Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Getting physical

Maybe I'll blog the making of this quilt.

Until today, the design was all in my head and on the computer (and on a postcard I printed of it and have propped up on my monitor). I don't have tons of time, so I need to plunge in and get my hands dirty, as it were. (Actually, they need to stay pretty clean now that I'm dealing with fabric.)

Here's the mess I made picking fabrics (after, of course, cleaning off all the random stuff that was covering the sewing table to begin with):

My first criterion in choosing fabrics was that I wanted to use very pure colors, not grayed-out ones. Partly because I like them more, and partly because the idea is to represent lush, tropical flowers, even though I'm mostly just sewing a bunch of triangles together.

In order for the blocks, each of which consists of twelve triangles, to create the illusion of circles and movement (which you can hopefully see in the diagram I posted yesterday), I need to invert the positive and negative space in adjacent blocks.

Since I also want to achieve an overall gradation across the quilt, the fabrics I select actually need to provide me with two different gradations. Each block uses two fabrics, and there has to be a pretty good contrast between them or the effect I want won't be noticeable; that was one of the things that became clear very quickly when playing around with the software last week.

The very lightest blocks need one extremely light fabric and another that's dark enough to contrast with it. And the very darkest blocks have to have one extremely dark fabric and one that's light enough to show up against it. I also want both fabrics in the lightest blocks to be significantly lighter than either of the fabrics in the darkest blocks. So I need a very wide range of values (value is the lightness or darkness of a color).

By alternating the darks and lights as I lay them out, I can make sure there's enough contrast all the way through the gradation. The fabrics won't be paired up one-to-one in this order, and some of them may not be used at all, but this layout shows me that I should be able to do what I need to do.

By the way, there were about nine light and nine dark fabrics in the diagram, and I have eleven of each laid out here.

The balance of colors is about the same - mostly bluish purples for the darks, with a few blues and a couple of greens. I didn't really have any light yellows like I used in the design, so the lights start with cream and then get into oranges and deep reds that are pretty close to what I had envisioned.

I've always hesitated to combine hand dyed fabrics with prints, but I'm going to do it here. We'll see how that goes.


Laylabean April 25, 2007 6:43 AM  

Wow, you are tricky. Just looking at that overwhelms me. I can't wait to see this one finished, it's going to be beautiful!

juliloquy April 25, 2007 8:41 AM  

How much fabric do you have lying around to be able to compile such a stack of swatches with materials at hand? Are there good fabric stores near where you live?

And are they all sorted and organized? I'm impressed.

Jennifer April 25, 2007 9:06 AM  

I have a lot of fabric, but I brought it with me. I bought most of it at closeout sales and factory seconds and stuff - along with the pieces or sets I would buy myself as a treat when I went to a quilt show.

And I've dyed probably two bolts of fabric all together by now.

There are a couple of actual quilt shops in Costa Rica, but I'm allergic to paying full price for things, so I usually only use them if I need something really specific, or for tools & notions that you can't get any other way.

It is actually pretty well organized because I haven't made anything for a long time, and that's when it gets all messed up ;)

lisa April 26, 2007 6:22 AM  

Why don't you put a link to your June 11, 2006 and June 22, 2006 posts and really wow her?

Jennifer April 26, 2007 1:44 PM  


Because! That was when I was getting ready to make a custom quilt for Anita, and I totally let her down. It's been almost a year and I never did it.

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