Saturday, November 9, 2019

Once Again, From A to B

I talk a lot about how I start a quilt without a fully formed idea in my head, and that's true, but only partly. I NEVER start if I don't know where I am going. I may not have a COMPLETE idea, but I do have an idea and I have a pretty good idea of what I want it to look like when I get started. If I am not sure, I don't start. I do something else.

For my granddaughter's quilt, I knew five things.

1. I knew it was for a little girl, 3 years old
2. I knew she loved dinosaurs
3. I knew I didn't want the dinosaurs to be overwhelming. I wanted the quilt to have longevity.
4. I knew it would include bright happy colors, flowers, animals and perhaps insects.
5. I knew it would be a diamond quilt, and I have those "wired" which means I totally understand how they go together and what makes them "tick" and how to make them "work."

It can be argued that the success or failure of a quilt depends on fabric selection. I had to do an internet search for dino fabrics, as my "usual" sources had thin options. I ended up buying five one yard pieces from Spoonflower, but they had the large scale dino fabrics I thought the quilt needed.  One of them had roses in it, which made it automatic because my granddaughter's middle name is Rose.

These were the large diamonds I already had in my leftovers bin that I wanted to use in the Dino Quilt.

But I also knew the quilt needed other things. Since I have so many leftover elements from other Diamond Quilts, I didn't think I'd need to buy more fabrics, but when I found the pink with fawn (above), owl, chipmunk, rabbit and fox, I thought it was gorgeous. But was it "too pretty" to be in a dino quilt? I wasn't sure, so I texted my DIL. You can see her reply in the screen shot above.

I placed orders with three online fabric vendors. One order arrived almost immediately, but I had to wait a week for the other two. But I could start. The diamond quilts have seven vertical rows of large diamond, evenly spaced. So I made some plumb lines, and figured out where they should hang. These would be guidelines to help keep the design straight. They are just crochet cotton with whatever I could find as a weight at one end, tied to a pushpin that got stuck at the top of the design wall. They are dead useful in designing quilts.

Here you can see the string of the plumb line as it divides this big diamond in half, keeping it straight.

I may have had to wait for SOME fabrics, I did have stuff I could work with, and I knew the small scale dino prints would work as the medium sized diamonds. So I placed the big diamonds I already had on the wall, leaving spaces for the big dino diamonds to come. And then I filled in with the medium diamonds. I can hear you thinking. Lynne, you're NUTS!

Actually, NO, I'm not, because when you fill in the design wall, that isn't a complete design, it's just a START!  You don't really know if your idea is going to float until you have all the various elements lined up in one place. Now, if you make a quilt from a kit or a published design from somebody else, then you generally don't have to worry about this because somebody else has made all those decisions for you. (If you have a block that uses five fabrics and you make a test block and the fabrics don't look the way you expected them to.. that's good to know before you make all of them. This is the same idea.)

OK, I'm gonna get on my soapbox here and a lot of you might get a bit pissed off, but here goes:

I don't care HOW GOOD you think you are. An idea in your head will NEVER look exactly the same on the design wall as it did in your head. An idea will ABSOLUTELY look different if you graphed it out on paper, colored it in, or used a computer program. YOU NEVER KNOW until you SEE the REAL THING in front of you. And a little bit of it does not equal the whole thing.

And JustGail, who asked yesterday if I used a camera to get a different view, the answer is most emphatically YES! Go read this post for the most recent example.

I told you I planned to use the smallish dinosaur prints as the medium diamonds. And that was a good idea, but it turned out the quilt was WAY TOO BUSY, so I had to replace SOME of them with other prints. You can see a few of them here in this photo of some of the blocks that have been sewn together.

I make all my design decisions as I look at what is happening on the design wall. I look at pictures in the camera (OK, my iPhone), but the decisions are made in front of the real thing.

It was my painting teacher, Armand Szainer, who told me that it was more important to BEGIN than it was to finish. Begin, begin, begin, he said. What he meant was that it was most important to look at whatever it was you were doing with a FRESH EYE, to not fall in love with it, and to BEGIN AGAIN if it was not working. You cannot get ANYWHERE unless you GET STARTED.

Success in your head doesn't mean squat. I used to tell my painting students to put more damn paint on their palettes. "It isn't doing you any good in the tube," I'd say. Same thing with quilters and their stashes, "You can't eat fabric," I tell my students. "It isn't very good at heating your house, and you already paid for it. Cut the damn stuff up and make quilts."

Any questions?


Dorothy said...

Thank you----my ideas NEVER look the same in person as they did in my head. there is always something that looks either better or worse in real time. You are so right --you don't see it all until it is right in front of you "in person". love you :-)

Marty Stanchi said...

Very well said. I love seeing your process.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Nope - you nailed it. Loving the way this quilt top is shaping up and I'm 1,000% certain Little Miss will LOVE LOVE LOVE it (and you).

Allison said...

Oooh, Lynne's got the bee in the bonnet!

Nancy said...

When I was an art student...ummm 50 years ago. LOL Starting was the HARDEST thing. Good advice.

Mary Ellen said...

Truer words were never spoken. Begin, just begin. Such a simple idea but it seems to hamstring some folks. And yes, you (at least I do) absolutely have to see it "in the flesh" because, as you say, computer pictures, graph paper renditions, etc., just won't do it.

Linda Swanekamp said...

I can't thank you enough for explaining your thinking. It makes such sense to me and helps me not get lost in the process.