My background is in graphic communication & design though, so when it comes to the design of a quilt--even for practice--I can't help but apply my sense of color and motion and intent to the layout.
When designing the blocks, I started by organizing the fabrics from light to dark. My block used just 2 fabrics each, so once I saw I had a good range, I made a color combination that followed only 1 rule: following opposite contrast, combine from end to end of the range. Meaning the lightest fabric combined with the darkest; the 2nd lightest with the 2nd darkest, the 3rd lightest with the 3rd darkest, etc., through all the fabrics. This gave me blocks with high contrast (lights & darks together) and low contrast (the mediums together).
But when I got to the layout/design stage--which is the part of any quilt I love the most!--I got caught up in the play of colors and motion. Simple blocks and 1 simple rule should have made this a snap, but there were so many possibilities!
I noticed the yellows were catching my eye, so I tried highlighting them with a framing layout, where the blocks with yellows would define a border withing the quilt (Fig. 1). It would work, but it looked too rigid for the swirling quilting I was planning. So I pushed the blocks aside & tried another layout.
Leaves! Fall leaves! I know, I know--I should have seen it before! It was not intended as a fall quilt--just a practice piece--but the fabrics had already led me to the design before I was aware.
So, back to the design area with my 3 rules... leaves are all jumbled up in the fall, especially with the wind swirling them, so now I had my design. Mix it up! So I did. After several tries at re-arranging and leaving it, then coming back & moving blocks around, I finalized the quilt (Fig. 3).
This was for practice quilting but something wasn't right about the layout. My eye needed a resting place that just wasn't there. My sense of design was not satisfied.
I went back to my stash & pulled out The Reject Fabric (it hadn't been used with the rest of the fat-quarter bundle I'd bought, and when picking fabrics for this quilt, its contrast was squirrel-y, so I had rejected it again). It was covered in squash and had a definite Autumn feel. I fussy cut squash and pumpkins out of it at full-block size. And it got added to the mix of blocks (Fig. 4).
It might have started out as practice, but by adding my enjoyment of designing it right, it's perfect enough in the end.