Thursday, February 4, 2016

How did you come up with that design?

I just finished the top for my blue abstract quilt.  I have already decided how I am going to quilt it. Well at least I think I have. I need to get some backing fabric for it. Not sure if I should just go with a blue Cherrywood fabric or buy something unexpected like a print. What do you think?

I am often asked how I come up with the quilt designs that I come up with. I feel a lot of people think that you just pull these things out of your brain in a moment of artistic inspiration. The reality in most creative endeavors is that there is a lot of hard work involved.

Last year I took a class on making abstract quilts with Elizabeth Barton at Academy of Quilting. She gave us plenty of ideas of where to start in the creation of an abstract quilt from cutting out paper shapes and arranging them in a good composition to pixelating a photograph. You have to start somewhere. You can't just stare at a blank piece of paper or a blank design wall...well at least I can't. It is a lot like what I saw in the Eagles documentary. Their songs often started with a song title, an inspiring line, a guitar riff. With a lot of hard work this turned into one of their great songs.

So here is the saga of the blue abstract quilt. 

It started with an image of a forest scene. This is a photo I started with. It was already highly processed in Photoshop with several filters and  I had it printed on fabric at Spoonflower.

I used Photoshop to create a pixelated image. One of the things I really liked about the original above and this pixelated image was the gradation of values. I want to make a quilt with these colors some day.

Then I had this image from the arrangement of paper shapes that were cut out of black paper.

 For some reason I changed the colors to teal and purple in Photoshop.

Then I put the cut out shapes over the pixlated image. This is done with layers in Photoshop.

Then I chopped up this result into sections and added black strips in between the sections. Some of the sections I flipped. Then I added uneven borders. This was all done in Photoshop.

Then I changed the color scheme again and turned it blue. When I finally made it I did tweak the design a little.

So you can see this was planned from the beginning. I am not one for improvising a quilt. All my quilts are planned out with some kind of sketch before I even start making them.

Linking to Nina-Marie a day early.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Oh, I would save that cherrywood for the front of a quilt. I often find some kind of coordinating fabric from my stash for the back of art quilts. I've got a lot of commercial prints from years of collecting that I know will never make it into a quilt top but are still lovely. Often there is just enough to back a quilt that will go on the wall. I think it is a nice touch and a bit of a surprise for anyone who does get a glimpse of the back. Also, I often choose a print to help hide any glitches in the underside of machine quilting!

  2. Those are my thoughts as well. Unfortunately I don't have anything in my stash big enough so I will have to visit the local quilt store. I have not been there yet so it should be fun.

  3. Maybe something geometric with the same colors as the front? Can't wait to see how you quilt it. What will you use for thread color on the black? Thank you showing the process - interesting. I am scared of the abstract but the way you do it, at least it comes from something and then morfs into another which is very cool. I don't have photo shop but there are separate apps I have that may do what you are showing. Maybe someday :-)

  4. I love so many versions of your design. Will look forward to seeing how you quilt it. I often go with a back that blends with my bobbin thread so the quilting is creates a simple textured back.

  5. Your quilt just jumps out of the screen- it's so striking!!

  6. I love seeing your process, Chris. Thanks for sharing.


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