3 Ways to Design Art Work: The Sketch

seedpod1detail1forwebReady to make an original quilt design? There are three methods of designing art quilts that you may find helpful. And each way of designing has pros and cons to consider. Over the next few days I’d like to show you the three methods I use:

  • sketching a design,
  • creating variations on a theme, and
  • using design triggers.

Please note that the examples are made with pre-fused fabric. (You can learn more about fusing here.) But you can apply the same methods to a pieced quilt as well. It doesn’t matter how you assemble the design, it’s the process of turning your ideas into fabric that matters. Today we’ll explore sketching the design.


Sketch for Seedpods

Sketching the Design
For large art work, a sketch may be the answer. You don’t have to be an expert at drawing but with a sketch or doodle you can work out the design possibilities ahead of time before cutting into fabric.

Pros: A sketch helps you visualize your final design. It helps determine the shapes and placement of each shape in the design and can be enlarged and turned into a pattern.

Cons: One difficultly of working from a sketch is the feeling of being locked into that design. Confining your imagination is not good in art making. So at some point you may want to set aside the sketch and wing it. Give yourself the freedom to change things up.


Seedpods #1 by Laura Wasilowski

Here are some tips when designing from a sketch:

  • Make multiple sketches to develop the shapes in the design, their placement, and relationship to each other.
  • Duplicate the sketch and play with color ideas using colored pencils or markers to help with fabric choices.
  • Use the sketch to determine a size for the final design and use those measurements to figure the amount of fabric you will need to make the quilt.  
  • Work from the sketch directly or enlarge it into a pattern for the design. (See how to transfer pattern shapes to a fused fabric here.)

Stay tuned for the second method of designing art work: Variations on a Theme


Who’s Feeling Bright and Sunny Today?


Windy City #11 by Laura Wasilowski

As winter doth drageth on in the northern hemisphere, I am reminded that the days ARE getting longer and there shall be light eventually. But first, I must shovel snow.

fusingtableAnd then enjoy my messy studio where it is always sunny and bright! Why? Because there is fabric to play with and imagination to be explored. Have you fondled your fabric lately? Maybe it needs your personal attention right now. We don’t want our fabric to feel lonely.

Hope your days are sunny and bright!

The End: Gardening #4

feltlikegardening2And now for the fun part in making this Felt Like Gardening composition. Connecting the flowers with Chain Stitches that curl and loop to the ground adds motion and liveliness to the design. It’s always good to give a composition as little activity.

fabricscraps2As I  set this aside for a new project, I’m reminded that we all have so many ideas in our head there’s not enough time to finish them all. You have to pick and choose. And sometimes we must give ourselves permission to choose the fun project over the obligatory project. Think we should all go play play with our fabric now!

The Girdle and Gardening #3

feltgarden7Thank heavens for my skills of disorganization. As this embroidery evolves (without a plan), I am forced to discover new ways of using stitches and thread colors to enhance the felt. When in doubt, go with old Chain StitchesThey hold  down the little yellow leafy things and Straight Stitches make the veins.

feltgarden8Next up: have Blanket Stitches girdle the flower lobes in place. (Girdle, haven’t used that word on years!) Add a few Bullion Knots to top off the flower and a Stem Stitch to outline the bud.

This strategy of not planning too far ahead for a project started years ago. I had a specific look I wanted to achieve for a piece of artwork. That look never approached what I saw in my minds eye. It was so disappointing that I did not live up to my own standards. And so I gave up and chucked my standards. And feel much better now, thank you. Give it a try. Chuck your standards today!

Felt Like Gardening #1

feltgarden2Once the major elements on my little felt embroidery project are tacked to a background fabric, it’s time to add decorative stitches. The wiggly bits (the “grass”) are stitched first. These delicate strips are secured to the background with an embroidery stitch usually associated with flowers: the Pistil Stitch. Pistil Stitches not only travel across the strips to trap them into place but, add a little bead of thread to edge. It’s a twofer!

Incidentally, I’m teaching a class called Felt Like Gardening at Quilters’ Affair in Sister OR this coming July. This piece will be an example for the students.

New Year, New Project

feltgardenn1aIt’s about time I stopped partying and begin working on a new project! Here you see the beginnings of a small garden design using acrylic/wool felt. All the shapes were cut using an Accuquilt die cutter rather than by hand. (I don’t want to leap into real work right away.) See the green “grass” area? That’s a cut-away fabric, the remains of cutting out leaf shapes. You could call it the negative of the positive shape.

feltgarden1bAfter cutting out the shapes, my next step is to arrange them on a background fabric and take a photo of the design. Then I remove smaller shapes that are stacked or can be added later and tack the remaining shapes into place. Now it’s all ready to stitch. Any ideas?