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Which came first, the fabric or the design?

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Annie Posted: Fri, Sep 14 2012 8:28 AM

I am trying to branch out and become more original.  I want to create something. But I can't seem to put the first foot forward?  So I ask you all for your words of wisdom.  When designing an original (or semi-original) quilt, do you begin with specific fabric or a specific design (pattern)??

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Barbara replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 8:44 AM

Annie I do both  Sometimes I see a fabric and it just comes to me what I want to do , Other times Its a pattern and I have to pick the fabric,  Usually its the pattern first though with me anyway.

Liberty,Missouri

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Bev replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 9:51 AM

Hi Annie,

I am a newbie when it comes to quilting and wanted my first quilt to look like it was made out of necessity, like days of old. Which it does complete with me hand quilting it.

I guess you could say I started with a design idea (heehee), but that is probably not what you meant. There are A LOT of really beautiful quilts in Show and Tell on this site.

Maybe you can find an inspiration for a new design or twist for your own. I am still choosing patterns/designs I like and then getting the fabric.

Happy quilting

  from TN

 

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gini replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 9:59 AM

both.   if i find a fabric i love, i can design around that.   then you find a pattern that grabs you and you find fabric to work with it.

we should resurrect the ugly fabric contest.    that helped me a lot.   figuring out how to incorporate something unappealing into a pretty quilt.   everyone did a great job here.  it puts you outside your box and makes you really think about getting the best out of your fabric. 

 have you thought about designing your own patterns.

it helps using fabric that you would never use.   look at your stash and figure out which color you are short on.   you probably don't like that color.  design a pattern around that fabric.  color studies help.  make a series of wall quilts in different colors.  check out the crazy/art quilt group.  they do some fun things there.

oddly enough another thing that helped me was the twinchie exchange i was in.  we  exchanged two inch quilts.  sounds odd, but it helped with color and embellishments.

do something quiltwise you normally wouldn't even consider, like  a twinchie or an ugly.  do something that gets you so far out of your box, you are really uncomfortable.   it will loosen you up for originality.

when you look at first quilts and last quilts of famous quilters or even long time unfamous quilters.   they didn't start with an outstanding original design.   they had been quilting for a while before they branched out into original disigns.  a lot of them come from design backgrounds in other areas, too and had a head start.  you don't start out as an original, it is a skill you have to build, the more you build your foundation the more likely it is that your designs will become unique. 

 so knock your box down and jump right in with both feet.  never ask yourself why i can't do something, but ask yourself how i can  best do that.  quite often,  my first tries aren't my finshed items.

when i made that art quilt,  and i came to something i hadn't done before, i experimented with different techniques to get the one or perfect the one that worked in that situation.    and remember, quilting is fun and relaxing, enjoy the process.

gini in north idaho

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Hi Annie,

I have found that I usually fall in love with a pattern and buy right then and there. After that I have the pattern in mind when I shop for the fabric. Sometimes it take a while to find the "just right" fabric.

Georgetown CA I'd Rather Be Quilting

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gini replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:07 PM

so are you talking about picking fabrics.  often i will see a fabric i love.  most of the time its gaudy.  i use that fabric to pull colors that work together.   then most of the time i don't  use that focus fabric, but will put it on the back somewheres.   or if i really love it, it goes on the shelf for my to pet and admire. if you look at the selvedge it will have color dots of all the colors used in that fabric.  you can use those to select fabrics, too.  i try to get one a little darker and a little lighter than the dots as well as the same color.   use a wide variety of,  scale of prints,  that gives a quilt more visual interest.

i hardly ever use one shade of a color.   if i use blue,  i will pick out at least 3 other blues sometimes in the same hues, then mix them up.  your eye will still read the color as, blue,  for instance, but your eye moves around more with a variety of blues.

can you be a bit more specific on how you would like to be a bit  more original?

gini in north idaho

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MaggieNae replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:49 PM

I first started with two pieces of calico bought for a shrit and skirt.  Decided I was never going to make them.  So they became my first, twin sized comforter/quilt.  Then I found two green FQ bundles and they became my second in a similar pattern of large squares and HST's.  I started collecting fabric and when I found something I wanted to make, I would pull from what I had.  I found a picture of a kit I loved and thought,  I've got material that's close enough in my stash.  So all of that quilt came from there.  I have progressed in difficulty of patterns to need to go shopping for specific projects, but still pull from my stash when I need to pull something together.  I did a Bargello that I had to shop for every one of 20 pieces of fabric for. 

