Sunday, July 12, 2009

I was upstairs sewing this afternoon

When I was upstairs finishing all my pink pinwheel blocks this afternoon (yeah!) I got to thinking about my process. I tend to work in a particular way with my scrap quilts -- it's not necessarily the quickest way but it works for me and it goes something like this....

1. pull a lot of fabric in the colors I plan to use and then sort through and refine my selection. I tend to lay them on top of each other with about an inch or two of each fabric showing and remove any that I don't think will work -- with my scrap quilts -- more fabrics are better.

2. start cutting enough of the different fabrics to begin to make several blocks.

3. piece a few blocks and put them on the design wall to evaluate how my fabrics are working.

4. make any necessary adjustments -- sometimes this means removing or adding fabrics to my mix.

5. continue to cut a while then piece a while -- I NEVER cut one of my own scrap quilts out all at once.

6. when I get down to the last *set* of blocks I make sure I've got a good mix of fabrics cut for them -- I hate getting down to just one or two more blocks and having to cut more.

7. once the blocks are made and up on the design wall, I decide if I need any changes to my planned setting -- this could be more blocks or occasionally sashing or a twisted setting or a change in borders.

8. once the blocks are pieced together I usually reassess the plan for borders again -- does the quilt need them? is it the right size already? pieced or plain? I love quilts without borders so this always gets a lot of thought because I only add them if I feel the quilt needs them (or if I got tired of making blocks and it needs to be bigger).

On my current quilt I'm up to step #6 with just 5 more brown star blocks to piece -- but first, I'll have to cut and sew more half square triangles.

For me, my most successful quilts are those where I'm willing to be open to making changes as the quilt takes shape.

So, what's your process? Cut all and THEN sew? Cut and sew together? Start with a plan and stick with it? Start with a plan and modify it as you go along?


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22 comments:

Cher said...

it really depends on my mood and whether I am actually using a pattern or just making it up as I go along. I think your process is a great one to use..and gives a lot of leeway for being happy with it at the end. nice post Mary

LizA. said...

I don't have the patience to cut everything first. Besides, I usually end up changing my mind several times so I find it works better to cut a few pieces first to make sure I like what I had been planning to do. The best quilts seem to be those that had no set "plan" to begin with, just a general idea of where I thought I wanted to go.

Lindah said...

Especially if I am unsure of how I will like the pattern/colors or if there are a lot of itty-bitty pieces, I like to cut and piece a bit at a time. If I am under the gun with a deadline, I may just cut it all at once and stand on the pedal. I don't like to work that way. It makes me feel like a factory line worker rather than an artist. I like to have time to play with the pieces and let the spontaneous inspiration flow.
I've been away from quilting for about a month now, and I'm anxious to get back. The doll clothes are done and the garment sewing almost finished. I've cleared away my work table and rid myself of all those stacks of "possibilities" so I can start quilting all fresh anew. Now if the garden does not claim too much time and energy, I should be able to slip into quilt mode. There is a time for all things.
Happy sewing!

sewali said...

I don't tend to make scrap quilts, but if I just cut out a few blocks to see what they will look like, that's as far as the quilt gets, because I've seen LOL. I have to cut the whole thing, then go on a piecing frenzy. I usually have a fixed idea of what I want a quilt to look like, and don't very often change the plan half way, just occasionally swap a border fabric. I don't have a dedicated sewing room or a design wall, though, maybe that's where I'm going wrong :o). I too have slow quilting periods, but I don't worry about it, as you say we always come back to it.

I love the bright quilt in the previous post.

Nanci said...

Well Mary, since I've been following you from my start of quilting, I pretty well do what you do...pick the fabric and go from there.
I've never quite gotten the math down to what size though...if I have a lot of fabric, the quilt will be big, if not...then what ever I end up with.
Now all the strippy quilts that I did last year...well they are the same size as yours...
a Great blog today.

