A Little Idea and Some Scribbles

They call this a quilt?

It’s a little embarrassing to show you my scribbles (don’t know what else to call them). Promise you won’t laugh! I wanted to show you how an applique quilt is designed. I’m finishing up quilts for Spring Market and I came across the original graph paper with my Rabbits Prefer Chocolate design. I smiled as I looked at it, because the original scribble (very child-like don’t you think?) is not as the quilt ended up.

If the truth be told, not a single applique quilt that I have designed has ever ended up as it started. As I work along, the quilts take on a life of their own. Sometimes I get stuck and sometimes they just falls into place. I never know what to expect.

To design applique you must have patience, patience, patience. I am put to the test many times over and often think I will not be able to finish! You have to be willing to redraw, move blocks around and then redraw the designs again. I work on a design over a relatively short period of time and I live almost every minute with it. When something isn’t working it’s my husband who makes me quit and take a break. He tells me to stop, get some rest and start again in the morning. I hate it when he’s right, but every designer needs someone to tell them when to STOP! It’s key to success.

I start with an idea, a basic layout, some drawings and a fabric line I’ve selected that I think will work with my design. For example, I needed a lot of browns for the bunnies and I choose the Wuthering Heights line because of the many assorted browns. Then I pull in fabrics from other lines, because it adds contrast and that “spark” that is critical to a quilt. I also makes it much more fun for me!

My original graph paper layouts always look like children’s drawings. I quickly sketch in the drawing that I think will work and then I move onto the next part of the quilt. If you look at the drawing on the left side of the photo you can see that I originally started with tulips and flowers all over…well off they came as I went along. As Martha would say, “it a good thing” (: More bunnies were added and Rabbits Prefer Chocolate was born! You promised you wouldn’t laugh!

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  • gloria g. - Wow! I love it! Thanks for sharing this part of the process. I am enjoying Rabbits Prefer Chocolate right now, and Pumpkin Hill. Two applique quilts at one time. But I love everything you do, so I can’t wait to see what’s just around the corner! I’m sure there is another bouncing around up there in your brain and your heart! I just love your whole process!!!! Please share more…..

    But your husband is right. Sometimes a fresh day will bring new light on the subject, new ideas and precious little bunnies!

    fondly, gloria g. Richards, TXReplyCancel

  • Vintage Collage & Quilts - Isn’t graph paper wonderful for this type of thing!ReplyCancel

  • Darlene - Dazed Quilter - Thanks for sharing – a friend and I refer to graph paper as GP1 (we don’t have EQ6). Nice to see that someone else used GP1. teeheeReplyCancel

  • Kim - It’s funny how quilts DO take on a life of their own as you go along. I love your “Rabbits” design and started the class at Bear Paws & Hollyhocks in Sacramento, but as I went along, the rabbits morphed a bit–they’re still rabbits but they’re doing slightly different things. I think I have some kind of “bunnies on wheels” variation going. I had to set it aside for some other projects but I hope to get back to it soon. I’ll send you a photo if it ever does get completed. I love your work! Thanks for sharing an insight into your process.ReplyCancel

  • kaffy - it’s great how in a just a few quick and simple lines you can give a pretty clear rough of what you want to create that everyone can understand. its something i have been getting to grips with recently on my illustration course and is a very useful skill! it’s always interesting seeing the working behind the lovely things people make:)ReplyCancel

  • Patti - Absolutely not laughing! I find it just fascinating to read about your design process. What you designers do completely amazes me, and it’s nice to know that the idea doesn’t spring forth “full grown” in your mind. We who use the designs all you talented people create have no idea of the amount of work that goes into making them. You give me hope that someday I might create something original myself. I tend to think that because I can’t draw something perfect on the first try that I can’t do it at all. Thank you so much for the inspiration!ReplyCancel