|From instruction to inspiration: A peek inside of process
||[Jul. 24th, 2008|10:03 am]
First, let me make a confession: Avid quilters do not make quilts to give as gifts; they give quilts as gifts in order to have an excuse to make them. It would be 10 times easier and considerably less expensive to just buy something off the shelf. But then we wouldn't have a reason to play with fabric.
This observation comes by way of my fabric orgy of two nights ago. As I was pulling fabric out of the dryer I thought, I should take a look at the pattern again. I pulled out the book. I found the picture.
I discovered that I didn't like the pattern at all anymore.
Actually, that's a misstatement. I still liked the pattern's basic concept. But in the months of gathering fabric, that concept evolved in my head. I remembered it as being far less symmetrical, far more whimsical, and involving a much broader color palette.
When I looked at the original again, it was just not as visually exciting as the one my brain had conflated. And the one I want to make is the one in my brain.
The problem with the one in my brain, though, is that while I had this abstract idea of it, I didn't really have a clear picture. I'd left it to broad brush strokes, because I thought I had a pattern to rely on. So now I was looking at piles of fabrics that I love, but lacked the "engineering" to begin putting it together. My right brain had a pretty, but abstract, picture. Now my left brain had to kick in to figure out the math of it.
The original pattern idea was quite simple: Squares of bright novelty fabrics broken up by lines of smaller, black-and-white checkerboard "trails" across the quilt. In my mind those trails were an irregular pattern that strayed around the quilt. In the pattern, they are just 3 or 4 sets of very regular "steps" starting high on the left side of the quilt and ending lower on the right. In my mind, the color palette of the brights was extremely broad. In the pattern, it's limited to the red/yellow spectrum of colors.
What I want is the checkerboard trail moving irregularly through the quilt, and the many bright fabrics. I am not worried about using the fabrics to create specific shapes (the stars, houses, baskets, etc. that so many quilt patterns are about). I want this quilt to be a treasure hunt: there will be cats and dogs and fire engines and princesses and chop sticks and dinosaurs and cars and trains and many, many other fun bits. I want this to be the kind of quilt that a child can look at in a "Where's Waldo" fashion, where she will have favorite blocks and ones she doesn't like. That is the point of the quilt. So I am retaining the simple square structure, though in some places a single piece of fabric will span the space of two squares because the picture on the fabric requires more room.
In the original, the checkerboard squares, which are half the size of the others, are the only uses of black and white fabrics. But I have a bunch of bright designs on black backgrounds that are too large to really be seen in such small squares. So I will be adding a border that is a larger checkerboard, which will allow me to use those larger patterns.
And of course since I'm working across the whole color palette now, I will have to cut out all the fabric squares and put them on a design board in order to arrange them in a manner that doesn't muddy the checkerboard and is pleasing to the eye.
It's a good thing this baby arrived in the summer. It's going to take a while for me to finish this, but she's not going to need the quilt for a while.
So that's it: the tale of how I went from copying someone else's pattern to using it as an inspiration. It's more a variation on a theme than an original, but I feel good about it. Pictures as soon as it's a physical reality and not just a more wholly formed idea in my head.