Cheryl Willis said...

mark me down fot doing different on different pieces. I perfer to have an idea, cut it out and then sew, leaving it open to interpertation and change as I go. Sometimes I will do a block or to and that is enouch so i set it aside for later or to be gifted as a kit. I almost always have it all cut before i lose interest. good thing about that is, if/when I do get back to one it is partly done- seems to go faster. cw

Vicki W said...

I think that I usually cut all and then sew but I am always willing to cut half more again to make it all "right".

Shogun said...

I never cut it all out at once. That would bore me and rob me of the creative process. I tend to change things along the way and I just need a break from cutting, so I cut a little and sew a little.

Owens Family Adventures said...

I usually end up thinking about the colors for a couple of days....getting a lot of my bins out and playing with the fabric....have an iced tea....maybe a cookie....look at some of my quilting magazines for color inspiration and then after I've picked out all the fabric, I cut! I cut it all!! Label everything and put it in baggies so I can keep track. I pick one day for cutting and then another for sewing.
It's fun to read what everyone else does and how we are all so different. :)
hugs!!
dawn

JoAnne said...

My process is somewhat like yours, Mary,cut a little, sew a little then do it again if I like where it's going. I don't like having lots of leftovers from cutting too much of one size strip or block so this method works for me. Love you blog!

Joyce said...

MY process is like yours. The only one I've ever cut out ahead of time is the One Piece Wonder kaleidoscope quilt. I find it too hard on the arms to do all the cutting ahead of time and like you I never know exactly what I'm going to use.

EileenKNY said...

I've always cut all out first and then sew. Maybe that's why I get bored halfway through and chuck the whole thing.
I'm going to give your way a try and see if it works for me.

YankeeQuilter said...

The only quilting "rule" that I absolutely live by is making a test block. I always start by cutting just enough for the one block (or maybe two) and then piece it. It isn't always the pattern (or my math) is off - sometimes I just decide I want the block to be a different size! After that my process is pretty much the same as yours...cut a little, sew a little, play in fabric a little, have some coffee....

QuiltSue said...

Oh, you really do make is sit and think don't you Mary?

I usually intend to do all the cutting, then the piecing, but I tend to get bored half way through, so then I'll make some blocks, then do some more cutting.

Sometimes though I do cut it all first, but there doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason to which way I go!

Infinity Quilter said...

I start cutting until I get bored/impatient and then I start piecing blocks. Then I'll go back and cut/piece until it's done. I do it this way because I like to see progress!!!

Stitch-n-quilt said...

I do much the same as you. Acutally, you make me feel better as I thought not cutting all at once was because I wasn't organized. But scrap quilts are like that and depending on how you place your colors, they can turn out beautiful, and not hodge-podge.

Lori in South Dakota said...

I lay out my fabrics like you. But I usually cut enough pieces all at once and then madly chain piece a bunch of blocks. I put them up on the wall, change them around, throw some out maybe and make a few more. Then I like to leave them up for a few days and "study" them, I usually take a picture and look at that, often that helps me change the blocks around. A few times I haven't LIKED a block or two, but left it, and when I'm done, it looks just fine. I often throw in a few "zinger" pieces to keep my quilts from being too "bleah".

K McLaughlin said...

I usually buy way too much fabric, press it all, then cut about 1/3 of the pieces. Then I start to play on the design wall, cut some more and somehow find it absolutely necessary to go back to the LQS! I wait until I'm completely finished to buy border/backing/binding fabric.

animal lover, quilt lover said...

I make a scrap something the way you do. I like that process. The fun of making anything is the fabric. A vest, a placemat, pot holder, a quilt, a rug, anything!!!

Quilter Kathy said...

I rarely cut all my fabric at the beginning either. I can't wait to get sewing! I like to sew a little, press a little, cut a little and repeat!

Clare said...

Cut and plan as I go along. I'm constantly changing my mind as I work and the finished version is usually completely different from what was originally planned. But hey isn't that what being liberated is about?

Andrew said...

Nice to see this..


Thanks for sharing...
___________________
Andrew
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