Design Process Part 2

Drafting a Quilt

My idea behind this Design Process series is to take you through a start to finish quilt-along. I've chosen a bunch of fabrics I'd like to work with and now it's time to decide what sort of quilt block to use and what the quilt is going to look like. 

The way I always begin a new quilt is to pour over my many books of just quilt block designs. Rather than looking at finished quilts, isolated blocks force me to make my own design decisions. Do I want to turn the block on point? Should I add sashing, have an A/B combination of two block styles, do I want to make modifications on the block, etc. 

Each time I go through my books that I've been through a zillion times before, I constantly see something different. Ideas start to form and a direction becomes more apparent. Evaluating the prints I pulled, I realized they are all of what is called low value. This means I do not have any contrasting fabrics. There is no right or wrong here. Having contrast can be a very dynamic tool--especially useful in patchwork quilting to make a quilt block design stand out. 

Lately I have been drawn to low value quilts and decided this was the perfect chance to play around with this style. Understanding how my prints choices and their value will greatly affect a quilt design. I have now narrowed my design choices to blocks that don't rely on contrast. 

Now the wheels are starting to turn and I also remember another quilt technique I am lately fascinated with--cutting up the same print and putting it together in strips to almost create a new print pattern from the patchwork. Let me find an example on line...

Here we go! A nice example of what I am thinking of. Molly Flanders has a blog and is making these courthouse steps blocks where the same print in cut into strips and sewn back together again. Log Cabin style blocks are well suited for this look. 

Image from Molly Flanders blog

Now that I know and understand how I'd like my quilt to look I still have a few more details to figure out before I can begin cutting and sewing. 

  • Block layout
  • Finished size of quilt
  • Number of fabrics to use
  • Cutting size of pieces

I use Adobe Illustrator to mock-up my quilt designs but you may have Electric Quilt or the tried and true, low-tech graph paper and colored pencils method to draft your design ideas. What ever works, spend a little time flushing out your ideas. The design I have decided on is a Courthouse Square sort of look that isn't a block. Huh? Let me show you what I am planning. This will not be as easy as making a block because I will be making strips rather than blocks and need to plan out the strips before piecing them. But this quilt will be an interesting, interwoven looking design when it's done, hopefully :)

Rush Hour by Sharon Holland Designs

I am calling this design Rush Hour because of the directional arrows created grouping 5 strips together. Looking at the arrow shapes, there are 72 (full and half arrows). I plan to use 18 different prints and each will be used 4 times in the quilt. This will make a controlled scrap quilt and make the cutting instructions greatly simplified!

Next post will be about figuring out strip cutting sizes and how to figure out yardages for the 18 prints, backing, and binding. Meanwhile I will play around a bit more to see if I want to add a border around this design or make any other changes before I start cutting into the fabric.