As I mentioned a few days ago I’ve been painting up papers to help me plan out the patchwork blocks for the quilt commission….. with hindsight it may have helped more if I’d reproduced the fabrics that I had seen and thought yes to, however I quite liked just painting and colouring while listening to some quietly playing music in the background.
For the backgrounds I used water downed gouache paint and then worked motifs and patterns on top with a variety of colouring pencils……when I was painting up some of the patchwork block patterns I felt some of the patterns were looking a bit flat and then I realised it was probably because I’d painted them with plain areas of colour, and generally all my patchwork tends to be sewn using lots of prints. I also found myself repeating the same block pattern and feeling a little bit like I was stuck in a rut and somewhat daunted by the scope of the patterns and colours available, having a little break (and painting up papers) my mind seemed to be able to wander about quite happily and new ideas began to form.
I was really inspired to paint up some papers to help with my patchwork planning after seeing some papers that Phoebe Wahl had painted and cut out to make her beautiful collages…Phoebe is one of my favourite illustrators and I love her work so much…she captures those lovely quiet moments of everyday life that we all know and which seem to pass by so quickly but which remain in memories….she also does the best illustrations of textiles and quilts so thought this technique would be perfect for helping me cope with the jumble of ideas that was going on in my head.
I’ve ended up painting nearly two dozen different little prints in a variety of colours and different sizes, the floral prints are my favourite but I then like floral prints in fabric. Favourite fabrics are the feedsack reproduction style ones which have been really popular over the last some years. Though I like fifties style dresses I much prefer the fabrics from the thirties and favour a slightly more subdued palette (though I appreciate that when these fabrics were new they were a lot brighter than what we see today.) I’m all for sun faded and time softened fabrics and find my patchwork choices reflect this.
This is a somewhat different way of working to when I was making the blocks for “dear ethel”….partly because that quilt is for me so I only had myself to please, where as a commission you are trying to please someone else, even harder this time was that the quilts are a surprise from “dad” and I have to try and remember which colours “mum” liked when I made them a quilt before.
Spending tme painting up papers, and colouring in blocks has meant the design process has lasted longer than I thought but it has helped me clear out “head clutter” like you wouldn’t believe, and has also made me think about and consider designs that I hadn’t even thought of when I was just colouring in a flat area of colour.
Now I’ve got a good old selection of “prints” I’ve started cutting them up to arrange into little paper patchwork blocks…these little squares are only an inch wide. The blocks for “dear ethel” are six inches wide and one idea I thought about while cutting out the papers was to make the blocks for these quilts the same size as that, however that is going to take me quite a while, so I’m thinking that one solution would be to use six inch squares of patterned fabric every other block…..but then again I could just up-scale all the blocks, and make them ten inches wide instead.
This is a mix of two different blocks, a very simple nine patch block and then “twin star” which I thought most apt as these designs are for quilts for twins. One thing their dad did ask for was that the quilts are to to be different from each other. I’d played about with using the same block but to use it differently, using other blocks around it or setting it out out on the diagonal…..
I’m thinking it would work even better if the stars were made from just yellow and orange fabric, then they’d stand out really well. Both quilts will have lots of hand quilting so seam lines and colour edges will be softened and blended.
Although the prints I’ve painted are quite different to the fabric I saw, the fabric I’ve actually chosen for the patchwork is quite similar to the colours above, I’m still very undecided about borders and bindings, for this paper patchwork though I’ve just glued down some painted grey paper to give a defined edge to the piece…..(I’ve got a pretty pink rose print on grey fabric which I thought might work well as a binding fabric. It’s a bit too much by itself but I think just a little of it edging the quilt would be fine)
And of course the inevitable happened, I popped down stairs to put the kettle on, came back up with a pot of tea and found the “supervisor” inspecting what Id done….the floor was covered in small pieces of carefully laid out papers, and even tinier pieces were found stuck to his tummy where he’d stretched out on the sketchbook and some sticky scraps.
When I went to move him there was a trumpety sound form the musical bottom and a bit of a whiff so decided to take a tea break downstairs.