Friday, August 28, 2009

Listen to the Fabric

Sometimes we sit and stare, ponder, and dither, and finally the best option for difficult fabrics is to simply listen to them. Instead of countering the design they have, it’s not a bad idea to work with these designs by using them as the basis of a quilting motif.

The photo, above, shows a soft double zig-zag line of quilting on the bright yellow fabric in a challenge quilt I did last spring. Each border had the print positioned a bit differently as I wasn’t planning on using it as my quilting guide.

So each border was quilted with this design but was just a bit different. It all merged wonderfully and looked just fine.

It is fairly easy to use the fabric print as your guide, parts of it as positioning points in creating a freehand quilting design. I quilted freehand, stayed within the area I used in the print, and worked along steadily, looked ahead of the needle to the lines of the fabric itself, and yes, I had to take breaks to rest my eyes every now and then as it gets a bit dizzying doing this kind of quilting. But it went quickly and was fun to do.

This example, above, is another of the fabrics in this quilt and even though I tried some marked Diane-shiko on it as a small sample, I went with this freehand design that was 1) simple, 2) fast, and 3) effective.
It showcased the design of this gaphic fabric, it created a new dimension for the fabric, and added a new layer of design. It did not interfere, get lost, or take over. It was quite fun and easy to do. I finished all 4 borders in an hour or so.

And I didn’t have to mark it or try to see marks as I quilted or remove marks later.
The marked Diane-shiko I thought would look so wonderful was difficult to mark, impossible to see, and the final quilted sample looked pretty boring. I mean, really boring. You couldn’t see the quilting, and the fabric design was obscured. It was an exercise in the wrong design for the wrong fabric with the wrong result.
Don’t worry about switching your ideas while working on a quilt. Always try a sample of the quilting you plan on the fabric itself. Not only do you warm up and get into that design before you do it on the actual quilt, but you can see right away if it works into all the necessary requirements for being “the right design” for this area, this fabric, this quilt.
I have become far more flexible after years of quilting and have learned to listen to the quilt, to the fabric. It’s good to try something different than the same old, same old.

Keep quilting; your work indeed will get better every day!


Anne said...

Wow, Diane, this is great. I often try too hard for an overall quilting concept but end up getting discouraged. Your idea can help me get past that and be happy and free with a patchwork of quilting designs. Thanks.

Diane Gaudynski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane Gaudynski said...

This kind of quilting for those difficult fabrics can work if done as well, as meticulously as the marked or more formal designs. Attention to detail, keeping the spacing and proportion similar, lovely stitches, all will help it blend in harmoniously. We all need to relax a bit with our quilting.

(Re-posted to correct typo.)

Cheryl Arkison said...

Love this post! I am sometimes inspired by the fabric for my quilting designs. And as someone who hates marking I can really appreciate the follow the fabric mantra.

Susan S said...

Diane---The designs on the printed fabrics are fascinating--------you could do a whole class or a class segment on this with people bringing in different challenging fabrics :)

Anonymous said...

LISTEN to the fabric - I love it! Thanks for sharing.

Diane Gaudynski said...

It took me a long time to listen, and not be stubborn and fight the fabric. We choose the fabric, so it's best to work with it, use motifs in it as quilting designs in other areas of the quilt, quilt it so it shows it off and makes it easiest to do as well. Fabric is great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane -- just want to let you and your readers know that there is a free feather quilting design on "The Quilter"'s website. It is my original design:

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks ivoryspring - beautiful design.