21 October, 2009

Quilt Along Week 1 - Launch Party

This is it, week 1 of the Gratitude Quilt Along. Thanks for joining me, it's going to be a lot of fun. Let's jump right in.

This quilt is made, quite simply, by cutting fabric into strips, sewing the strips into sets, cutting out blocks, and sewing those block together. It's pretty straightforward. The bold design is realized through good fabric selection and cutting the blocks on random angles. This week is all about fabric selection.

How do I pick my fabric?

Your fabric selection on this quilt will really make the design pop, so take some time this week to play with your fabrics. The final design of the quilt is based on a high contrast between your accent strips and your background strips. This contrast can come purely from colour, but value matters more.

Value - this is the distinction between light, medium, and dark in a colour.
Colour - this is the visual perception of where you see your fabric compared to the spectrum of red, yellow, and blue. (But did you really need a definition?)

This quilt design works best with a light or medium background and a dark accent. I would also recommend that your dark accent be a different colour, but with good fabric choices you could do this in a single colour way, as long as your values are high contrast. My recommendation is that your background fabrics be in only one or two colours and that they relate to each other well by having a few fabrics with both colours in them.

Alternatively, I think it might work if you used a dark background with a light accent. That could make a really interesting quilt.

If you are having a hard time picking your fabrics and determining value, pull out a digital camera, if you have one, and take a picture of your fabrics together on the black and white setting. Even viewing it on the camera's tiny monitor should allow you to see differences in value, without colour being a part of the equation.

One last note about fabric selection, go for a variety of textures in your fabric. I strongly encourage you to make your fabrics a selection of large, medium, and small prints. In other words, don't pick a whole bunch of small dots for your background pieces, try some dots, weaves, florals, hand dyes, stripes, or even large scale prints in a single colour. Having texture in your quilt will provide a lot of movement without it being too busy.

Let's go through my fabric selections to help you see how I work through this process.

This was my initial fabric pull. When I start a project I simply grab everything that looks interesting. About half of these were in my stash and then I spent some cash in the LQS to augment the selection. The inspiration for the colour scheme actually came on the street one day. Out for a lunchtime walk I spotted a girl wearing a grey pinstriped suit with with a navy polka dot blouse and yellow shoes. That was months ago and the colour scheme stuck with me.

I love all these fabrics together, but for this design I'm pretty sure the lights won't work.

In this grouping I pulled out all the lights. I also pulled out the Amy Butler with the pink dots. Hmm, but then that Kaffe looked too peachy instead of golden, so out it came.

But I kept returning to that Denyse Schmidt Katie Jumpr Rope Yellow Dot and the Amy Butler Midwest Modern Floating Buds. I love those fabrics. I so wanted them to work. This will happen sometimes, but my choices were lose those fabrics or change all my background fabrics to work with these lighter values. I went with losing the lighter ones (and hanging on to them for the back of the quilt).

This is my final selection. I'm prepared to be flexible and change some these after I cut. For now, though, I really like the way this is looking.

How much fabric do you need?

That really depends on how large you want to make your quilt. I've put together a small table to help you determine fabric requirements. These are only estimates based on what I used to make Gratitude. You may want to have some extra fabric on hand if you are really stuck on a certain sized quilt.

                                (inches unfinished)

(42 by 48)         6.5        42
(45 by 54)          9.5        30

(63 by 63)         9.5        49
(60 by 60)       12.5        25
(72 by 72)        12.5        36

(81 by 90)        9.5         90
(84 by 96)       12.5        56

To make Gratitude I used 8 different fabrics in 1/2 metre pieces This gave me a finished quilt of 63 inches square. I think it is a good idea to pick at least 6-8 different fabrics for teh design to pop. If you want a bigger quilt than you can either use more of each fabric or use more fabrics.

I realize that I haven't given you specific fabric yardage. This is because this is about process, not pattern. I want you to play with your fabrics - new or from stash - to come up witha combination that works for you. Just take some fabric and start cutting and sewing. Because this quilt is about process you may start with one size on mind and change it partway through to make a larger or smaller block size, or a larger quilt. If you are looking to other sized quilts let me know and we'll work our fabric requirements together.

I prefer to use yardage as opposed to fat quarters for this. You will be sewing your fabrics into full length strips and then cutting them into blocks, so having a selvage to selvage strip will make your life easier. It is possible to use fat quarters for this too, but it will require some piecing into longer strips, or sewing more strip sets.

Did that all make sense? I hope so. But if it didn't, email me or post a comment and I will answer it as best I can. If you are going to post your progress on your blog, please let me know so I can create a blog roll. I've had some people express interest in following along with all the participants.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's efforts and creations! Thanks for joining me.


Lesly said...

A wonderful beginning, Cheryl! This is going to be fun!

Anonymous said...

Loving those colours you have picked - can't wait to see how your quilt progresses! :)

Unknown said...

I would love to do this with you, but alas, I have so much holiday sewing to do that I can't get wrapped up.

So for now, I will just giggle and smile when I watch your video again and hear your cute Canadian way of saying "about".

Jessica said...

Those are some great tips on how to pick fabrics---that part is always the most challenging for me!

Amanda Jean said...

i LOVED the video welcome. and to answer your question, no, it didn't take long to load at all. i also liked seeing the selection process of your fabrics. i love what you are using together. after reading through your post, i think i might try to go with majority of dark fabrics and then go with a lighter accent color. i'm all about stretching myself these days.

Rene' said...

As much as I'd like to play along, I think I'm going to have to watch from the sidelines. Too many last minute Christmas gifts added to my "to make" list. Looks like fun...I'll follow along and hope for my turn to play next time ;-))

Marisa and Creative Thursday said...

Yay! Cheryl!! Great job and beautiful, inspiring quilting :)

Jessica said...

Love your video!!
it makes the quilt-blogging world more personal, if that's possible. :)
i'd love to quilt along, but life's pretty hectic at the moment (baby, grad school, and family health problems), so i think I'm going to bookmark your quilt along and come back to it when i have time. Excellent post, look forward to seeing more of the process.

Unknown said...

Hi Cheryl! It's great to see you and hear your voice! I tried a couple of times to get a video together for the festival, just didn't make it :(

I love your fabric selections, and your process! I'm working within a new deadline - so I can't play. Have fun!

Val said...

I am just a beginner quilter. Is this too hard for me? I would love to join in.

elle said...

Cheryl, if ya get a minute this weekend, could you jog over to the coop and check out my egg yolks. I'm in danger of watering down the omelet!