Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fabric for Rhapsody

Did you have fun creating a design?  I always do.  I love what Paul Nadelstern says about creativity:
"Please, let's not allow external pressure to dictate that we conform to an imaginary standard based on the mythological perfection of the quiltmaking legacy.

My next step is to go back to the little 8x8 inch initial drawing and assess the fabrics that I want to be my background.  The drawing is just that:  a background that will support appliqué.  I cut the fabrics to fit the various elements in the small design and glue them to the appropriate spot on the dull side of the freezer paper with glue stick or double-sided masking tape.  A mirror can give an idea of what two or more triangles will look like together, but I prefer to take a digital photo, bring it into the computer, and rotate to see how the four corners will look together.

I no longer have a photo of my chosen fabrics for the quilt I am describing so I just filled the spaces with color on the computer to give you the idea.  Below is the total design with color.  It would be more lively with real fabric.

Now that I know what fabrics I want where, I go back to my full size freezer paper corner (20x20" for this quilt, which will give me a finished quilt about 40x40"), and make a copy of that full size corner.  Did I mention that if the drawing is not done on a perfect square, the pieces won't fit together?  It pays to be fussy at the very start of the process.  I have no way to do a machine copy so I just hunker down and carefully trace it by rubbing or using a light box.  This will serve as a reference copy in case I need it down the road, and it pays to do it carefully.  Ask someone who knows about this!

TIP:  Don't have a light box?  If you have a plexiglas extender table for your machine, take it to a table or the ironing board, put a goose-neck desk lamp underneath and you have your lightbox.  No fuss, no muss, no expense.  You can also buy a square of plexiglass and set it on book stacks leaving space in the middle for a lamp underneath.

When I am satisfied with what I have done so far, I take a ruler and draw lines on the freezer paper that are parallel to a straight edge through all the elements to indicate the fabric grain.  This kind of quilt can easily go wonky with its seams wandering all over the grain and bias.  Cutting the pieces with grain in mind will minimize or eliminate potential problems.

Pardon my inaccurate drawing.  I did it on the computer for this post, long after finishing the quilt.  
This is why I draw my designs on paper with pencil and eraser! 

TIP:  I use a colored pencil for the grain lines to avoid mixing them up with seam lines.

TIP:  In spite of my slipshod example, I must stress that accurate lines and a perfect square make a beautiful quilt.  Skewed designs will not work and you will end up wearing a turban after pulling out all your hair.  The sloppy line design above will NOT work because the square is not perfect nor is the diagonal.  You can see where the fit is going to be pulling, rippled and rumpled.  My original was done carefully by hand and it paid off.


  1. This is really neat Mardi -- thanks for sharing!!

  2. Love how to make a light box! Great idea! Thanks for sharing on the paper piecing. I have yet to try making my own.