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!


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