Thursday, February 28, 2013
Composing a Quilt: for Eleni
So. The girls. For Eleni and Bela (who are roommates too), I have been collecting fabrics for over a year. I just happen to begin this one with the idea of it being a grid layout of approximately 12" blocks but I wanted to take a lot of liberties within those squares. Some are tiny patches, some strips, some 9 patch, and some whole 12" squares of fabric. I had just finished working on Nicolas's quilt when I began this one. It seems I was a bit more in the mood for order, most likely because I had so carefully chosen a palette over a long period of time and I wanted to use it in a very effective way. This can be a challenge when there are so very many colors.
I worked from the center out, literally beginning by joining 4 tiny 9-patches into a single 12" block. I then let those colors dictate a certain collection of 9 more fabrics, which you can see here. With those I made six 9-patch blocks that are all exactly the same. They form the tall cross in the quilt that has the tiny 36-patch at it's center. At every step out towards the edges I made decisions with careful looking at what was happening so far, but with very little thought of what would happen next. I think this is my personal favorite way to work. It's like painting. A little here, then look. A little more there, then tea. Still more, sit and ponder. But I did commit to sewing every time I saw something I liked. Like a rule I set for myself.
Something that I find really helpful and enjoyable is to let the fabrics them selves guide some of my decisions, and I mean more than just the color assortment. The forms themselves can inspire much. As with the boys' quilts, the fabrics are almost all my own or Denyse's with a few choice Kokkas thrown in. That particular Kokka piece on the right above not only captured almost the entire palette of the quilt, but the print itself feels like a patchwork so I left it in large whole blocks. I considered the direction I would orient the piece for a while though, in other words, what colored edge of the piece would be adjacent to what other piece of the quilt. When you have a single piece that varies so much within the print, this becomes pretty important, and that decision can really take the whole composition in various directions. The larger, patchy star shapes in the print itself inspired the half wheels that are appliqued at the right and left of center, as well as the sets of 3 half Dresden plates appliqued top and bottom.
Setting these half wheels at the right and left of the cross bars helps to further the medallion like quality of the composition. Eventually the four 1/4 wheels set further out also echo the growing center. I enjoyed creating this piece immensely. Even though it employs a symmetrical balance of color and fabric, I see a little something different every time I look at it. It's also the perfect home for the little bits of Bohemian that I still have, which the girls begged to have in their quilts.
Naturally, I obliged, for my sweet, exuberant -and very centered- nine-year-old Eleni.