There are many steps in the creation of each piece, large or small. It begins with dyeing my own fabrics. Pre-washed sheets are torn into manageable segments, dyes are carefully mixed, and a very wet, messy process begins. I do a lot of experimenting at this stage, combining various colors and techniques. I won't see the results until everything is rinsed, washed and dried - the rewarding part of a long day.
Next I'll head to the studio, where the majority of the work takes place. The first step in the design process is selecting the fabrics, which can be quick if I have an inspiration, or can take days of auditioning colors for a larger piece. I've learned to use templates (cutouts from poster board) to play around with before I move on to choosing colors. I begin cutting out and arranging leaves, animals and filigree for an applique quilt, or cutting strips, triangles, etc. for a pieced quilt.
For a pieced quilt
cut selected fabrics into strips, circles, etc
sew the pieces into blocks ( this piece is made up of 56 blocks)
sew the blocks together to form the quilt top (after much re-arrangeing)
layer the top with batting and backing fabric , this must be carefully done or you end up with puckers and wrinkles
finally the actual quilting! all three layers are sewn together. This stitching can be utilitarian or decorative
For an appliqued quilt
cut out the various branches, leaves, animals, etc that will be the focus of the piece
arrange the pieces on background ( the options are endless, so I usually have to make myself stop and get on with it)
sew the elements in place
layering and quilting just like above. (these usually have a heavy amount of free-motion quilting)
Once I get to the sewing machine, most of the design work is done, and basic skills take over to stitch everything together. Then it's back to being an artist to complete the piece with free-motion quilting, filling in the background with textures, circles and swirls. I use the sewing machine like other artists use a pencil, creating my designs in thread by focusing on both the positive and negative space. I like a balance between open areas and heavy coverage, and work intuitively to fill in my backgrounds. I know from the start whether it will be a good quilting day or not - there's a flow that needs to be happening. If that's not there, I put the work aside for another day, and maybe clean the studio?