Saturday 17 December 2016

Design Process

I have not been blogging lately due to general hectic around this time of year. Layer that with getting distracted easily, a good dose of a migraine the other day and the annoying mess that had mysteriously spread out in my sewing room.

I have been FMQ my Bethanne Nemesh 'bird wall hanging' over the last few weeks, however half way through I thought it would be fun to start the design process on my next wholecloth.

For this wholecloth I thought that I put into practice what was demonstrated in a class that I attended earlier in the year run by Claudia Pfeil. In terms of designing I have to emphasize that this is only one of the many ways that one can design a wholecloth. In this class we worked from the center out. Basically you have your main design in the middle and then throw some borders around until you reach your desired size. In doing so you would use a select number of FMQ designs, use echoing and mirroring of design elements until you reach a visually pleasing arrangement. Easier said than done.

I did not want to repeat what we had done in class so I used one of the designs that I had drafted previously on Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape and decided to use a diagonal layout. I start my first draft on paper and while this must appear painful for some, it is the only way for me to get my head around dimensions, how big I want the design to be, where to start the next border and how big the quilt top will end up. In this case I used Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencils for orientation, first the Circle one to put a simple outline around the little drawn design and then I overlaid this with the Square Stencil to put the surrounding borders in. This worked fantastically and I now had a workable model. The stencils are enormously helpful.
As you can see I went it a bit overboard with the borders just doodling away. This looks laborious and it is, but for me this is a very important process...while I am doodling, I am thinking this through, i.e. what will this look like quilted? what will recede and what will come to the foreground? More often than not I do not get this right as you can see in the example, and the design will just fizzle out into mindless doodle as I already know that I will have to do this again. I would usually do this again several times until I feel I have got it right.

I have done some exploration around drawing on the computer and while I can get the basic motif and a general outline happening in my drawing program (which is useful to work out some sizing), I cannot draw the fillers to this level of detail with the basic drawing program that I have on the computer. Carla Barrett has some useful blog posts about designing wholecloth quilts digitally using a tablet...that got me a bit interested, however I do not have one of those and I certainly do not want to spend more money on yet another electronic device. Carla uses a tablet PC and Photoshop Elements. Maybe at some stage...for now, I have my Ipad, so I started to do some exploration around this. I have several drawing apps for the Ipad which I use to practice FMQ designs, nothing fancy, just a bit of doodling. When I was at the shops the other day I bought a decent pen for the Ipad. As it was, I also downloaded the Adobe Draw app and Adobe Capture (initially really clueless what I would use Adobe Capture for).

And then I started drawing...easy to use and the possibilities opened up. Some examples:
Planning my feather on a photo of the quilt top. This was useful as it gave me a bit of an idea of what shape to use in what section.

Next came a surprising fun design
Filled my little previously drawn design with colour. Really quite like this...could use the Accuquilt shapes that I have to construct an Applique design like this. You can see I did not get the border size right. In the App you just drag the shape out with a pinch and that is a bit fiddly at first, but the name of the game is not accuracy here. This is just to get a bit of an idea what this would look like and for that it does the job.

Then I tackled the wholecloth...haha, and worked out what that Capture app is for. With the capture app I was able to photograph my little design (which I had previously drawn out on the computer as the motif has to be accurate for later tracing). The motif then could be magically saved into the Library which I could then use in the Draw app.  This is how I got my center motif on the Ipad (as I was not going to draw that again!). From there I just placed borders around it and started filling them with FMQ designs.
I went into a lot of detail to see how difficult this was going to be. While the Ipad screen is somewhat limiting (had to zoom in and out all the time), it definitely is possible to add a lot of detail. A bigger screen would be better, i.e. a tablet, however depends really what you are going to use this for. For my purposes this is quite ok as it will give me a picture of what this could look like. Accuracy is similarly not important, as I am not going to use this picture as a template. The actual planning around this wholecloth in terms of sizes of the borders will be relatively easy to be worked out once I decide on how many borders and what fillers I want. The centre motif is already drawn up...just needs a bit of a tidy up. While initially awkward to draw on the screen I was getting the hang of it at the end. Had a bit of a laugh, this wholecloth looks suspiciously like the last one...had to do the grids, even on the Ipad. Just love doing that. Did not finish it ...the last border will be a feather frame, but my juice ran out.

Also played with 1/8 of a slice of a wholecloth...another way of designing a wholecloth. As the app has layers, it is relatively easy to draw your 1/8, then duplicate and rotate and construct your wholecloth that way. But more of that on another day.



  1. I really like where you are going with this design. Center medallions and corners compliment and pull the overall design together really well.


  2. Beautiful designs,Karin! Whatever you decide on, it will be gorgeous! Love your designs!

  3. Oh yes please...that is super awesome wholecloth you got happening there!!!

  4. Hi Karin! FABULOUS post!!! May I direct my Facebook/Blog Stalkers to this? Really, really good information on your design process. Hugs, Cindy :)


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