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A Patchwork Canada: Prairie Elements

Design and Colour

Where to start?

Never having worked on a landscape piece before, I am relying on the knowledge and experience of quilters and embroiderers, who have published books on the subject, to help me through the process. These are a few of the books that I am finding helpful for this process.

Top to bottom/left to right. "Adventures in Design" and "Color Play" both By Joen Wolfram; "Nature's Patterns" by Joyce R. Becker; "Luminous Landscapes" by Gloria Loughman; "Serendipity Quilts" by Susan Carlson; "Machine Embroidered Flowers" by Alison Holt.

What have I learned so far?
How to proceed?

1. Choose a theme.

The quilt will be a triptych, 3 long wall hangings, each representing a particular region of western Canada.

There will be 3 pieces, exact size yet to be determined, and for current purposes I'm working with a 12" x 24" dimension for each piece. The first in the series will be of the prairies, this will be followed with images of the mountains, and the final piece will represent the Pacific coast, sea to sky.

2. Find your Inspiration. 

This photo of the prairies will be the starting point. The image will give me the basic outline for the wall hanging and still allow me to add, subtract, ignore, etc., as the spirit moves.

From the sprinkling of the blue and yellow wildflowers in the green grasses to the golden field meeting the blue sky on the horizon, the photo will also help with the colour choices.

Here it's been converted into black and white to offer more contrast between the shapes and to better visualize the flow of lines.This made it easier to trace.

3. Create the design.

The small tracing (above) was enlarged on a copier to make a full size pattern which will serve as the design board. A second enlarged copy will be cut apart into templates.

 The size and placement of the tree may change. A scattering of flowers in the foreground will add a sense of perspective while the field and sky gradually disappear into the horizon.

4. Decide on colours. 

To find the value and intensity of the colours, it is easier to work with a black and white photo.

I will aim to sort each colour family into 5 values.

A self imposed goal for this project is to use only (well mostly)  fabrics from my stash. (Borrowing from my daughter's stash will be allowed. ...and the occasional purchase of a fat quarter or two may also be necessary!). Here are two colour palettes that I have been able to pull from my stash so far. I had hoped for colours that were more neutral, but given my self imposed limitations, I may have to alter the plan.

The first palette is somewhat softer then the collection below.

These colours are a little deeper and richer.

I'll have to start cutting them up and playing with them to get a better feel for the mood of the piece. I constantly have to remind myself that this is a learning experience, and when experimenting, making some wrong decisions will be part of the process.  I have to to allow myself freedom to play, as Susan Carlson indicates in her title: "Serendipity Quilts: Cutting Loose Fabric Collage".

5. Think about technique.

Books are a fantastic resource.

From Susan Carlson's free-style fabric collage, "Serendipity Quilts", to Gloria Loughman's use of a more structured piecing technique, "Luminous Landscapes" and Alison Holt's free motion machine embroidery embellishments, "Machine Embroidered Flowers", these books are all a great resource for teaching and for inspiration. Joen Wolfram's books, "Adventures in Design" and "Color Play" are both great references for designing any quilt.

There are as many different ideas and techniques as there are quilters. The trick will be to find something that works for me.


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