The last quilt I did was a trial of errors.  I picked my colors and pattern, went shopping, and started to put it togerther.  It was made of two simple blocks repeated.  Well, the second block, pulled from a ton of material bought on sale, did not go with the first block.  So I redid them in fabrics that were form the same line.  I then pulled from my stash just enough of two more fabrics to use up the first set of (what were now extra) blocks into a second quilt. 

I'm going to say, it's half and half.  If someone requests a specific pattern in specific colors, I'll go shopping.  But at this point, most of my shopping is going to have to be done at My Own Little Brick House Quilt Shop.  It's easy enough to find a block you like and start from there, whether you have the fabric yet or not.  It's supposed to be fun, so decide which part you like best. 

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Annie replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 3:18 PM

Gini, your first post hit the nail on the head for me.  When I first posted the question, I was thinking in terms of general ideas.  What got me thinking was EQ7 and the class that begins tonight.  What I want to do, really, really, really want to be able to do is sit down and create a design, pattern, etc and then fill it in with color.  I have always commented that I am a master  copier, but I don't feel satisfied with that alone.  I want to create something that is more original.  I love your idea about forcing myself to use fabric I tend to shy away from.  Your post is so full of great ideas, I need to re-read it and make sure I don't miss anything.  Thanks

Maybe we can start a twinsies swap, or an ugly fabric swap - one qulters ugly fabric may be another's most fav.

 

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gini replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 3:34 PM

annie, you're very welcome.  anything to enable quilting, you know.

the last ugly quilt we did, someone donated their ugly fabric, we each got a piece and made a quilt.  it was challenging and a lot of fun.   we didn't get many participants and it kinda dwindled from lack of interest.   i don't know that you will find much interest for a twinchie swap here,either,  but it was a lot of fun, too.

you should post your ideas in the swap group under the ideas for swaps threads and see how much interest you get.

gini in north idaho

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gini replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 3:43 PM

annie, i take a sketch pad and camera where ever i go.  i don't draw well, just good enough to get an idea on paper.   i use the camera for interesting shapes, colors, outlines, tiles, interesting patterns.   i was in a restaurant in branson that had wonderful tiles on the ceiling.  i snapped a quick picture.  

   when you go out shopping don't just think about how much milk  or how many eggs to buy, look around you as you drive for interesting things, like cloud formations, an interesting tree or house.  stop and get a quick picture.   you might not use these images, but it gets you in the habit of looking for cool stuff, and looking at the world in a different way.   that's a big step.  

   creating art is an ongoing process . it doesn't start and stop at your sewing room door.    the more you look at the world through an artist's eyes, the more you will see.    and before you protest, that you only make quilts !!      making quilts - this  means you are an artist.   right now you might think of yourself as a copyist, but not everyone can copy art.  you are starting to think like an artist.    "what am i going to create?", now.

gini in north idaho

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Donna B replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 3:47 PM

Annie, I can attest the ugly fabric swap idea does really push your boundaries and helps you think outside your box.  I had that happen at a LQS ugly fabric swap...which resulted in me getting 9 extremely disimilar blocks along with the challenge to put them together into one quilt.  Take a look at my gallery...and find the "LQS Ugly Fabric Quilt"  heading.  I wrote all the harrowing details there and you might get a kick out of it.  It was really a challenge, but I learned so much doing it!

 Winthrop, WA

 

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Annie replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:27 PM

Gini,

I am so excited about the EQ 7 class.  I just want to be able to just create my own design.  I like what you said about keeping an open eye - literally, taking pictures and analyzing everything as a possible quilt pattern.  I'm ready to challenge myself.  I'll be sure to post any creations I come up with, although the wait might be a lengthy one. hehe.

Donna, I recently made 3 quilts out of men's shirts (friend's DH passed) and come to think if it some of those shirts were downright ugly.  after a lot of trial combinations, I  think they came out great.  

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Annie replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:30 PM

Donna B:
Take a look at my gallery...and find the "LQS Ugly Fabric Quilt"  heading.

 

Donna, See what I mean?  I think the fabric was quite pretty, not at all ugly.

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MNnancy replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 9:10 PM

gini:
the last ugly quilt we did, someone donated their ugly fabric, we each got a piece and made a quilt.  it was challenging and a lot of fun.

The next ugly fabric contest is coming up in January 2013.  I'll post details in the fabric swap group in December so people can think about it and respond after the Christmas rush is over.  I understand this will be too late for the EQ7 class, but class graduates could certainly utilize their new computer skills during this contest.


On the banks of the Mississippi River in north central Minnesota (Brainerd lakes area)

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