Category Archives: Improvisation

Color Play Study {Quilt Journey Part I}

Instead of just posting about my finishes, I thought I would go into more detail on a few quilts. This first post I have touched on before but wanted to talk more about the steps, techniques and process of building these quilts from design to binding.

I am starting with a color play study I did, that was inspired by Stanley Whitney’s work.  As Josef Albers explores color with his work Interaction of color, I love how Stanley Whitney does the same (at least for me) in the placement of the colors in the grid.  Here are a couple of examples of Stanley Whitney’s work:

If you like these pieces, check out this book, Stanley Whitney: In the Color.

There are three pieces in which I explored color and placement. For all, I started with:

  • A large design wall that provided space to organize layout and editing.
  • A pile of larger scraps that were smaller than a fat quarter, and some sorted smaller scraps, sorted by color.
  • I knew that these would be improvisation based quilts; exploring maximalism with color but minimalism in design.

The first quilt, Whitney, I started with a similar grid layout like Stanley Whitney’s pieces. I keep with bright colors but was limited based on the scraps I had in my stash. I did not want to purchase additional fabric.

As I ordered the larger scraps I found common color groupings – Reds/pinks, Greens, yellows and blues. I laid these scraps vertically in the color groups thinking I would add horizontal strips between the rows. Where I did not have enough large scraps I used smaller scraps to create the square (see red and green rows). This is what the initial layout looked like.

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I edited the arrangement and made some decisions:

  • I wanted to have yellow’s, vertically all the way down. Yellow had the smallest variation in color so I feel it draws the eye down between rows.
  • As I sewed up each row, I added “filler” pieces to try and make sure each row was approximately the same size.
  • The stripes between the rows, I wanted to keep within the color choices I made in the columns, so I chose blue, reds and yellow (the primary colors). The colors were ~2″ strips I had in stash.
  • I added stripes to add interest and a place for visual rest.
  • Many of the larger scraps had corners missing so additional pieces were added, or strips were trimmed off, and one I added a triangle which I thought would be great using a green from the adjacent color area.
  • The lighter blue piece added in the blue row separator was not planned. The strip was too short and it was a slice and insert. It was a great coincidence that it lined up the way it did.

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Stanley is the second study I did. I wanted to explore, this time the lack of bright colors with a mostly neutral color palette. Some design decisions for this quilt:

  • I played with different fabric types in this quilt with quilting cotton, linen, denim and feed sacks.
  • I wanted the quilt to move from dark (left) to light (right) – black, grey, whites/creams.
  • Yellow was used as a row separator in this quilt.
  • To draw the eye down the quilt, this time I used the thin blue denim vertical stripe. Its separated with the yellow but I decided not to separate it between second and third rows.
  • The red was prompted from the red in the feed sack. I was hoping that it would make the feed sacks pop a little.
  • The red print was added last as the row separator between black and grey. I decided I liked having the red print also down the side of the third row. I like the jump it forces you to make when looking at it.

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The first two quilts were named after Stanley Whitney who inspired these two pieces; Whitney due to the bright colors (more girl-ie) and Stanley for the more neutral quilt.

If you follow my blog you would have seen the 3rd one in this study – Scrap Dive Study no. 3. This one was not following the typical grid rows and columns layout the previous two explored. I still explored the separation of areas but in a more quadrant layout. The large scraps here I looked at oranges, reds, yellows, greens and a smaller area of blues. The separator is a linen weaved blend.

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After this initial layout, I changed:

  • The grouping of the colors. I moved all the greens into one area. I expanded the blues into its own areas and added some denim off-cuts. The two other segments were the warm colors which are positioned more in a gradation – corals to oranges in one segment, reds/pinks/oranges and yellows in the other.

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  • The center, I struggled with and initially tried a variety of prints but finally decided on a black and white center
  • Also, rotated the quilt so that the green was on top.

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As I take you through the journey of these quilts, I plan to share:

  • Technique: How I baste quilts (where I’ll share reference material)
  • Deciding on Quilting designs
  • Technique: Burying threads
  • Technique: Binding tips

If you have other questions or topics you want more information,  let me know and I’ll try to address them, either in these planned posts or in new posts.

Scrap Dive – Study no. 3 {a finish}

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Idea

A couple of years ago I discovered the Lisson Gallery in New York as I went to see a Carmen Herrera exhibit there. The next show, was Stanley Whitney. I had never heard of him. He is African American artist, and I was fascinated how he played with blocks of color in a very vertical/horizontal grid like fashion. They are such amazing compositions, maximalist with color but minimalist in shapes.

