Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Do You Approach a Quilt?

DFD quilt, WIP
Wrestling to quilt my "Damn Fine Day" queen size quilt in my home studio

I've scraped together some bits of studio time over the past few weeks and have managed to make a lot of progress on my personal projects including getting three quilts near to finished! Two just need binding now and one is ready for hand quilting with my new q-snap frame.

As my list of WIP projects slowly but surely diminishes, I can't help myself but start to dream up more and sketch out quilt ideas that I've had on the back burner. I'm not the type to get through several quilts in a year due to my museum work, teaching, etsy, and grad school (yes, I'm crazy), but I do so like making plans and there is nothing more inspiring than a cleared worktable and fabric that has waited so patiently for its turn in the ring. Whether it's planning, starting, or finishing a quilt, it's an activity that allows me lots of creative freedom while also calming me down and focusing my overly-scheduled self.

Quilting PlansI should invest in some graph paper, but find reusing the back of
scrap paper around the house is so much easier to grab when an idea strikes!

We all have different ways of going about a quilting project and I find many of the different approaches help the quilter focus on whatever part of the process they most enjoy. For me, I can't get enough of playing with different patterns and colors as well as how to best combine my fabric choices with an appropriate piecing and quilting design. I wish I had a big ole design board but the low slanted ceilings in my attic studio won't stand for it (get it?! ok, sorry 'bout that one...). Instead I often reach for paper and colored pencils which allow me to still envision the overall look (but, alas, does limit the ability to improv-piece). I love the drawings all on their own and find it a relaxing activity I can accomplish while catching up on a favorite tv show without being stranded in another room away from my husband in the few hours we have together each day.

I usually start with a person/holiday/purpose that the quilt is destined for and start to play with fabrics that would be a good match. I've been getting more adventurous in my groupings, sometimes sticking to just one fabric designer/line, and sometimes combining lots of different ones for the desired effect. Recently, I've been toying with the low-volume trend and arranging designs of different scales or illustrated vs. pattern to achieve what I'm calling a "sketchbook look." My fabric choices are usually quite bright and bold, but I try to keep my walls and decor very neutral and sparse so textiles can stand out in nice way (as opposed to looking like clown vomit).

Quilting Plans Fabric I've started to set aside for Valentine and Halloween quilts:
Sometimes I let things sit out where I can see them for awhile to see if I like they way they work
together over time, also allowing for the combination of new/unexpected fabric releases

Not every sketch or fabric stack I dream up becomes a quilt, but those that do definitely evolve over time for me and therefore represent a range of memories, decisions, and build on my evolving skill set (every quilt I make seems to make me realize how much more I have to learn!). How about you? What influences the way you approach a quilting project? What is your favorite part of the process and how do you go about putting a quilt together that highlights that part?

1 comment:

Sfredette said...

I tend to get flashes of inspiration while commuting - it's at least an hour of driving each way, so it leaves lots of thinking time. Then when I get to work or home I sketch out the idea. Usually I think about the design for quite awhile till its fully hashed out in my head - right down to quilting plans and what batting to use. The few times I haven't done this, the project lingers in the closet...I'm trying to not start any more closet projects. :D