I prefer to make scrappy quilts, with many fabrics used in the design, and try to select the fabrics in each block so that they are evenly distributed on the quilt top but similar or same pieces don't end up side by side. Kind of controlled randomization - not truly random, because in a true random disribution sometimes the same pieces would end up together. But, it seems like the harder I try to evenly distribute the fabrics, the more those similar fabrics seem to congregate!
The quilt I am currently making has 42 blocks. (See previous post for picture). Each block has an Ohio star in the middle, with differently colored points in each block. Around the star are six pieces of fabric which form sashing when the blocks are joined. I started by laying out 42 center squares, then 42 sets of points and background pieces. Then, on each pile I distributed the sashing pieces, being sure that colors and similar fabrics were not duplicated in a block or in adjoining blocks.
Nevertheless, while assembling the blocks I have to keep trading out pieces so that the same fabrics don't end up too close together in the sashing. It's exasperating. The harder I try to remove patterns in the distribution, the more they appear.
It's a little bit of chaos theory right here on my kitchen table.