Thursday, May 10, 2007

Following The Pattern - Not!

What do you when you're a little hyper about going shop hopping? You sew, of course. I made another four-inch block. This one is slanted star. I really like how well these polka dots are going together. They are playing nicely.

The Stashbuster topic of the week is do you prefer to work from patterns or use the patterns as a starting point and "go with the flow?" The first two quilts I made I followed the patterns precisely. But after that never again. I use the pattern as the starting point and tweak it as I go along. These days I'm more apt to design my own quilt. I've purchased many technique books. Books about settings blocks, block books, border books, binding tips. Now I let the fabric "talk" to me and let it tell me what it wants to be. I can't help but look at a quilt pattern and immediately I start tweaking it without thinking twice.

I've had to give up doing mystery quilts because my brain refuses to follow directions. The quilt in the photo is a good example of not following directions. Once I started assembling the blocks they kept "talking" to me, rather loudly I would add. They refused to follow the directions and demanded to put together this way. Since then I always listen to my fabric. Oh yeah, I might have some particular ideas in mind, such as making HST's using triangles on a roll or an exercise in making a scrap quilt and not letting the same fabric touch itself; but unless the fabric wants to cooperate I can't always follow my plan.

These days I think of my quilting as more of a "play" or "exercise" time. What do I want to do today and what fabric is calling to me to be played with? Since I've made this shift in how I approach quilting I've enjoyed the process so much more. I seldom have stress to finish a project unless it's a gift. I seldom have to go shopping because there's always fabric calling to be played with on any given day.

I suppose you're wondering why I'm this way with my quilting. I guess because it's similar to what my job is. I am a product designer. It's not as glamorous as it sounds. It's not for fabric. But I have a database of over 100,000 hotel records and it's my job to make that pile of "stuff" talk to our clients by creating meaningful reports. Some days some records don't want to play, and some days those records want to play nicely. I know the techniques to make those records meaningful. Because what our company does is so unique, all the reports I have created are brand new so, other than my boss telling me what he wants to see in the end, I have to be the one who "writes the pattern."

That's how I approach quilting. The fabric is my "database". The books provide me a vision of an end product. It's up to me to take my "database" and make it sing.

All sounds pretty philosophical, huh? But I like it.

Tomorrow morning is time to shop! I won't be around until Sunday. I'm sure I'll have tales to tell and plenty of photos of my goodies. I hope everyone has a great weekend. If you are in a area where are fires or floods or storms I pray you will stay safe. Bye for now.


sewnut said...

Your red white and blue mystery quilt looks so much like a mystery quilt I did with a group a few years ago. We did 9 of them and they all looked so different yet the pattern still stood out. My son's chosen colour values were close in range so the pattern looked blended.

Your redwork is looking great!

Angela said...

Love the americana quilt!! Adorable.

Patti said...

What an interesting way to look at your quilting! I've never heard anyone describe their design process in that way - the similarities to your job. It's fun to "see inside" other quilter's heads to see how they look. I have no idea what the quilt in the picture was supposed to look like but I love the way you set it together!

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

Love the slanted star block!

I use patterns as a guideline but mostly do it my way. I love to design blocks and quilts and make changes as I go. You are right the fabric does talk and I listen.

Have A Great Weekend!

Karen said...

Hi SweetP, interesting insight into your thinking as a designer while quilting. I'm veering so far from the specified pattern in the Jo Morton Little Women series that I wonder if I'm making everybody crazy lol. But I like to design, too.

Laura said...

Your mystery quilt is fantastic! Have fun at the shop hop!

Linda_J said...

Good for you, Paula---tweak away! I don't think I could ever totally, slavishly follow most patterns either. First of all, since most of the ones I do are for kids the pattern has to be resized almost automatically.

I can't do mysteries either but that is because of how my mind works. I need to see the end picture and then use that to pick my fabrics and work back through the process, altering the methodology and techniques if it suits me.

Owens Family Adventures said...

I am soooo jealous that you are going on a shop hop!!! That is one of the many things I miss about not living in the US. One more year and look out quilt shops!!!
As for directions, I kinda look at them as suggestions politely given. :) I add some stuff here, take away a little there and then walla, I have what I want.
Love the red quilt!! Have fun this weekend!

Meredith said...

Good luck on the shop hop. Buy some fabric for me since I am still on no buy. I did one mystery quilt and I never finished it. I took it apart.