Monday, March 22, 2010
Inspiration and Planning
Every quilt starts with some source of inspiration. Sometimes it is specific to the person for whom I am making the quilt, for example, a baby with the name of a famous American may get a patriotic quilt. A bride and groom with a strong religious faith may have a religious symbol such as a cross stitched in (see Jenny and Brian’s quilt) or it may commemorate a specific day (see Austin’s fish quilt). Most of the time, however, the inspiration is not about the recipient but rather about me! I see a picture of a quilt, the tile pattern in a floor, or a series of repeated objects and my little quilt planning brain goes into overdrive.
As you saw in a previous post (Laura said yes!), I generally start the planning with a drawing on graph paper, which lays out the rudimentary design. Somewhere along the way, however, I accept that the quilt will take over and the plan will go out the window so I do not get into too many details with the initial plan. There have been many times when I have been traveling down a certain road with a quilt and had to go on a “staycation” for awhile – not working on the quilt at all – until I figured out what the quilt wanted to do next. I think this part of the process has often puzzled my spouse (or anyone else watching me make a quilt or waiting on me to finish a quilt), as it looks like I have given up or quit when actually, I am awaiting inspiration or direction!
So how did this quilt start? Actually it began with several visits to many churches in Italy and a picture in a book that brought all those churches to mind. Did you know in earlier times in most Catholic churches in Europe, the floor was the burial grounds for many of the clerics and other persons of note? Certainly a humbling thing to be buried in the floor and walked on by tourists for all eternity but then again, a great honor to be interred in (what is in most cases) a gorgeous space filled with light and art. I have visited Rome three times in my life: once as a teen-ager on a school related trip in 1971, once on my honeymoon in 2001, and in 2004 as a art history student – I lived with a Roman family for six weeks on that trip! I have also visited Notre Dame in Paris and St. Paul’s in London. Yep – folks buried in the floor there as well and around those slabs that bear their names and dates, you find intricate tile patterns.
While browsing a Kaffe Fassatt quilt book a few years ago, I found a quilt patterned after the tile floor in St. Mark’s cathedral in Venice. Immediately, all kinds of bells went off in my head and I knew this would be a quilt I would make. Now, most quilters “borrow” ideas from other quilts and quilters. It’s part of the tradition. It’s how all the old, old patterns were passed down. Most quilters, however, will find some way to make the quilt uniquely theirs and this, of course is what I plan to do. I love borders so my quilts usually start with a traditional or “borrowed” pattern but then spin off to be Allmendinger-Leiner originals with the treatment of that pattern and the borders added on.
Having planned my quilt and gathered my fabric (more about how I do that in another post), I begin the challenging decision about placement. I have determined to follow the lead of the Kaffe Fassatt quilt and repeat the color arrangement of the center square in each square; in other words, the four triangles that make up the center of the block will all be the same four colors from block to block and in the same order arranged. What four colors to choose then? I wanted the four pieces to go from very dark to very light so I choose a deep royal purple floral, a teal and purple daffodil print, an aqua and teal watermark print and a purple and teal abstract design on white. I then decided the remainder of the fabric (25 different prints) would be random. A total of 29 different prints in this quilt in all. Wow!
The final part of the planning process is to draw my templates. Even though I will use the rotary cutter for the first time, I want to have a template available to keep my cuts true!