The Lure of Islamic Patterns

April 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | 4 Comments

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here, I was kind of busy with a project I can’t post about, and my knitting seems to accomplish not very much, either. But the secret project is almost finished (and yes, I will post it as soon as I can), and I was looking for inspiration for something new.

I’ve always been fascinated with the geometric, line-based patterns used in Islamic art. A few deceptively simple lines, when woven into each other, build up complex geometric forms. I spent quite a while last year at the V&A looking at this panel, even trying a small sketch of it, picking out the elements of the pattern. I knew back then that I wanted to do a quilt inpired by this, one day.

So back home, I started a first try to reconstruct the pattern using ruler and pencil on a piece of paper, but soon realized that even if I got things right, I could never reach the precision needed to construct the whole pattern this way. Another way was needed, so I remembered GeoGebra, a nifty little piece of software intended for maths teaching and learning. I was originally made aware of it via Jon’s blog, which is all about interesting things you can do with relatively basic maths. A perfect tool for somebody who was always too clumsy in school to have her geometry constructions come out quite right.

Using GeoGebra, I started to draw the pattern from scratch. After a couple of false starts, things started to come together, and I ended up with an apparent mess like this:

A bit of cleanup later, you can pretty much see the pattern:

Nice, and because I can’t get enough of it, I’m going to make two quite different quilts starting from the same pattern: the first one will emphasize the linearity of the pattern, using gold thread on a dark blue background to show how the pattern is built up from lines. Here’s the sample I made for this:

The second one will emphasize the different geometric forms that are created by those intersecting lines. This is going to be my first attempt at English paper piecing, and I also made a sample for this to make sure it would be actually possible to sew this:

The colours for both quilts will be a bit different, since I tried the pattern out on scrap fabric, but I think you get the idea. After a bit of looking I’ve found all the supplies I need for both quilts, and am looking forward to actually starting to sew. I hope I’ll be able to show you something for real soon!


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  1. Wow, they’re going to look amazing! I love working with geometric forms of various sorts, though I’ve never tried Islamic designs. I’ll be following this project with interest!

  2. I LOVE islamic designs and while in some ways all quilts follow a similar pattern, I have been looking specifically for Islamic design quilt patterns forever. If you find any, or know of good sources, please let me know!

  3. Thanks , I also have been looking for a islamic quilt design for all my 12 kids as it is winter now and we don’t have a heater. This will get my kids a simile on their faces for this creative design

  4. […] back in 2010, I wrote about my samples using an islamic pattern taken from an object in the V&A collection. With the dark blue quilt […]

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