Monthly Archives: June 2012

Design basics 2 – thematic postcards

Hello there ,

As the next part of this series on the design basics I’ve been learning, I wanted to talk about thematic postcards. Sounds grand, but essentially I’ve found it is just an easy way to start developing ideas around your theme.

First off, if you haven’t already, get yourself a sketchbook!  If you’ve never used a sketchbook for designing textiles (or designing anything in fact take a look at this wonderful blog – The Sketchbook Challenge.

My project theme for the summer is Tree, Root and Branch. After drawing my mind map (see this post for the history), I found a few ideas which I thought were really good to investigate.

Step 1 – colours

In order to develop your idea, it’s good to start thinking about what sort of colours associate with it, so you can start to develop a small colour palette for your theme.  To help me choose my palettes, we created a whole load of small coloured squares – essentially like a home made dulux paint strip!  You can cheat by just getting hold of a whole load of ready made paint strips and cutting them up, but it’s good fun (and good learning) to mix all of the colours yourself.  (I’ll talk more about colour theory in my next design basics post).  These were the sort of coloured squares I had laid out ready to investigate…


Step 2 – colour palette 

The first idea I had was around the rich green-ness of summer trees, leaves and canopies – the idea of the dappled light which you see on a sunny day in the woods. The colours I associated with this were a mixture of rich and bright greens with shiny white of the sun peeking though the trees.

I called this palette “dappled”


Step 3 – textures and patterns 

Now came the really fun bit!  Once I had my colour palette, I started to look around for patterns, symbols and pictures which emphasised and embodied the theme. Some of these came from my photo collection and others from the internet.  This is where a pinterest board comes in handy!

Once I’d collected some good ones, into the sketchbook they go, and this gives you your “thematic postcard”. You can add other stuff to these as well as pictures – drawings, poems, textures – anything which helps you describe your theme. Here’s a few close-up pictures for dappled, and part of my sketchbook page.




 This is the start of my postcard page for dappled – still needs more work but it’s a start!

This technique is fun as a activity in itself as well as being very useful for starting of a project idea!

I’ve been doing some fabric dying for my first tree quilt project – next post I’ll have to show you!

Happy stitching!


A study in white

It’s been a windy weekend, and we didn’t really feel like venturing too far outside. Perfect opportunity to tackle a project I’ve been meaning to get started for a while. I wanted to see what I would come up with when I took away all colour and all patterns – so making a small quilt with only white fabric, and using only lines.

Silk, ribbons, lace. Clean. Quiet. Textured.

and a few close ups…..


Happy stitching,


Design basics 1 – exploring a theme

A few weeks ago, I started a textiles courses at City Lit focused on colour and pattern.  It has been a great eye-opener!  Through that and the directed study I’ve been doing as ‘homework’ I’ve been learning a lot about the basics of design.  It’s bit of a pandora’s box, as I’ve now got a list of things to look into and learn which never seems to stop.  I’ll be creating a series of posts on design basics to share as I learn more. So we have to start somewhere – and that somewhere is an idea, or a seed of an idea for you to develop.

Exploring a theme

The first technique we were shown at City Lit was mind-mapping.  As a former management consultant, this sits very well in my brain, as I’ve used this endlessly in workshops as a brainstorming technique. The idea is pretty simple – you start with a central idea (this could just be a word or a few words). From this idea, you identify a number of main ideas which branch out from the centre. These can be whatever comes to mind that is connected with your central idea. Each new word can spawn new connections and idea which can branch out in an infinite number of ways.  Connections and themes will very soon start to emerge from your map.

Angelique's mind map

Central idea for my trees mind map

If you’re a very visual person you’ll get on well with mind-mapping, some people love them and others just never quite get them! If you want to see some great mind maps, which are almost an art form in themselves, check out this site which I came across:

We were given our course theme for this term as Tree, Root & Branch

There are so many ways to interpret this!!  I tried following two things – one capturing how trees appear in nature throughout the seasons and two – picking up on the mythology and symbology of trees in English folklore.  Just starting very simply with the obvious things (roots, branches, seeds…) the map turned out pretty interesting and not at all how I expected!

My trees mind-map

Once you start to see patterns in what you’ve come up with, some themes to explore may start to jump out at you.  I found two things which I started to colour in on my mind-map. First one was leaves and canopies – the idea of the dappled light which you see on a sunny day in the woods. The second was the Wicker Man – fire, fire burning bright!  Great inspiration!

In my next ‘design basics’ post, I’ll show you the technique of thematic postcards, as a great way of expanding your ideas with colours, textures and patterns.

Happy stitching,