Monday, February 17, 2014

Puzzle quilt: process post/Tutorial

I've made this kind of quilt three times now, first with Izabella's Puzzle:
then as a green/blue/yellow quilt for a baby:
then as Patriot's Puzzle (the red/white/blue quilt):
You can read my post about my process using EQ6 software to sort out the idea for Patriot's Puzzle in case you're looking to do a similar thing and can't decide where to start, i.e. what fabrics to use, how many of each fabric, etc - keeping in mind that you don't need any special software - you really can just pull out some paper and colored markers. I still do that, sometimes using graph paper when I'm first considering a design or layout.

Yesterday I pulled out my stash and sifted through it, looking for some kind of inspiration for a baby quilt (the one I've been trying to design for a stack of gray fabrics) - the baby is due in a few weeks so I'm really feeling like I need to just settle on something. I decided to pull out every color that was not 'girly' since the baby is a boy. I made a pile of every blue, green, yellow, and black fabric, as well as a few oranges, reds and purples that read as blues and grays. Here is the pile:
Well, as nice as it is to have a pile of fabrics to work with, it really wasn't very helpful in getting me closer to my goal of picking a design. So this morning, after mulling some more about the idea of the quilt, I sat down again and sifted through the pile, pulling out anything that was not blue or black. There were some greens that begged to remain so I sorted my final pile into things that read green, things that read turquoise, then blue/purple, grayish blue, straight blue, black, gray and white:
As I was sorting them like that, my mind went back to the green/blue/yellow baby quilt and I decided I would make another puzzle quilt with these fabrics. I used EQ6 to change the coloration on the green/blue/yellow baby quilt to more of a gray/blue with some green:
I plan to leave the white-on-white border area and there won't be as many greens as show up in this mock-up. I will also add in a significant amount of gray/black, especially prints that read one or the other, so I will probably leave out some of the busier black/white prints. Now I'll make another pass through the rows of fabric and weed out anything that screams too busy or not right. Then I'll make sure I have enough lights, enough darks, and the rest mediums. Here's another mock-up with more blacks/grays/blues (keeping in mind how incredibly limited the palette is of 'fabrics' in EQ - I think you can upload or import additional fabrics but I haven't done that so I've only got about 3-5 of each color to work with):
I think the real visual impact of this type of quilt is accomplished by ensuring sufficient contrast in value (light vs. dark) in the pieces and how they are matched up. This is done in three steps - 1- ensure you have true lights and true darks (if all your selected fabrics read as 'medium' value, you won't achieve the necessary contrast); 2 - when pairing up the squares to be sewn into half-square triangles, make sure some of the lights are with darks, some mediums with lights, some darks with mediums, etc; and 3- arranging the squares on the design wall - I can spend hours and hours on this part (spread over weeks and months), rearranging until the placement is visually pleasing to me. For me, I like to have stark contrasts of light vs. dark, but then parts that blend together so that the dark/light parts really do stand out compared to the overall quilt. But I do also like to create a balance, so that one side isn't 'heavier' visually speaking, than the other, as a result of the contrasting fabrics.

I'll post Part 2 later, once I've picked out which fabrics I've used and once I've cut the squares for the half-square triangles (follow the link to find a tutorial for making half-square triangles). If I cut 6" squares, then square up the half-square triangles to 5.5", each finished square would be 5" (since it's 10 squares x 10 squares), so the finished quilt (without a border) would be 50"x50", a fine size for a baby quilt. I only need to cut 100 squares for this quilt, but I'll cut 120 to give myself some variety for the design wall auditioning process. I just counted my rows of fabrics and there are 202 - so that's plenty to choose from and narrow down to 120. I think at this point it really does become an intuitive process- I sift and sift and just keep getting rid of things that don't 'feel' right for the project.

1 comment:

  1. Hummm...
    Very complex quilt!
    I am afraid my tryings in patchwork are very, very simple.
    Congratulations for your effort, I hope the baby boy shall like the quilt you are making to him.
    Thanks for posting and sharing!

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