Ever wonder where people get their unique quilt ideas? Most inspiration doesn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere but is derived from previous work. This can be seen in the work of Michael James’s Rhythm/Color series and Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Illusion series.Doing quilts in a series is an evolutionary process. It begins with learning the basic components of a specific quilt, such as fabric selection, cutting, piecing, and block assembly. After the essential elements of quilt construction are understood, gradual modification to the design and/or construction can be undertaken. The decision as to what to modify is up to the quilt maker and evolves as the quilter evolves in the creation of the quilts.
Creating a Quilt SeriesLet’s use the log cabin quilt as an example of this process. When making the first log cabin quilt, energy is focused on the process of cutting, sewing, squaring up, arranging the blocks, and sewing them together in the proper order. But once the process has been internalized, the mind is freed to contemplate other possibilities. Sometimes it is a new way of constructing the quilt and sometimes it is a change in the design of the quilt.
The original log cabin quilt is made from white and dark strips of scarp fabric, all the same width, cut to the appropriate length and sewn around a central square. The light strips are sewn on two adjacent sides and the dark strips on the opposite adjacent sides.A modification in construction could be to trim each log to its appropriate size after sewing, during the squaring up process.
In the quilt Stepping Out, a strip of dark fabric was placed among the light. The setting is also slightly different than the traditional barn raising layout. I wonder what it would look like if a light strip had also been placed among the dark and if the traditional barn raising setting had been used. Ah ha! The question leads to another quilt.
In the quilt Barn Dance, the traditional barn raising setting was used however a rainbow of color was used with the light being a tint of the dark hue. A black ribbon was woven through the blocks as well.
Continuing the process of modification, what would happen if the strips were not the same width? The sample block was created with the dark strips finishing half the size of the light strips. This change creates a gentle curve in the design line between light and dark rather than the straight line of the traditional block. The block is also smaller.
In the Log Cabin Star quilt, multiple changes were made. First the strips were different widths. The dark finished half the size of the light. Second the strips were sewn around a diamond rather than a square. The diamond has two sharp points and two flat points. In the center and outside rows of blocks, the dark and light strips are sewn around opposite sharp points. In the center row of blocks the dark and light strips are sewn around opposite flat points of the diamond. The third change is the fabric color. The blue remains the same however the light gets darker as it moves out from the center.
Give it a Try
Try this paper and pencil exercise to see how your creativity evolves when drawing a series of circles. Divide a sheet of paper into 2 inch squares. Fill the first square with circles. Then fill the second square with circles that are different somehow from the circles in the first square. Continue in this manner filling each square with different circle designs. I am willing to bet my vast fortune that you will be amazed at how your creativity evolves as you progress across the page.