Thursday, October 14, 2010


                                       Janie's  19thc Churndash 2009

I just spent a half hour going through my saved images of quilts I have made and other quilts I would like to make.... I'm amazed at how many of them involve half square triangles and what a huge variety of quilts the lowly half square triangle can support.

TOMORROW we will start to work on making ourselves a supply of hst's to start quilt designing and quiltmaking with, so look out your favourite ruler, a permanent marker fineline  and some ruled template plastic or some quarter inch grid paper. That's available in pad form three hole or not, at Staples/Office Depot. Don't forget your utility scissors - cutting plastic is no good for your good dressmaker's shears - this is the time for the 'el cheapo' scissors!

TODAY your exercise is to go through your source of pictures, patterns, magazines and so on and bookmark quilts that pique your interest. If like me, you do this on your computer; it is easy to set up a file for the exercises you will be doing. If you work better with real paper, books, patterns and magazines, perhaps a clearly marked project box is called for. I often use the clear page protectors and keep my favourites in a three ring binder that can be put on the bookshelf with other books and doesn't add to the clutter.

Next go through your fabric stash and simply pick appealing fabrics at random or with a plan in mind. You can choose bits and pieces and ends or for a more unified effect choose a couple of pieces of yardage. Just make sure you choose some light and some dark, as contrast is part of what makes hst's so appealing.

                                             A MARCUS BROTHERS FREEBIE

As my major goal in any teaching I do is to empower quiltmaker's colour sense and designing skills you will notice I am leaving a lot of choices up to you - if you feel you aren't yet ready for this sort of independence, then just pop in a comment describing your current needs and I will address them either here in the blog or privately if you wish.
TODAY's major goal is to help you develop your ability to choose how you wish to go about the project - scrappy or colour co-ordinated? traditional or wild fresh colours? tone on tone or solids? batiks? Your stash will tell you a lot about your preferences as soon as you look through it. I know mine is short on the warm end of the spectrum (yellows. oranges and reds) and almost entirely lacking in brights and the more modern "retro" prints from the 50's and 60's which are popular right now - I'm trying to leave my comfort zone and try out some of these!
The above quilt top and blocks will look entirely different according to whether you decide to hang them on point or butt them  together in a straight set and with or without sashing and setting triangles, so start playing with your graph paper sketch pad and maybe even use some crayon or coloured pencils - I keep on hand an old set of both that my now 18 year old grandson abandoned here years ago when something better arrived under the tree - works for me! You may already be into electric quilt software and have the 2010 Stash software for all I know!
I want you to develop your colour and design sense to the point where you don't need these aids, but you need lots of practice before you get to the point where you can dispense with the preliminaries.

Spend the next day or so looking at as many quilts as you can - perhaps pulling the ones you choose together by printing off copies or just scanning and filing them together.

I'm interested to hear your comments after you've done that.
Talk to you soon.


grendelskin said...

I have a pile of batik-ish tonal scraps leftover from another project; I'd like to pair these with white. My mind has been on Broken Dishes lately, will likely go in that direction. I've done a bit of work with HSTs but am excited to do more!

Janet said...

Hi Grendelskin: Sometimes straight white or even tone on tone white is a very sharp contrast and you might think about a tot neutral. Another potential problem with white and a lot of intersecting triangles is that the darker tones shine through as sometimes you can't help pressing the wrong way to conceal the darker colours.