The Design Process

July 21, 2010 § 3 Comments

Design and art are a continual learning process. The longer I quilt the more I learn (obviously).  Lately, I’ve been trying to document my design process. I have always sort of known how my process works, but I’ve never really tried to document it – you know, how I get from conception to the finished product – on paper. Easy for someone else to understand. Something tangible for me to use to show and explain how I got there.

I have several hard cover, blank page books in my house. Most of them are pasted full of magazine clippings, how-to articles, quilts photos, recipes, you name it. I call these books my inspiration books. When I need a little inspiration I flip through my books. Some of these books have drawings in them, other quilt related sketches and design ideas. Unfortunately I typically have one drawing for any particular quilt and then I don’t document how I get from point a to point b to the finished quilt. I know how I got there but nothing is in writing. And that’s fine. Until I try to remember how or why I did something. My designs have always just come to me. I generally start with a vague idea in mind and the quilt evolves from there. No pattern, no real end product in mind. I might get inspiration from a quilt I see, some fabric or any other number of things  – the way the road curves, a rug, a photograph, a piece of art, a magazine cover – you get the idea – and often I incorporate the elements from different quilts into a quilt of my own.

I recently decided that I need to start drawing/sketching my ideas in one book so I could see how I get from beginning to end. Follow the process. Leave it as my legacy. It’s been interesting. It’s also helped get the quilt related “clutter” out of my head. Once it’s on paper I don’t really have to remember the various components I’m considering and my brain feels free.  Plus I can reference my little black book at any time. I keep it on my kitchen counter, along with the black fine point Sharpie pen, so I can just “get it out” whenever needed.

I decided that I wanted to make an English paper pieced hexagon quilt before Q man was born. I googled, looked at blogs, and other quilts to get some ideas. I spent endless hours searching and researching and I found this quilt. I immediately fell in love with it – how the colors played into each other and the quilt moved. And I LOVE Japanese quilts and fabrics!

This quilt was made by an 83 year old Japanese woman. Impressive! *

I went through my stash and pulled out all my grey, black, cream, slate and taupe fabric. I didn’t have a lot so that meant a trip to my favorite quilt shop. I spent a few hours there and ended up with about 40 fabrics in the color range I wanted. After washing and pressing the fabrics I cut a snip of each and arranged them, light to dark, on a piece of paper so I wouldn’t forget the order. I cut a million little paper hexagons and what seemed like another million little fabric hexagons. Finally! I could start my work.

I basted almost all the hexagons I’d cut and wanted to start making the parts. Each circle had a center with the next “darker” fabric in the middle.  I was happy that my sheet listing the fabrics was a good idea even though I didn’t know it at the time. My plan was to have the quilt move from one side to the other going from light to dark. Basically, I’d follow the same general design as the quilt above but instead of using blocks I’d use hexagons and they’d flow into each other which seemed reasonable since the colors moved from light to dark.

I had close to thirty of the circles made when a friend and I laid them out at the shop for the first time. I didn’t love it and I couldn’t figure out why. Sarah, the owner of Intown Quilters and lover of all quilts bright and wild not muted and neutral, noted that it was really drab. And it was. But that wasn’t what was really bothering me because I liked the colors, or so I thought.  I was getting frustrated but kept on making circles. I made a few more and laid them out on my living room floor one evening. I asked husband what he thought and he said “it looks like a bunch of little flowers”. That’s it! That’s what’s bothering me. I didn’t want all the flowers. I wanted the quilt to flow from color to color or blend and the flowers caused too much contrast. Back to the drawing board. Sort of.

I decided to add a hexagon to two sides of my circles, giving them a top and a bottom,  and making them into diamonds. After adding pieces to several more circles I once again laid the parts I had on the floor. I still didn’t love it and now I definitely didn’t like the blues and blacks.  I did, however, like the neutrals and how they played off one another when I took out all the other colors.  I liked how there wasn’t a lot of contrast between the pieces and knew that I’d really be happy with the quilt if I incorporated some very subtle pinks and purples and let all the pieces blend together.   This is when I admitted to myself that I didn’t want to make a drab grey, cream and taupe quilt.

I’ve now decided that I’m going to randomly piece the hexagons and let all the pieces blend together.  Kind of an English paper pieced scrap quilt if that sort of thing even exists.  I’m thinking once the center is finished I’ll use the diamonds along the border. But that, too, may change.

* these photos were taken by Jennifer from – just making sure I give credit where credit is due –



July 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s been busy around here this week.

Little mister’s best girl came over. Much madness ensued and bubble (and bubble solution) was everywhere!

When bubble madness ended there was general chaos in the house. Much running and giggling and chasing. I thought they pooped out sitting on this chair….then it turned into a great photo op!

And upside down

Q man took it all in.

And grew some more….

My sister-in-law came into town, too. It’s always such fun when we get together. We went to East Cobb Park and managed to snap a few photos of everyone playing.

Or as Little Mister would say, we were FUNNING!!!!

I never knew the merry-g0-round could be such fun! I’m glad it was!


July 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

A friend of mine gave me some adorable burp cloths when I had Q man in March. I absolutely LOVE them and use them all the time! She bought them at a boutique shop just north of town. I quickly realized that burp cloths like these would make perfect gifts. They are super easy to make and I have a lot of friends having babies right now.

