Friday, September 11, 2015

My Design Process and A Few Quilts Too...

I have been really slacking in the quality blog post department, for that, I apologize!  You can really tell when I get busy around here because my posts become more "show and tell" than posts.  Well, I'm not lacking in work - and that is a true blessing - but I do want to make an effort to share a little more about my process here.

When I talk to a potential client for quilting it generally begins with a photograph.  Sometimes that photo is after the quilt is in my possession, but because I work from home and have very little open space for photography I love when folks send me a photo before hand.  Here's a photo Darlene sent me of her Seven Sisters quilt when she asked me to quilt it for her:

The next phase in the process for me is planning design.  Sometimes an idea comes to me right away - maybe I see something in the patchwork and know a quilting element that will really work well immediately.  Other times I scour books, magazine, the internet, or my own past work for inspiration.  Even more frequently I take that photo and simply play with ideas until I get hit with something that works.  Something that is REALLY important to me is to come up with my own designs.  I may borrow elements or draw from others, but I want my own work to be unique to me.

 That was really the case with this quilt of Darlene's...she always brings me the most unique designs.  I played this one for quite a while before something I really liked hit me.  If I'm really lucky - my clients like the idea too!

I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet to draw my designs onto the photograph using software that came with the tablet set.  If you do a lot of custom work it is a fantastic tool.  There are times when something I've drawn up doesn't play well when I actually get to the quilting - so I do try to leave some room for changes.  Lucky me this time everything went very smoothly!  Here's the finished quilting - not a wonderful photo I'm afraid because I took the photo late at night just to have a few before I sent the quilt home early the next morning.  In a perfect world all of the quilts I work on will have a photo shoot before they go home.  :)

I shared this quilt belonging to Wanda in my last post but I'll show you how I used this process for her quilt too - and do so for just about all of the custom quilts I work on.

It REALLY helps me to envision the quilting before I quilt it.  Planning each and every quilt can be tedious but it is tremendously helpful in not only communicating design to clients, but also seeing how things will actually look before I sew a single stitch.  I admire folks who can load a quilt with no plan start to finish and come up with something amazing - but that method just doesn't work for me!  I have way fewer "oops - that doesn't look very good" moments if I know ahead of time to some extent what the quilt will look like.  You can get an idea of what will work with the actual pieced design and what will not.

I never realized until now how fun it is either just to sort of see the before and after photos side by side!  I'm going to have to do that more!

Now something to really watch out to be sure you can execute the designs you come up with.  Since you are "just drawing" on the computer it is very easy to get carried away...or forget the actual size of the patchwork you are dealing with and create a design that is ridiculously intricate.  This sort of happened to me with Jane's Dear Jane quilt:

 When I drew up the design for this quilt I wasn't thinking about the fact that her gray sashing was only about 1" wide by 6" finished...or something close to that.  Whoops.  She gently reminded me in an email and we decided to go with the intricate design despite the small sashing because it just worked so well.  But definitely creates a lot more work than it seems in real life than on a computer.  (I'd like to think the finished product was worth the extra effort!)

I have some more amazing quilts in store for you in upcoming posts.  I cannot believe some times the quilts people send to me - they are fantastic and so very beautiful!  I truly love my job!


RetiredRN said...

Great Blog Post! There are many people that do not realize the work that goes into planning, preparing and completing the beautiful quilting that you do. You are a God gifted artist that ALWAYS provides the customer with piece of art that overwhelms the heart and eye. Beautiful work always!

lauraluvsloons said...

I enjoyed this blog post too. The before and after pictures are fun to see. I can't wait to see more of you design process. Great inspiration for us all. I'm discovering how much I enjoy designing my own motifs for each block and quilt too. That's the fun of fmq, getting to produce something truly unique.

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Great post!! I try to draw on my iPad, but find the programs I have are limited. ..or I amLOL

Karen said...

Hi, Valerie: Great to read about your design process for your amazing quilting. It's fun to see how the quilting brings life to the flimsy.