it's 3 it! I love the layout you doing, and combine that with your larger print's right!

  8. Before I read your post I was liking the 3 blade layout. But my rationale was probably more laziness. It would definitely be doable as a 3 blade as you would have so much less cutting and piecing.... see, laziness. But the overall design is so striking. I think the 3 blade shows it off just as well. And, you would definitely see more of the fabrics. Have fun with this one.