The overall design of the Kenyan quilt

As promised in last week’s post, here an update of the overall design ideas for my Kenyan quilt.  First, I wanted to put both stories about the blocks and the overall quilt design in one post but it became way too long, so now you have two times the fun.

Initial design idea for the quilt

In the Monthly sewing update of September, I showed you my first design of the overall layout of the quilt. A perfectly good first draft, but ultimately it lacked some of the chaos and life I like my quilts to have. Also, this pattern gave me limited options to draw my own patterns because it has a lot of repetition.

Design idea Kenyan quilt

When I first drew this pattern I already expected it to not last: sometimes you need to take an idea from your mind to paper to realize it’s not right. You can see that I kept the idea of using the flower block and the log cabin block.

The second idea was born

While designing the blocks I tried to get a sense of movement into them. That gave me the next idea for the layout of the quilt. I decided to create a continuous swirling movement throughout the quilt which moves through every block.  It creates a very pleasing looking quilt when you place the blocks not next to each other, but some distance from each other so the mind has to fill in the movement from block to block. I’ve seen this done by other quilters very effectively. So far the Kenyan quilt has not much to do with Kenyan, except the fabrics,  so I combined the swirling movements with a kind of tree you see around here a lot. The combination of the swirls and the tree doesn’t make much sense though. So this is also only a temporal design.

design cut and 40%

The third idea might be the final

But we’ve all heard that one before right? I feel like I’m getting closer to the final design though. Each plan so far I’ve discarded has brought me closer to a design I am happy with. The decision on the final design I cannot explain otherwise than that it has to feel ‘right’. That is a very poor way to describe the design process and I will try to improve my explanation at some point. For now, it suffices to say that the ‘feeling of rightness’ is an actual thing. I keep working on a sketch or idea until it ‘feels’ done.

The Gypsy wife quily by Jen Kingwell
The Gypsy Wife Quilt by Jen Kingwell

The third layout idea is one inspired by the ‘Gypsy Wife Quilt’ design by Jen Kingwell. In the picture above you see the original quilt. I’ve always wanted to make the Gypsy Wife Quilt myself because I like the random look of it and the possibility of bold colour use. Additionally, something called the Gypsy Wife Quilt fits with the nomadic lifestyle I’m currently leading. I will not use the same patterns for the blocks, but rather use my own in a similar layout. I’ve got some amazing fabrics with Maasai patterns which will work brilliantly as strips or borders.

So, that’s the end for now

Which one do you like best? I know I’ve already decided on the third design, but it is always nice when your readers disagree with you. I’ve also got some questions for you:

  1. How do you know when a design is right?
  2. What is your design process? Do you use a computer or do you work on graph paper like me?

A nice song to end this post:

And here the post that inspired this all:

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


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