Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A variety in scale makes interesting quilts

Small, medium and large scale prints.
Have you been through your fabric stash lately? Look to the back of the closet, the bottom of the storage tubs, or in that box that's shoved in the back corner of your sewing room. Do you have some small-print calicoes of days past? Does your scrap basket go that deep??

At the April Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting, "Scale and Variety" was the program topic. "Whether you are making traditional, contemporary or art quilts," said presenter and quilt historian, Vista Mahan, "a variety in scale of fabric prints will make your quilts more interesting." Examples of actual fabrics from Ms. Mahan's stash illustrated small, medium and large prints, regular vs. random prints, dense vs. open, and various forms and varieties of dots, checks and plaids.

In the 1970s and 80s, variety was achieved primarily by choosing a different colorway—dusty pink or country blue—of the same print fabric. Today, cottons as well as batiks offer a wide variety of small, medium, large and jumbo size motifs, random and regular patterns, geometric and stylized designs, organic and abstract patterns, florals, animal motifs, reproduction and novelty prints in myriad colors and value.

Example of the Scale exercise.
Scale also pertains to the relative size of the blocks and borders in a quilt or the pieces in an individual quilt block. In an exercise to illustrate the importance of variety in scale, guild members created a 6-patch layout and then modified it with additional pieces to make it more visually interesting. The variations are unlimited.

So, if you uncovered an abundance of small-scale calicoes in the deep recesses of your stash, you are officially granted permission to purchase additional fabrics with variety in scale to 'round out' your collection. Variety in print, scale, value and color will take your quilts from dull and flat to interesting and fabulous!
Vista also worked examples from her antique and vintage quilt collection into the presentation. It was interesting to see how quilters from previous generations incorporated the design principles into their work.
Vista Mahan (left) displays a vintage quilt top from her collection during her presentation on Scale.
 Show and Tell
Examples of the Texture Exercise from the March program.

Tote bag for a rotary mat (left).
Wall hanging using a woven fabric technique (right).
Japanese kimono fabrics (left).
Half-square triangle block swap (right). That's another way to achieve variety in your fabric collection.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scale: How Much Big and How Much Small

The discussion in Chapter 3 from the book, Fearless Design for Every Quilter, by Lorraine Torrence and Jean B. Mills, will encourage us to consider scale in our quilts. We are most attracted to scale in our fabric prints, but we also need to consider scale in the size of our quilt pieces. Here's what you will need to do the exercise on scale during the Choo Choo Quilters Guild Meeting at 6:30 on Monday April 18th:
:: glue stick
:: scissors
:: sketchbook
:: Fearless Design book
:: Bring your March homework assignment on texture for critique.