Monday, November 29, 2010

How Do You Design?

Many times, when I get a quilt from a customer, a good design for the top is apparent. I make this decision from an aesthetic and cost consideration standpoint. Rarely are the tops I receive quite as intricate as the things I piece, and then eventually need to quilt. It's the old adage "you get to clean up your own messes"!

I am working on the design for this quilt. I hope to start the quilting in late December or January 2011. I have posted pictures to a couple of quilting forums, but as anticipated, few people really want to make comments on what to do! So I am left working out a design for the quilt, row by narrow row, and then determining whether I have the tools (and skills!) to stitch it.

Often I print out B&W photos of quilts and sketch on them in pencil. This allows me to take them with me and doodle when I have time. If I have less of a time crunch, then I like to use my Bamboo (Wacom) pen-tablet mouse. With this, I use Adobe software and the pen mouse, and just "write" on the pictures. I can turn on or off certain areas of the quilting to audition which I like best. I can copy and paste things to different areas. It takes a little getting used to each time I use the software, but check out what can be done...

Let me show you how my design progresses...

I started by thinking that this 4.5" border of alternating black & white stones would look good with pumpkin seed/curved cross hatching. I'd do some kind of filler in the diamonds to make the X's pop. This is tedius, as I'd likely do this with a template, and the circle is only a 1.5" diameter! It seems a little boring I keep thinking.
So then I try the pumpkin seed/CC so that the design is done in diamonds, thereby creating a secondary diamond pattern of the design. This may be going somewhere. I just need something to fill the brown triangles in with. Stay tuned...
Next I moved onto the sections of New York Beauty blocks. I did a few perturbations of this design, but the older ones were deleted. I have combined some of the same elements again: straight lines, some pebble fills, feathers, curved cross hatching and ruler arcs. I think it will take forever and a day to quilt, and that it will be super tedius, but it will look good. It will also have several thread color changes. Phew...This next border is made up of 3/4" stones...960 little squares to be exact. I know, I know...What was I thinking?? That is beside the point now. Now I just need to find a way to quilt this little thing so that it all lays flat, and as a goal, I want to accentuate the scalloping ivory stones too. Seems easy enough. Famous last words~
The above design concept is not the first one I sketched. It's another design that will require my finding and purchasing a 1.5" diameter circle template in order to quilt it neatly.
Now, moving on to the outer border. It has a large (ha ha, it is only 3" wide, but seems wide in comparison to the scale of the other pieces in this quilt) black row, and stripes of 3/4" outboard of it. Where this is the largest real estate I have for quilting, I want to utilize it well - you know, showcase what I can do, and attempt a pattern that might have even been characteristic in an antique mosaic stone floor. Lofty goals, I know. Here's my first attempt. I drew scalloped shapes, filled with pebbles to make the scallop pop, then filled the background with feathering. I like this, but then I got a comment on MQ Resource from Ronda Beyer about maybe doing a cathedral window concept. It may well be a small push for her CC rulers (which are awesome and have been on my Santa's list for a bit now), but it is a good idea. I just really thought I didn't have adequate space to do something like that.
Back to the drawing board... Here's my latest on the outer and brown borders (may have to double click to see the green quilting lines). I placed cathedral windows in the black 3" border, then filled the diamond space between them and the pumpkin seed/CC diamonds of the brown row with a feathered shape TBD. I think I like this a lot. The cathedral windows would be quilted with either dark gray or black thread, but I don't know what to do the feathering in as it is half in black and half in brown. These are always considerations of the quilting, or else I'll find that the quilting design will just disappear when I go to the different color fabric!

The outer 1" strip of black will just be done with 1/4" parallel likes. I have yet to decide if just SID is adequate for the three stripes in the interlocking border. It seems a touch boring. I still have a few other details to work out, but feel better knowing that I have a plan for the outer border (since this is ultimately where the quilting will start from). Now, just to figure out what size CC ruler I need to order to make the cathedral windows happen!!

So, I repeat...How do you design?? And what of what I have shown here would you keep versus redesign??!


Debbie said...

I really enjoyed your blog today. From reading your blog over the past few months I have seen the necessity of "planning" my quilting prior to stepping to the frame. I've seen ladies using their ipads for quilt designs. I enjoy the old process of laying onion skin on top of an enlarged copy of a photo of the quilt top and working with you the doodles eventually lead to something I like. I almost always make changes at the frame no matter how much planning ahead I do but it sure makes me feel more confident when I start.

Cheryl M. said...

The designs look great, I think the cathedral windows idea really puts a pop to the border strip. The feather that is between the windows is a nice touch also. Just a suggestion to the design crossing two color fabrics. In the feather that is stright maybe put the indiviual feathers in just the right place that you can change the color in mid design. I know that this would mean a lot of thread changes, but you already have a few thread changes already. In something like this the best suggestion I give is "enjoy the process of designing and seeing it come to life". I'll be looking forward to see it in the near future.
Cheryl M.

Unknown said...

So pretty! I hope to be 1/2 this good one day. Thank you for sharing your ideas and how you do such pretty work.

Ivory Spring said...

This will be stunning. Can't wait to see more pictures.