Make a quilt pattern your own...

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Registered: 09-05-2003
Make a quilt pattern your own...
Fri, 04-16-2010 - 12:46pm

baby steps to creative quilting:

Here are Carol Miller's tips for unlocking your creative side from the April newsletter for Quilt University:

"It's okay to take baby steps.  Start simple.  Make one change.  What should that be?  Let's assume you are working with a pattern from a book or magazine.  Suppose the designer shows the pattern with a light background?  What would happen if you made it dark?  If the pattern calls for a medium blue, a dark green and a light background, how about choosing more fabrics?  Instead of picking one blue, choose anywhere from 3-12 different blues.  Stay within the guideline of medium.  Do the same thing with the green.

"Were you planning to buy a big piece of white for the background?  You have a couple options.  You can use a wide variety of white on white prints instead, including different creams and pale beige as well.  You could choose to use light values of green or blue.  Lights are the hardest colors to find when you go fabric shopping but if you make a habit of buying at least one light of some color on every trip, you will eventually build up a nice selection.  Solids are okay but fabrics that look like solids from 5 feet away are even better.  Swirls of two colors together are wonderful.

"My personal approach to stash building is to purchase fabrics in half yard pieces unless I already have a use for them, love it so much I know it will be used often or know that it is unusual enough that I will be sorry if I don't have more.  In that case, I buy a yard.  That means that instead of having 3-5 yards of ONE fabric I like, I will come home from a shopping trip with 6-10 DIFFERENT fabrics.  Using a wide variety of fabrics with the same value and color adds depth and texture to your quilts.  It makes it more interesting to look at and definitely more fun to sew them together.

"What happens if you change the value as shown in the pattern?  If they show all the triangles in a dark value, what happens if you change half of them to a medium value?  Or a light value?

"If the pattern shows a red and white quilt, what happens if you add a third color?  In fact, what would happen if you ignored the colors altogether and just made the quilt based on value alone?  That is what a scrap quilt is, an arrangement of random fabrics based only on their values.  As long as you place the darks where they belong, you can use any color at all.  Some people do this by drawing fabrics out of a paper bag.  That's one step too far for me.  I want more control than that.  Not every piece of fabric looks good standing next to every other piece of fabric.  You can usually make all of them work together in the same quilt but they need a little breathing room.

"Here's the best tip of all.  You don't have to make a whole quilt to try out all the possibilities.  In some cases, a single block will let you see how the fabrics, colors or values work together.  You can make one, take a picture and then manipulate it in the computer to see a whole quilt.  Or make a color copy, duplicate it and create a paper quilt.

"Another way to audition fabric is to cut a 1" strip from all your choices.  Cut off about ten 1" squares and then cut some of those as half square triangles.  If you have a small 4-patch that needs squares, you can cut some of the squares into 4 pieces.  Use these to lay out your revised quilt design.  If you are planning to have color changes across the surface, you will want to lay out more than one block.

"Graph paper is an invaluable tool.  Draw out the quilt to scale.  Just pick a value for each square on the paper, such as 1 square equals 1".

"Remember, one step at a time.  One change at a time.  The idea is to make a quilt that makes people go WOW!  This is not achieved by rushing through the process."

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