Tuesday, May 28, 2013

concentrating the quilt

Now many of you know that I make custom quilts. Indeed I welcome the challenge of making just the right quilt for the space. The right colors. The right size. The right effect. Often the customer sees a quilt and falls in love with it. But it is too big--or sometimes too small. And the challenge is to retain what the customer loves about the quilt but for their space.

This is the case with the quilt--endless fields--I am currently working on. You may remember this piece--it is BIG.  99x99" BIG to be precise. The fields stretch on forever. And that is the story. What is beyond the horizon? What is the promise of this quilt?

endless fields--99x99"--quilt--Ann Brauer
But the customer needs a quilt that is 60x60". Not that much smaller you may say--but in actuality if you multiply it out it is a major difference. Now you may think I can just make a section of this quilt and create the right feel. Maybe just take the bottom left. But of course that would lose the motion of the quilt and indeed its very soul if you know what I mean. And no I can't just make the individual pieces smaller. I don't want to make a replica after all but a quilt that is right in its own self.

So instead I spend time sketching out the quilt. How can I get the complexity of the larger piece without  sacrificing the overall effect? I decide that I should use slightly smaller pieces. When my choice is either 8 blocks that are 7 1/2" across or 7 blocks that are 8 1/2" across I choose the 8 blocks--even though it is more work. After all, that will let me use more fabrics which means the colors will be more intense and complex.

I also try to add as many rows going up as I reasonably can. This will allow more changes in color. I know the customer wants lots of reds and burgundies in the bottom of the quilt so I try to make sure there is as much space for these colors in my plan. And I think and think some more. Trying to get the feel of the quilt--to step back into it almost.

Finally I start to lay out some of the fabrics that I know go into this quilt. Just a sketch of color. A guide that will change as the quilt progresses. The greens fall into place

The reds are harder. After all they need to go from burgundy and plum up into the apricots and melons. And after lingering in the more intense colors, they will need to shift quickly.  I sketch it out. Snap pictures. Think. Walk away from it for a day or two. Change out the fabrics. Again.

Then decide I absolutely must start, take a long deep breath and hope the quilt will pull me along.  After all I remember from the first time I made this quilt that it was only lovely colors until the last rows were sewn. How scary to put so much time into the work without knowing that it will work. Still start I must.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you find it a challenge to change the size of a quilt you have made before? Do you decide sometimes that you just must do something?

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