Bird Scene

>> Monday, August 23, 2010

...or how the quilt I made for DQS 9 developed. I am, admittedly, a procrastinator. Sometimes. But I love deadlines and I love meeting them and even meeting them early. I knew I needed to complete my DQS 9 quilt by early September and had every intention of completing it by late August. I just didn't start cutting fabric and sewing it until late August either.

I knew I wouldn't get started on it early -- not only would that go against my delaying tendencies (doesn't that sound nicer than procrastinating) but I had work to do. Namely, exams that required me to read hundreds of books. Despite not picking up a rotary cutter and ruler, much less paper and pencil, I spent a lot of time thinking about the mini-quilt and creating design options in my head. Twenty-four hours before I put pen to paper, a task that occurred roughly 15 hours before the first part of my exam, I had a different background design planned. And then I changed my mind.

At the last minute, I decided to try my hand at paper piecing a design I drafted myself. It wasn't hard or complicated but I'd never done it before. To back up a step, I had decided to render a scene with a mixture of pieced and appliqued fabric. Having scrolled through my partner's (henceforth known as P) favorites on flickr, I knew P liked birds or at least bird quilts -- a favorite of mine as well. Then I contemplated backgrounds for birds and came up with a number of possibilities, none of which look like the above.

But new ideas pan out, paper piecing worked, and there lay a rectangle of grey and yellow rays, representing the sun shining down. Where to go from there? Where would the bird go? What would the bird look like -- which is to say, would it be flying or perching since neither my ornithology nor illustration skills would permit much in the way of advanced identifiable bird making. What else would fill the picture? Using a bird cut from IKEA fabric and paper as "grass" or "leaves," I came up with 2 options, the one above and the one below.

Some people sketch, I make cut paper samples -- a remnant, perhaps, of my 2nd grade poster that won a Metro contest for advising people to "be safe on Metro and stay off the tracks" all crafted from ripped construction paper. After posting the 2 options on flickr, the awesome DQS 9 community asked some questions and gave me some suggestions that led to a 3rd option.

Which is the one I elected to pursue. Now I turned to color choices and fabric cutting, needing to work out branches, a bird, leaves, and grass. I sampled a few prints for the bird before selecting the final color. I chopped up some green scraps, cut out charcoal branches (aesthetics, not nature, dictated that choice), and mocked it up (that's what designers say, right?).

A gust of wind would have erased this, sort of like shaking an etch-a-sketch. This was a good thing, because I realized it wasn't yet complete and needed a little more punch.

Punch arrived courtesy a white border, onto which the scene could spill over. Also, it helped the colors pop and cemented my vision of looking out a window onto this scene. In fact, a little red bird (a cardinal perhaps) visited the tree branch outside my window today, but I digress as all this design work occurred a couple days ago. Finally satisfied with the layout, I tacked everything down and then paused to think about how to quilt it. Since I was indecisive, I opted to make the back, which was necessary for moving to the quilting stage anyways.

I started slowly, with the branches and leaves, which boosted my confidence for the bird. I had a sense of what I wanted the grass to look like but was unsure about how the quilting would work out. Fine, it turns out.

Fine after I added the flowers, anyways. The all green, all the time didn't totally work but I let it sit overnight and came up with a solution: flowers! I'm debating whether I should add some iridescent seed beads to the flowers, but aside from that, the quilt is bound and ready to go.

Except for adding my partner's name, that is, to the label. I pieced the back to riff off the front. The patchwork around the label is comprised of fabrics from the front, and I thought my template bird deserved some attention as well, so it got to play second fiddle to the front-side bird on the back. Actually, I really love the back and think it's fun on its own as well.


Abby and Stephanie August 23, 2010 at 11:26 PM  

Interesting to see how you developed your idea. Very cute and the back is just as cute. Lucky swap partner.

Anonymous August 24, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

Love! I'm not so into the birds, but this is a really cute quilt and could serve many purposes (depending on the dimensions). Your color choices and design turned out great!


Elsa August 24, 2010 at 10:19 AM  

this is really lovely and seeing the process was inspiring! thanks so much for sharing it!

~Michelle~ August 24, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

wow, lucky partner! that looks wonderful! :)

Rebekah August 26, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

so adorable! I love the rays in the background!

Wendz August 27, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

The whole composition is beautiful! You have a very lucky partner.

Mimi September 2, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

This is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing the process.

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