I’ve been working this “Black and White Whole Cloth” quilt for months now and I think (hope!) I am nearing the end. Even I am shocked at how long this quilt has taken me-I started it in November after all! It’s going to be a large quilt-maybe 60″x80″-ish, intensely quilted. I wrote about it earlier here and here.
I only know how I work and I love to hear how others work their projects. Design is difficult for me so one way I help myself along in the process is to sketch my possible motifs and designs on paper. That way I start to get the muscle memory I’ll need to quilt it. I also begin to get a feel for the proper scale of the motif and whether it will work where I want to put it. I am not a skilled drawer but this is still a very important step for me. I will draw page after page until I settle on the motifs I hope will work.
Once I begin to get the sense that I have a quilting plan, I will layer up a practice sandwich-it MUST be the same batting, fabrics and threads that I plan to use on my quilt. This sample is pretty big-about 20″x24″.
My Mission Statement for this quilt includes using very high contrast thread so that I can see the stitching lines from afar, and, I hope that it will become a 2-sided quilt. I love two-sided quilts! By choosing white sateen for the front and black sateen for the back, I was on my way to making this quilt two-sided-yippee!!
I spent many stitches on the practice sandwich deciding on the right thread. I wanted high visibility which meant a thicker thread, but I also wanted to put skinny little 100 wt Superior Silk in the bobbin. I couldn’t have too much discrepancy between the weights of the threads or my tension would be difficult to manage. On this quilt, with the high value contrast I have built into the quilt, the tension needs to be absolutely dead on per–fect. It has been quite a challenge to maintain that perfect tension with that particular thread combination as well as a wool batt that compresses to nothing!
Oh geez I love the back! That luscious light gray silk thread on that black sateen makes my heart sing! I bet I have at least 15 hrs in on the practice sandwich alone.
But that is nothing compared to the practice I did 7 years earlier on “If Diane Met Karen”. Here you see how much “practice” I did before I put a needle to the actual quilt. I had to work out my decisions on batting, motifs, colors, threads, scale. I had no “intuition” at that point and needed to test out every single thing before I started the quilt.
I don’t even want to know how much time I spent practicing on this one. It was worth it in the long run! I can’t imagine starting a quilt cold turkey without some good ‘ole “Pencil, Practice and Process”!