To make them buy a pack of white burp cloths (or colored or patterned if you want). Embroider child’s name about 4″ above the bottom of the burp cloth. I kept the name centered on the thickest part of the burp cloth – actually, my Mom did since her machine does embroidery. Thanks, Mom!

Next, make a pocket and insert the bottom of the burp cloth in it. I chose to have a 3″ high fabric border, leaving a few inches between the bottom of the name and the top of the fabric border.

Stitch down close to the top. I used a 1/8″ seam.

I like to give these as a set of two. It makes a nice presentation and it’s something you always need when there is a baby in the house.

Folded and bundled with a ribbon makes the perfect presentation!

Hoppy Bird-day Two Ewe

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hoppy Bird-day to ewe,

Hoppy bird-day to ewe,

Hoppy bird-day two ewe,

Hoppy bird-day two ewe.

Little misters friend turned seven this week. The party was on Saturday and all the kids had a blast! Everyone ran around laughing and playing, getting wet in the sprinkler, riding bikes and big green machines!

The birthday boy….

We’ve known the birthday boy since he was a twinkle in his dad’s eye. It’s been amazing to watch him grow up! He’s the oldest in our bunch on the street. He’s kind and gentle and a joy to have in our life.

Blowing out the cake (the only photo I managed to get)

Q man hanging with Callie

And at the end of the day a helmet and umbrella – because like all good boy scouts it’s good to be prepared.

Letter to the Jail

July 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

We went to church today. We haven’t been in a while (a really long while) and I always feel so good after I go. I guess it’s just comforting for me – the songs, the service, the prayer. Everything about the service is familiar. It’s like having an old friend wrap her arms around me, as if to say, “Hi. How are you? I love you. I’ve missed you. Welcome back.”

I love our church. It’s beautiful, and historic.

I find the homilys much more interesting as an adult. I suppose it’s because I actually reflect on them through the week. Past that, too. A powerful message sticks with you for a good long while.

Now I’m not the most religious person, quite frankly, and I’m surprised that I’m even writing about church. I do have a strong faith in God and do believe that it gets me through many of the trials and tribulations of life.

Today the Monsignor at our church delivered a powerful sermon. The message was that it’s harder to be a good Christian and easier to look the other way. To drive that point home, he asked several church members to write a letter to a woman in jail. We were leaving church when he asked, and how do you say no to that?  But, how do you write a letter to someone you don’t know? It’s like having a pen pal, but not. And unlike having a childhood pen pal, as an adult you know what you can and can’t say. The few things I know about this woman is that she’s well educated and in jail. She’s also apparently, and understandably, feeling down. I have to wonder why she’s there, but certainly won’t ask. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in jail. I never want to know.

I suppose I’ll get out my pen and paper later and send her a line. It seems like the least I can do and such a simple gesture will make someone’s day better.

Hopefully much better.

Blairsvegas or Bust!

July 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

We spent the 4th in Blairsville with my parents. It was a great weekend – and not just because it was ten degrees cooler and we could sleep with all the windows open.

Little mister got a Toy Story Rocket Launcher sprinkler and he thought it was THE BOMB!

Mimi was handled the control tower

Q man was less impressed

The flowers were beautiful

And so was the view

I made some more of my English paper pieced flowers

Mimi and Papa were happy to spend time with their favorite little people

And when the weekend was over we had one tired little toddler cuddled next to his Dad.


Patty Young

July 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night I went to my FAVORITE quilt shop to hear Patty Young. The lecture was great…..Here’s what Intown had to say about the event.

We rolled out the red carpet Wednesday night for Patty Young, who drove down from Bloomington, Ill., with her husband Jon to visit the shop and talk about her career, pattern and fabric inspirations, and provide lots of great sewing tips for using her new knit fabrics for Michael Miller.
More than 40 folks turned out for the presentation, which was both fun and informative. We were treated to a sneak peek at a couple of her upcoming patterns for women (which had many of us at the event super excited), too.

She brought several samples from her line of ModKid Sewing Patterns, all made with fabrics she designed for Michael Miller. Even though I’ve heard Patty talk about her fabric at International Quilt Market, I still learned quite a bit about her design process and how her travels and experiences play into the fabric. She even teased us a little by telling us just the tiniest little snippets about her next line for Michael Miller. Not fair! Guess we’ll just have to wait until the big reveal in October.

One of the highlights for me was a video Patty shared with five techniques for finishing the hems of knit garments. Even though I have sewn with knits, I do not consider myself an expert on the subject at all, and I found the information incredibly valuable. Patty promised that Jon will be editing the video so it’s broken up into five parts and then posting it to YouTube. We’ll definitely be sharing a link to the videos when they are up (and I think I’m going to work on some samples for the shop in the mean time so you can see them in person).

Following her presentation, Patty was kind enough to autograph her patterns and the copy of Where Women Create in which she’s featured, as well as pose for pictures with everyone who asked. We even managed to get a picture of her with the IQ staff in attendance (I’ll share as soon as I get it), taken right in front of the Patty Young wall at the front of the shop.

Thank you so much to Patty and Jon for coming to IQ on their way to Bernina University in Orlando! Thanks, too, to Michael Miller Fabrics (and Patty) for providing two fabulous door prizes (two stacks of knits, each with a ModKid pattern)!

And for those who’ve been waiting for it, Patty’s new line of wovens — Play Date — is now in stock! We’ve even got some fat quarters cut and ready to go for those FQ-friendly projects you’ve got in mind.

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