Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Best Laid Plans

The sewing table is ready, but I still haven't gotten back to sewing.  We have cheatgrass in the yard, which is pretty, but terribly invasive.  It dies off and turns brown by early July and does not provide adequate nutrition for the deer and elk, so it goes ugly fast.  DH weed-whacked most of the wild grass (no formal lawn here), but I am pulling the cheatgrass by hand from about 1/4 of the yard.  Then, we wait and see what happens next year.  Why am I telling you this?  My poor body is getting badly abused from grass pulling and dandelion digging.  Machine quilting forces the body to be in one fairly intense position without much moving around even if you have a good chair, table the right height, etc.  Stiff necks are very common, but right now it is my whole body that is stiff in spite of my daily exercise routine, stretching and walking the dog.

So what do I do when I am not sewing?  Cleaning house goes only so far.  I don't bake because we have cut out sugar and carbs as much as possible.  So I design.  I lay in bed in the morning free motion thinking as I awaken, and slowly the ideas are coming together for another quilt.  I killed time some months ago between projects making four paper pieced stars, each different.  Then I moved on and let them sit.  They have given me a start for new ideas.  As for the stars I don't use, I am thinking I might cut them into 2" strips and use them for part or all of a border.  I don't know if that will work or not, but it will be fun to try.  I should be able to make this quilt from my stash.  Won't that make DH happy?

I started with a design from Carol Doak's "50 Fabulous Paper-pieced Star" page 122, which I drew in Illustrator.  You can do this on paper, but I like working it out on the computer.  I changed the slant of one line just because.  I drew a hexagon for the center.
Two spokes of a star.  One hexagon.

Then I created a star by putting the two star pieces together and rotating the whole by 90 degrees three times to get all eight points.

Next I rotate the whole star three times until I have four stars.  Then I begin to take design pieces to add to the outside.  From here I just play.  For the center, a hexagon (6 sides) in an octagonal (8 sides) star?  Yes!  It doesn't "fit," but can be worked in a way that adds a slight bit of visual tension, which also adds interest.

TIP:  Don't be afraid to break the rules.  Many rules are mere guides.

I got this to a point where I sort of liked it, but wasn't truly happy.  I played with colors.  I put the hexagon in the center, which was a glowing success after I colored various, surrounding pieces so it looks like it flows out into the greater design (not shown here).  Once I was happy with a version of the whole I began to change colors here and there until I finally ended up with something that spoke to me. As I changed colors in different places I found designs within designs and nested boxes.

Another way to play with designs is to create a line drawing and fill it with color.  That's what all those colored pencils are for - right?

So far I have been playing, looking for design and color and sometimes my computer precision goes wonky.  Before I begin a quilt I will go back to the beginning and make sure that every line and connection is precise so I don't end up trying to sew things that got distorted and no longer fit together.  You are welcome to copy and enlarge the above and color it in if you want to.  I would love to see what you come up with.

TIP:  Simplicity.  Remember the whole design is nothing but one pieced triangle in a right and a left version.  Like the cells of your body make you a complex whole, so is a quilt design.

Sew some happy seams this week or have fun drawing out your creative ideas.
P.S.  My final design, because of color changes, shows no evidence of having begun as stars!!


  1. I hope your aches and pains go away soon so you can get back to real sewing again! I love the design you made in Illustrator. I enjoy digital quilt design, too, but I use EQ7 which automatically calculates yardages, rotary cutting charts, and can print out templates or foundation paper piecing patterns. Have you tried EQ?

    1. I never got into EQ because I work on a Mac. I know they now have a Mac version, but I am so comfortable with Illustrator that I will continue to use it. I can calculate yardage quite accurately with it and make patterns, but it does take more time than EQ I am sure. Anyhow, I am content!!

  2. When I first saw the design it was the colors that grabbed me. I took a class with Sandy Donabed just shy of 30 years ago. She recommended keeping a samples of color combinations which caught your eye in a shoebox, so when debating a color scheme, you could head to the shoebox. I found I had quite a few turquoise and orange. I dubbed my favorite combination the HoJo palette.

    1. I have discovered that I like high contrast, saturated color and that is generally what happens. I have also come to realize that I love designs, the more unusual and intricate, the more fascinating. They also take a LONG time to stitch and quilt. No speedy quilter here.

  3. I love using Illustrator myself, it's so amazing to see where you start to where you end up! Great design by the way :)

  4. Pretty! Can't wait to see this one in fabric. Thanks for sharing the initial design process on Midweek Makers