Thursday, September 2, 2010

THINKING BACKWARDS : Shape and Construction






ALONE TOGETHER


During October I will be presenting a one-day workshop in Seneca, SC with the Mountain Lake Quilters and later in the month a three-day workshop at Quilting By the Lake 2 for The Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, NY.

The one day event is entitled DISCOVER YOUR SHAPE VOCABULARY and the QBL2 worshop is ALL ABOUT SHAPE. In preparation for these workshops I have been making a few samples and I'm sharing one here.

My personal body of work for some years has focused on large shapes and how they interact with one another and how these shapes activate space. The question I am most often ask is how do I piece this work. That is a hard question to answer because each construction is unique and my process for piecing is one I developed for myself. I am not suggesting that it is any different from anyone else but simply that as I began to develop my work I also had to figure out on a piece by piece basis how to sew it together.

Some constructions are pretty straight forward and some are mind benders. Sometimes I can sew everything without making extra cuts into the fabric and sometimes there just isn't anyway to sew all the seams without cutting into another shape to access the edges of some shape.

My term for constructing very complex things is "thinking backwards". What this means to me is that very often, the last thing I cut or add to the composition is the first thing I have to sew together. Sometimes I actually write out a plan for the order things must be sewn. I believe the ability to understand how to piece complex compositions is sort of like learning a computer program.....need inspires creative thinking. You have a problem, you find a solution. As a beginner if you look at the entire program you feel overwhelmed but if you start with one component of the process and take things step by step you can eventually learn the whole program. For example, you say "I'm going to learn how to create a folder". This helps you identify a specific set of things you need to do and you learn those steps. Piecing is exactly the same process.



This sample was created as a demonstration of Raw Edge Applique and I had created some shapes using a technique I will be teaching in my workshops. This technique uses paper patterns you create and I decided to construct a second Pieced sample using the paper pattern so we could see the difference.


The example I'm showing here was created to show ONE way to construct this composition. After I completed the piece I could see that there was another way I could have constructed the piece but I'll remember that for next time.


As stated earlier, I began this sample by cutting a pattern freehand from a piece of paper. This is not how I do my large work but it was helpful for this example as I also constructed one using raw edge applique and I wanted to compare them.





I have cut 3 shapes which will be sewn together to begin this composition. The first piece I cut was the brown shape. I used my paper patterns to cut these shapes but If I had not had a pattern, I would have used the leaf-like shape to cut the edges between itself and the brown fabric etc.




This shows the back side of the piece after it has been sewn and before I pressed.




This shows the face after pressing.



Next I add the side elements.




The shows the Face of piece after pressing. You can see that I gave myself more fabric in the brown fabric than I needed and that will be cut off. I do not add an official 1/4" seam. I just know I might need additional fabric to make things line up and I know the elements will "shrink". Most of my work involves large expanses of fabric and that shrinking doesn't impact my work in the way it impacts work done on a small scale like this sample.



Now I'm going to add a large piece of the brown fabric to the top. I slipped the brown fabric under the top edge of my construction and cut an arch. I don't mark it but I do often retrace the blade on the rotary cutter and practice how I am going to cut. This helps me to see better visualize the line I am going to cut.




This is the face after being stitched and pressed. The edges are getting very wacky but that if not an issue as they can be cut as needed when the composition is finished.



Now I am going to add a green shapes that mimicks the negative brown shape I started with. I used my ruler to cut some brown fabric which will become the top edge of the finished composition.





This shows the back of the elements stitched. Before I cut the brown fabric I did mark with chalk the spot where I should place the green shape.




Now the piece has been pressed and I will lay it next to a piece of brown fabric and cut a "bottom" for the green element. (I failed to make a photo of that.)



The piece is complete except for being squared up.



Side by side samples show some of effects of piecing small elements. Either technique can be successful but it's nice to have options.


Thank you for dropping by Studio 24-7. I love hearing from you....commenting is FREE!


20 comments:

  1. Very fascinating to a non-piecer!!

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  2. Very interesting. I have often wondered how you piece your works. Thank you for the demonstration!

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  3. Thank you Gerrie and Lynn. My process was learned from "on the job training";-)

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  4. thanks for your details here....

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  5. Thanks Jude! I've intended to do this post for some time.

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  6. This came just in time. I'm about to start something new and intended to applique, but now I think that, with a little tweaking of the sketch/composition, it might be more effective pieced. hmmm. . . .

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  7. Hi My Croft! Thank you for commenting. It's nice to have choices and be able to mix them when you like or use one or the other to best affect.

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  8. Thanks for posting this, definitely gets me thinking. I need to try this out soon.

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  9. You are welcome! Let me know how it works for you and please come again.

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  10. Terry, while my work couldn't be more different than yours, I often piece and raw-edge within the same piece,depending on how I want something to fit. Sometimes I don't want to lose the edge of a particular printed element so I will raw-edge it. Whatever works - right?

    Thanks for the look at your process.

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  11. I also piece and raw edge in the same works - depending on how finished I want the edge and how much I want that element to recede. Thanks so much for showing the process of your piecing - it makes me want to try some out just to see the results!!

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  12. Hey Rayna and Nina-Marie! It's fun to hear how you use these two processes. The flexiability of raw-edge applique has been a fun new process to learn and use as I have focused on piecing for so long. Thank you for commenting!!!

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  13. Thanks for this in-depth sharing of your process! It is sooo helpful to see it done step-by-step. I try to piece whenever possible; mostly because I prefer the "cleaner" look. And now I've seen that one could actually piece quite complicate-looking pieces ... I see new possibilities, I hope for endless new possibilities !

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  14. Thank you quilthexle! The "trick" to piecing a complex composition really is that you have to determine the order in which the pieces must be sewn. I appreciate your commenting.

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  15. Great post and instructions Terry. Thank you for your generosity.

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  16. Thank you Divagirl! I thought of you as I made the post. Always happy to hear from you.

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  17. Terry, knowing that you will be doing the program and then a workshop the next day for LMQG I've been really thinking about your workshop. My work is so totally different from yours and while I am working to expand my technique and learn new things I was concerned that your workshop could be way to the left for me. I've changed my mind and hope there is still room in your class.

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  18. Hi Marilyn! I look forward to having you in the class! You never know where you might pick up some idea that will push you ahead in your own personal work so I hope there is still a spot for you! Thank you for commenting and see you soon.

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  19. Like you I am a piecer- I love the challenge and engineering that piecing requires. When I am piecing a complicated quilt,I always look at as if it was a brainteaser- perhaps it is my form of fabric suduko.

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  20. Hi Judy! That is a great comparisum. I guess we've still got it!

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