Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How does one start a Quilt

September 18 2013,

When people see my quilt I have often been asked how I come up with the design.

Sometimes it is an inspiration from a single fabric, a picture from a book, an object, in nature, or a doodle.

In my mind's eye, on some quilts, like the "Falling in Love" or "Midnight Glow" I have an basic idea. of how I want it to look. For these abstract quilts, I don't make a grid on paper and color in what I want the final product to look like. I skip all that tedious steps.

Let's take the "Falling in Love" quilt. I knew I wanted a colorful quilt and I wanted the colors to be the colors of the rainbow. The first thing I did was do a little bit of research on-line. I looked up what the colors are. They turn out to be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, also commonly known as  ROYGBIV.

Next I shopped for fabrics. For each color I would buy 4 -5 fabrics of that color that are of different shades and tints. For example, for the color red, I would buy a dark red, a red, a pink, a light pink and a pale pink. I then took a big piece of paper and drew big circles to show the approximate placement of the colors. Similar to the sketch below.
I would then cut up each of the fabrics into squares and create quarter square triangles with each of the different tones. I tally on a piece of paper of how many pieces of each color I have. Nothing with me is exact. So let's say I know I need about 2750 pieces. I divide that by 6 which gives me 460 pieces. So my goal is to make 460 pieces for each color. Sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more.

After making the quarter square triangles with the different tones, I had to figure out how to tackle the transition of the colors. I started mixing colors. For example the indigo / violet color will be next to the red color - so I made a bunch of pieces with those two colors so that the transition between the two colors looks seamless.

After all the pieces are created, I clear out a large space in the living room and start designing the quilt on the floor. I start from the corner closest to the window moving outwards. This way I don't get stuck in a corner. This process takes approximately 5 hours. Some people have asked if I have a design board, I say no and inform that that I do it on the floor. Because the quilt is so large before piecing, I don't think the wall would be large enough to put a design wall on it.

As I am laying out the pieces, I still have no idea of which piece goes where. I just start putting them down in sections. I knew I wanted the darks in the corners and the sides, and the lights in the middle. Once I finish one section, I would stand back and take a look at the direction the quilt is taking. If I don't like it, I'll replace the pieces for others. As long as I stick with my basic idea, which is the sketch above and darks in the corners or the sides, and a little bit of luck, everything always comes out fine.

That's how I design this particular quilt. Start with an idea, start with a basic sketch and cut pieces and then assemble. It looks complicated, but it really isn't. It all starts with an idea and a picture of it in my mind.

Quilt & Bitch


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, because I had been studying Midnight Glow and had figured out, okay, she only made some colour combinations, but how did she know how many blocks to make of each one? I like your intuitive approach. Do you think it keeps you interested in the quilt more than if you sketched it all out precisely ahead of time?

Quilt+Bitch said...

HI Textisle,

Thank you for visiting this blog. The answer to your question to how many blocks did I know to make.

1. I measure my wall
2. I figure out how big I want the quilt to be (minus 5-10 inches from the wall measurement.
3. Divide the measurement of the wall by the size of the finished block (2.5") and I get my column. I do the same thing for the numbers of row.

I made the "Midnight Glow" quilt the same size as "Falling in Love" so that I can switch it out.

Your second question about keeping the quilt more interesting.

I don't do precise. Sketching it out requires having a more precise plan and sticking to it. For me, it would be a waste of time to sketch it out because I won't follow the plan anyway.

It my mind's eye, for these two quilts, I can see what the quilt should or will look like even before I start buying the fabrics.

Isn't that the fun of quilting? Trying to create something out of just fabrics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this helpful explanation. We have similar approaches although I find it hard to focus on just one project and don't have the space to leave something large of this nature as a work in progress!

BTW I wasn't ignoring you for the past couple of days, long story short I had problems resetting my WordPress password and only just got back in!