Layered Patterns

The most accomplished quilters understand the visual impact of both color and pattern in making a successful quilt. These two quilts each contrast the colors red and blue, and the scale of the patterns, and the colors’ “temperatures,” create a lively, stimulating effect. The red is a “warm” color that advances out toward the viewer; the opposite is true of blue—as a “cool” color it appears to recede. In Roberta Jemison’s Tombstone Quilt, the quilter layered a large “x” shape made up of red diamonds atop a field of blue strips arranged in a traditional “housetop” or “pig pen” pattern. That is, the longest strips are placed around the outside edge, and the sizes become smaller as they move toward the center, which leads the eye to interpret a recession into space. Varying the blue tones in the background intensifies the contrast and enhances this effect. In this case, the eye sees at least four distinct patterns: that created by the red diamonds, that created by the blue recessive background, and the four large equilateral triangles created by the red “x.” 


The Wandering Foot quilt is an even more confounding collection of patterns made by the repetition of layered squares and circles. The “foot” is the three-part leaf shaped element that makes up the two forms. When the squares are placed, the feet “overlap” and combine to create an elaborate collection of curved squares and pinwheel shapes. Unlike the Tombstone Quilt, there is a strict regularity to the pattern that establishes a unified and balanced image. While the quilting plays less of a role visually in the Tombstone Quilt, in the Wandering Foot the quilter has sewn a four-part pattern into the white elements of the quilt further building its splendid textures and emphasizing the nature of this as a textile of extraordinary quality.


Click on the quilt images for additional information.