Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Evolving a Quilt

When my niece Emily and Seb announced their wedding date, I knew I wanted to make them a quilt. I just didn't know what kind. I did know it would be nice to have signatures of their wedding guests, so I got yards of Kona Snow and researched some of the fabric pens available. After doing some testing, including running some test swatches through the laundry, Pentel's Gel Roller for Fabric in blue got the call.

At the wedding party, I set the fabric and pens out on a table. Jill had made a nice sign, and Seb's brothers Samuel and Simon made several announcements encouraging people to contribute. I'm not sure what all they said, but there was much more than just names: congratulations (in several languages), poems, jokes, drawings...

I brought it home and thought long and hard about what to do. The differing sizes of the patches, plus the different densities of writing within them, made me really struggle with what to do. I had some early ideas of doing a more or less traditional design, but I was starting to see more and more modern quilts on blogs and thought I should do a modern quilt for a modern couple. I came up with a rough design I really liked, but couldn’t figure out how to translate it into fabric. Plus when I cut apart the patches, it became apparent that they were too big and too varied for that design concept. (Maybe I’ll make it some day…)

I usually use Electric Quilt for playing with quilt designs, but it isn't all that useful in improvisational designs. Maybe some people don’t need to design an improvisational quilt at all, but I felt like I needed some structure before just sewing random pieces together. So I went back to graph paper, and roughed out the bones of the design. I also used it to estimate the finished size, and sketch in potential quilting designs. Once I had column sizes, I could start cutting the background fabric (Kona Olive) to go with the sig patches.

I wanted staggered rows to look like stacks of cards, arranging the patches to get a good distribution by how much writing was on each. I didn't want all the drawings clustered together, for example.

Here I'm getting the rows sewn together with olive background between them. It's looking a little blah though. I had several patches reserved for each background swath, and decided to border those in blues for a little extra punch.

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