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Design | Create

His pieces are just amazing!! My mind, after seeing this work, could not let go of how to do the same color play in textiles. Around the same time, friends and I were talking about how to use larger scraps of fabric up.

What is a scrap you might ask?
I store most of my fabric, that is a fat quarter or larger, wrapped around comic book boards. Smaller scraps are stored in the white bins you see below. So to me, I consider a large scrap a fat eighth, a scrap that I can still fold nicely but won’t fit around a board.

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Pulling out these larger scraps, I realized they would be perfect to explore color play in a similar way that Stanley Whitney’s pieces speak to me.

I have done three studies exploring color with my scraps. Whitney was the first and I explored this using a similar composition to Stanley Whitney pieces. Stanley, the second exploring more the lack of color with neutral colored scraps and using other fabrics like denim, linens and feed sacks. The third is Scrap Dive – Study no.3.

I always start making each piece by putting the scraps I have on the design wall.  I edit placement and what stays or goes directly on the design wall. The initial pull and layout of Study no. 3 still had the bands of vertical color. It evolved as I wanted to play more with my own layout and explored a quadrant-like composition using a linen scrap to put up the boundaries.

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While this layout you could see the movement from warms to colds, I wanted to really show the movement more around the quilt, almost like a color wheel. I moved things around so each quadrant took on different colors – Reds/Oranges, Reds and Yellows, Greens, and Blues (ROYGBIV). The other thing I found difficult was what to put in the center. I tried adding a variety of prints until I decided on my strip piecing from a class sample I was using.
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The last design decision was the binding. I tried 20-30 different solids and prints to see what would work. Nothing. Then I was looking at recently purchased backing fabric and realized that this crazy colorful Melody Miller print from Ruby Star Society would be perfect.

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Quilt

I put the quilt top away for a while as I had no clue how I was going to quilt it.  Finally deciding on straight lines, I decided to start with a grid of 1/2″ line for the center.
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Each quadrant was then quilted with alternating vertical and horizontal straight lines. The other detail that might be hard to see is within the boundary lines, around the gridded center the lines in the boundaries are just vertical or horizontal. The boundary lines are then gridded where the two color sections are against each other.

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Details

Name : Scrap Dive – Study No. 3
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Variety of solid scraps
Backing: Frolic Wide-back, Tula Pink (green)
Binding: Social Bird on a wire, Melody Miller, Ruby Star Society (navy)
Dimensions:
58 x 82 in.
Quilted: 1/2″ Straight line and gridded quilting using Aurifil white #2021(center), cream #2310 (quadrants)

Correlation {a finish}

I am not very good at following through on activities that require something every day, whether its following a diet and tracking, or doing a 30 day or 100 day challenge. However, I was given an opportunity to participate in a 100 day showcase, and decided to take it. I had this idea that had been percolating for a while.

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The idea and initial limits were:

  • Use a variety colored angled blocks together in one quilt
  • Use of two colors and white per block
  • Angles for each color were cut without planning (improvisation).
  • Use my Denyse Schmidt Free Spirit solids box that I had been saving in a draw for years.

The process of creating blocks was very interesting and a few additional design decisions were made along the way:

  • By day 20, I already felt overwhelmed by the angles and color and thought it needed more balance. So, single white blocks were incorporated into the design to provide much needed negative space. I think this is a great example of how to use negative space and how it can interact and be part of the overall design.
  • I added two additional block modifications. I included 3 blocks with one color and white, more as accent pieces. I also included 3 blocks with just two colors and no white.
  • I alternated the direction of the blocks to create some great negative space designs.
  • I also started positioning them on a diagonal gradient like a scatter plot / correlation (hence the name and relates to my day job).

I loved how it turned out. I love the color, the balance and the fact there’s always something to find in the blocks. Check out #100daysofcoloredangles for progress shots.

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For the quilting, I knew I was going to use straight line quilting. I also though about the quilt as a single block, so the quilting was done at angles like one of the original single block designs. I taped out the angles I was going to use, and leveraged the 1″ think tape as border lines for the 1/2″ quilting lines. In each area the lines follow various angles. IMG_5156

The binding was matched to one of the accent pieces, which I am super pleased with how that turned out.

I have multiple ideas now for additional quilts of this nature and will probably make one or two more. It was fun and very happy to add the easier negative space blocks to the quilt. It made the 100 days much easier to complete.

Details

Name : Correlation
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona White; Denyse Schmidt, Modern Solids, Free Spirit
Binding: Kona Aruba
Dimensions:  55 x 60″
Quilted: Straight Line 1/2′ quilting with Aurifil 2021.