Constructing a Quilt using Negative Space

Today, I thought that I would share with you my method for constructing a quilt with negative space, using my most recent finish [Radiant Orchid Pantone Challenge Quilt] as an example.   This is by no means the only way to construct a quilt with negative space, and honestly my methods tend to shift slightly depending upon the quilt that I am making; but if you have never made a quilt like this before, hopefully you will find this reference guide/tutorial helpful.

Inspired by this piece of artwork, I decided that I was going to work with three blocks for this quilt.
  • Square
  • HST (Half Square Triangle)
  • Flying Geese
As the Square was the simplest of the shapes, I based most of my measurements off of it. In my quilt, I wanted a 4" x 4" finished square (cut 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" to allow for seam allowance). 

I cut my HST and Flying Geese accordingly, so their finished size would be 4" x 4". If you are unfamiliar with making HST or Flying Geese, a quick search on Google will give you lots of references.

Rows & Spacing:
I chose to build the quilt in rows, rather then columns, as that is what comes more natural to me.  While I could have easily drafted this quilt out on graph-paper, I tend to work a little more organically or go-with-the-flow when I'm building a negative space quilt.  What I mean is that I had my inspiration, and an idea of what I wanted it to look like; but not an exact plan as to how I would achieve it.  I had blocks; but wanted to see how they worked with one another before I settled on a layout.

The first decision I had to make was how far apart I would place each of the blocks that I created.  I placed a few of them on the floor (or if you have a design wall, all the better), and began separating them at different intervals [1" apart, then 1 1/2", followed by 2", then 2 1/2"] until I has happy with how it looked. 

In the end, I decided that a 2" spacing was best since my blocks would finish at 4" x 4".

I laid out my first row, playing around with the arrangement until I was happy, and used it as reference for the rest of my quilt.  I then laid out the remainder of my blocks, creating several more rows; but re-arranging as needed.  

Using my background fabric, I then cut a handful of 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" {spacer blocks} for use in between the Squares, HST or Flying Geese.  I also cut several 2 1/2" x WOF; which would be used as the {spacer rows}, and several 4 1/2" x WOF strips to use along the the edges of each row.

I then pieced each row together one at a time.

Here is what my progress looked like along the way.  Can you see the {spacer blocks} and {spacer rows}?

Adding Borders:
I know, I know...modern quilters are always talking about their quilts not having borders; yet used in the right way for negative space quilts especially, borders can be the ingredient you didn't know you were missing.

After I had sewn and pressed all of my rows, there was just something visually wrong.  I grabbed some of the background fabric that I had left over and decided that this quilt needed a 4" border on all four sides. While this enlarged the overall size of the quilt, it also gave the blocks some breathing room and distance from the edge of the quilt.  This was especially useful since my binding would be a pop color.


If you are unfamiliar with how to construct a quilt using Negative Space, I hope this offered you some insight. So, let me there a negative space quilt in your future?