The golden rectangle is an interesting idea for quilters because it may make us think about the size of the quilts that we make. The basic idea of the golden rectangle is that it is made of a square and a rectangle. The smaller rectangle is of the same proportions as the large rectangle and those proportions are 1 to 1.618. This is known as the golden proportion.
Uses of the golden rectangle
The idea of this rectangle has been around for ever. It was used by the ancient Greeks in both art and architecture because it’s felt to be the best looking proportions for a rectangle – the most pleasing to the eye. These rectangle proportions are used in both the Parthenon and the Acropolis. It has been called the baby bear rectangle because it’s not too thick or too thin, but just right.
Subdividing the golden rectangle
Now where it gets really interesting is that I said above that the golden rectangle is made from a square and another golden rectangle. So this means that you can take the square away and still have a golden rectangle. And from that second golden rectangle you can take the square away and be left with another rectangle and then take away the square ….. You get the picture – you can carry on taking away the square for a long time.
This might not sound terribly interesting in its own right, but the interesting point is that if you draw a line joining the corner across the diagonal of all these squares you would end up with a spiral of the same proportions as found in galaxies, sunflowers, pineapples and the human body. That’s pretty neat, isn’t it!
Golden rectangle in quilts
But of course you want to know where that gets you in your quilting. The first answer is that you could bear these proportions in mind when designing your quilt or wall hanging. The golden rectangle proportions in quilting terms would be 60″ by 97″ or 50″ by 81″. Maybe not always practical because very often we are making quilts for a specific bed size, but a quilted wall hanging could be made to measure say 15″ by 24″. I have also seen quilts that use the golden spiral either in the design of the quilt or in the quilting, but I’m not sure that my maths would be up to that!
For the Soar quilt that I’ll be showing you tomorrow I have used a rectangle 21″ by 33″ for the central panel. This is adjusted slightly from the golden proportions because I wanted two numbers that are both divisible by 3 so that I could use 3″ squares for the quilt.