Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Intense Learning Time

The Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2016 is over. I have been on leave for the last few days and I have not done one scrap of quilting. In fact, my sewing room is such a mess that I would need to clean up before doing anything. And I am exhausted...I went for 3 days straight...on the bus, to town every day with lots of walking in between.
I am still on my design kick and am going through a very steep learning curve.
I took a class with Claudia Pfeil at the Quilt Festival which was about designing Wholecloth quilts. While this was a great class, it did not give me what I needed...we basically designed a Wholecloth around different size borders, similarly to an exercise I once had done with instructions from Patsy Thompson. Don't get me wrong, Claudia Pfeill's Wholecloth quilts were lovely and I don't want to knock the class. It was fun and it certainly is one way to go about designing a Wholecloth.

Not sure what I was looking for...I looked around the show and came across a really fantastic book by Judy Woodworth (as well as another book from Karen McTavish...how many books do I need?). The title looked promising

This book is very good and includes the 'how to', what tools to use, a little bit about feathers, designing a pattern, designing a Wholecloth quilt, some of Judy's designs and much more... it even has a section on thread painting. She certainly packed a lot of information into this one book! While I had come across many of the ideas in the book, it did make me stop and analyse where my 'block' is. I have got a lot of great tools (i.e Cindy Needham's stencils, rulers, gadgets...), I can draw somewhat and I can come up with little ideas...the issue centers around visualising the bigger picture and seeing it come together as a unified whole where you can see how things fit together and have a look at the general design, proportions and placement.

Now you can go and draw these things by hand, then make multiple copies like I have done the other day for an allover Wholecloth, however for a detailed design that becomes incredibly laborious. I did experience this in the last few months with my Mandala design...I spent weeks on getting my drawing right to the point of stitching with lots of time spent on redrawing sections I did not like...the stitching was really the easy part!

I have got EQ7 and that does help a bit, however EQ7 is not a drawing program. While it is do-able (i.e you can import an image), I was starting to realise that I need to make my life a bit easier. I have got an old version of the drawing program 'Serif Draw Plus' and finally went ahead and updated this to the newer version yesterday. Oh, the bliss...should have looked at this earlier as they have made several excellent improvements...now you can trace shapes with a B-spline curve which in my simple terms fixes the curve as you go along. Tracing on the computer has been incredibly difficult for me in the past, but with this new tool this is a breeze...a little bit like magic
So I drew a little design of just one small curl for testing and here is how that evolved into something quite usable
Scanned the drawn image of one curl (no doubt influenced by Karen MacTavish' book) into the drawing program, traced it with the B-Spline tool which was super easy, little bit of a tidy up here and there, re-sized it and made multiple copies on the page I was working on, grouping two together as a motif and then arranging them in this frame. Grouped together like this, I now have the freedom to enlarge or reduce, change the thickness of the lines, add or remove sections etc. Imagine this filled in with some featherwork...this could look quite good! I might even attempt to draw some feathers in the program...need to experiment more with this.Also played with the Autotrace function which the old program also featured, however I had only used this sporadically.

 Look at this traced image

Wrapping Paper - copyright 2013 of the Wrapping Paper Company (wwwwrapco.com.au)

Taken from some wrapping paper that had these pretty images of roses all over. I could have traced this, however that would have taken some time. In addition, it probably would have had some issues as I am not sure whether each shape would have to be closed or not. Still learning about this. I probably would have gotten there in the end, however here is where Autotrace came in handy. Had to do some tweaking but this came out unbelievably pretty and clear, considering it was set on a brownish background...autotraced the shape, got rid of the background with the cut out feature and now had an image that could be re-sized, coloured etc. Very impressed with that little test. So if I am really lazy, I could draw my feathers and have the program autotrace them. This is very neat.

Next thing I will do is to scan Cindy Needham's Master Copy of her Ultimate Stencils into the drawing program to use as a background to draw on. This way, I can 'play' with concepts for block designs on the program before drawing out the detailed design (idea came from Quiltshopgal who spoke about importing this to EQ7 the other day). This will save some trees...you should see all my drawings all over the place!

I am actually quite excited about this. So from last week's allover Wholecloth I now have at least three additional quilts in my head. The rate I am going I am not going to have time to do any quilting!
Experimenting, learning the improved program, trying out different ideas and designing workable patterns takes time.



  1. Wow. What fun. I've never used Serif Draw Plus, but certainly am drawn to your approach. Just did a quick look at the software and I'm very interested in getting it. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing what you create with it. Off to watch the videos for this software.


  2. You're doing so many neat things! I would have no idea where to start! I have EQ7 but rarely use it. I find it very cumbersome. Might look into Serif Draw Plus. Hope I can figure it out!


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