Friday, April 01, 2011

Stage One: Design, part two

Modeling, aka Research

Once I have a theme down, and some idea of what I want to put in the quilt, I start figuring out what the pieces will be, and potential block sizes. If I’m doing appliqué, I have to start working on outlines. I might trace, or I might draw things out myself. Since most of what I do is patchwork, I have quite a few techniques to help me through the modeling process.

I usually make a list of possible things to put in the quilt. I then sort through old patterns I have used, to see if anything is right for the present quilt. For the medieval ladies quilt with flowers, I’d already copied down some flower patterns from a book, so I had some possibilities to look at. I also already had a full pattern prepared for the ladies, from a previous quilt.

I should back up a little here—I love looking through libraries' quilt books. At the BGSU library, there is a book with lots of established patterns in it, usually simple and classic ones. I’ve gotten a few blocks from there, and modified others. I’ll take a piece of graph paper and copy down the blocks I like, whether current-quilt-relevant or for future ideas. At the Wood County library, there are shelves and shelves of quilt books, both general and specific to themes. I looked through a sweet one recently, Quilts from Nature by Joan Colvin. It seriously revolutionized my life, not so much for the quilts I’ve made for others, but plans for projects I want to do for my own home. It has some genuinely awesome patterns in it, and some techniques for creating blocks I hadn’t really considered before. I also have used a great one with patterns of magical characters, called Spellbinding Quilts, by Maaike Bakker. The aforementioned lady pattern is a very simple modification of one from this book.

The patterns don’t always work for my needs, in fact, so I have to redesign them. I copy them down as is, but then I redraw them, again on graph paper, in a more convenient size or with alterations to make the piecing easier. If I am working with a very specific theme, I’ll look for books on that theme (as with the circus animals—a book with Noah’s Ark animals came in very handy, as did the Go Wild quilt books by Margaret Rolfe). There are thousands of quilt books in the world. I look for books that have fairly simple designs that match my skill level and techniques I prefer to use.

Eventually, I have a few sheets of graph paper with patterns all drawn up in their proper sizes.

Best Part: Satisfaction of finding just the right block, or the right set of blocks. If at some point I have thought, “This is perfect!” it’s been a good modeling session.

Worst Part: I can’t really think of one. This is one of my favorite steps. Sometimes I do get a little pang of concern for how much graph paper I’m using. It can also be kind of time-consuming.

Next: Full Design

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