Finding Balance with Visual Weight

I’m working on that UFO. More accurately, I’ve stalled working on that UFO, because of balance problems.

Last time I showed you a couple of ideas for finishing the 6-pointed star with borders. Both were good ideas, and I kept playing in EQ7 to refine them. This was the winner:

Pretty, huh? I liked the airy way the chains of 4-patches wrapped around the center. After arriving home over the weekend, I set to work making 40 double-4-patches to construct the borders. They finished well, and I was excited to lay them out around the center. But I don’t like the look at all. They definitely look better in the drawing than they do in real life.

The balance is all wrong. The visual weight of the center (everything in the center so far, including the 4-patches on point and the 1″ dark pink border outside of them) is too heavy, relative to the weight of the chains. The difference is so stark, the border chain blocks seem completely disconnected from the center, as if they are from different quilts.

Unity: the design principle that all the elements and components of a design look like they belong, that they are unified, or one.

Balance: the design principle that elements and components of a design have equal distribution of visual weight.

My chains are not well balanced with the center, and in fact, are so badly balanced as to look like they don’t belong.

Sigh…Β 

So it was back to the literal drawing board of EQ7. I have a tentative plan, but you might understand that I’m shy about showing it right now. First I’ll see if it works.

How is your week going? Are you making good progress, or are you in steps-forward and steps-back mode, like I am?

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28 thoughts on “Finding Balance with Visual Weight

  1. piecefulwendy

    Oh how frustrating. I did begin to see it when you described it, however. Funny how the drawing looks so good, but it doesn’t translate well. Could you put a double chain in and would that balance better?

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  2. Nann

    I’m a good visualizer, but I cannot see where the design goes wrong even after reading your explanation and re-viewing the drawing twice! I look forward to see how you rework it.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, looking at the picture, I still can’t see it, except as I know what happened! When I started fantasizing about doing something else (a different quilt?) with the 4-patches, I knew it wasn’t right. Thanks.

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  3. sewtonya

    I agree with Nann, I am not seeing it either. I am excited to as well to see how you ‘fix it’ Best of luck!

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  4. katechiconi

    Oh no! That was the version I preferred, and I’m sad it doesn’t work. But I do begin to see the problem, I think – too much pale space, and the straight borders give very strong punctuation which is missing from the chains. I hope those chains will reappear elsewhere, as I think the effect is very pretty.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I do love chains in quilts! Some of my favorite block quilts have chain blocks. I am using some of the FORTY blocks I made (and remaking a few because of …) But there will be a few leftover. They might go on the back as filler. ??? We’ll see!

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  5. Nancy Granner

    I was wondering what made your original design fail. Was it too much light against dark, was it scale of the blocks or was it placement of the design? It sure looked good on paper. Most things can be solved with color, value or scale. Keep us informed.

    Another thought — I was to let you know when I need to borrow three quilt stands from the guild and it is Aug 20 to August 25. Nancy G

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Nancy. Yes, too much light against dark, and also too much density for the airiness of the chains. That created the scale problem. I reworked it and expect to use some of the double 4-patches to create short chains. I’m still not sure I’ll love it, and in truth I don’t have to! But I do want to like it enough to finish it.

      Yes, the 3 quilt stands. I have them, and I should be in town then, so we can arrange for that.

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  6. knitnkwilt

    Lots of chances for that gap between plan and product. For me one is from pencil sketch to color and another from small sketch to full sized quilt. Some things just get magnified. Your center reminds me of a quilt I made where it seemed I’d added a final row when it was meant to be a middle row.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I can relate to that! I have been surprised sometimes, when I thought I was done and then saw I was not, and vice versa, as well. Sometimes it is simply a matter of persistence — keep going and it will all work out. This time I don’t think it would.

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  7. jmn111

    Don’t give up so fast – don’t forget those chains are bordering triangular elements that have a lot of detail so once those large triangles are done with the chains might just have enough weight! Right now all you have are the chains.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You’re right, and I considered that. I guess I wasn’t game for making the star blocks, with all the detail, and then deciding I still didn’t like it! lol… I’ve changed direction and it’s going pretty well now, so it’s all okay, either way. Thanks for the comments.

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      1. jmn111

        It’ll be lovely whatever you decide to do – because if you don’t like it you’ll do something else and use the “discarded” bits for something else – this is quilting, after all.

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        1. Melanie McNeil Post author

          Over the last few years I’ve become pretty peaceful about having extra bits. Many times I’ve drawn something just perfect in EQ7, or even just thought it through, and found that in real fabric it didn’t work for me. Sometimes it takes a small tweak (replacing 4 of 40 blocks, for instance,) and sometimes it takes major reworking. While I’d rather not have all those leftover bits, I do find ways to use many of them.

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  8. snarkyquilter

    It might have been the green fabric was darker than that shown in the EQ version. Perhaps you can rearrange the 4 patches to make another diagonal pattern. Otherwise, you’d need to remake the center and change the color values there, which I know isn’t going to happen.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You’re right about that, the center isn’t going to change! I am rearranging the 4-patches and am pretty happy with how it looks. It isn’t the quilt I thought it would be, but considering I started on this UFO without preconceptions, that’s okay. Thanks.

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  9. KerryCan

    I’ve never used quilting software but I would’ve thought it would solve the problem you’re describing! I guess until you see the blocks in actual fabric, you never know. Looking forward to seeing where you go from here!

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  10. Edith

    I like your design but when it’s wrong, it’s wrong😊 I think part of the difference is the colors in the border you currently have in the center is quite a bit darker and so heavier than the design in EQ? Enjoy!

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, it definitely seems darker and heavier, while the intended chain blocks were lighter and brighter. Fortunately, I’ve had enough of these “dilemmas” to get used to changing direction, and I don’t take it personally! πŸ™‚ Thanks.

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  11. zippyquilts

    Well, win some lose some on the quilt design! I personally think the chain section would be fine if it weren’t for the small scale of the 4-patch border around the center star. So I’d change that border (solid?) and keep the chains. So many options!

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