Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Owe, I Owe, It's Off to Blog I Go...

No it’s not the taxman I’m singing about (I use the word singing VERY loosely here) although I do owe him too today. I owe my blog readers. My last entry was about preparing shapes for machine appliqué. Since then I have been experimenting with various invisible/monofilament threads for stitching the appliqué down. I am still not finished because I ran into some interesting challenges using monofilament on my new machine (Bernina 830). I am happy to report that I was able to finally make the machine sew beautifully with the invisible thread and I promise to post a complete account of this adventure in the near future.

In the meantime, I do have something to share regarding design and value.

Almost every year, the local guild I belong to creates a quilt specifically for fundraising. If the taxman is reading this – please be assured Mr. Taxman that this is NOT a raffle quilt but an OPPORTUNITY quilt. Individuals make DONATIONS for the chance of winning the quilt. Okay now that the disclaimer is out of the way….

A few times, I have been asked to create an original appliqué design that reflects our area – Miami, the Tropics, etc. for the opportunity quilt. The quilts have all be executed BEAUTIFULLY! However, I have never really been satisfied with the results because I felt the design was weak. The first time the finished quilt had way too much dark, empty space surrounding each block. This last time (our 2010 quilt), I remembered what I was unhappy about in the previous design and made sure not to repeat the same mistake. This time the drawings/patterns looked fine and I was very happy with them.

Then guild members began stitching the quilt blocks. All was still good. Again, the stitching was exquisite. Then when it was time to put it all together, my heart sank. The design of the center medallion does not blend well or flow with the surrounding blocks. Worse yet, the border design is awful. When I look at the quilt all I see are these huge, dark wings.

BUT THE DRAWINGS WERE BEAUTIFUL. Where did I go wrong? < Insert tears of shame and frustration here>

Before I worked up the courage to share this dilemma on my blog I confided my disappointment with a quilt artist and friend I respect and admire, Shirley Bloomfield.

Shirley figured it out right away. The reason the drawing/pattern looks fine and the quilt does not is VALUE (degree of lightness or darkness in a color).  The original drawing/sketch was only a line drawing. No lights and darks were defined.
If I had shaded a photocopy of the original line drawing, I would have seen the huge wing shapes right away and pulled out my trusty BIG eraser!

Yes, this is embarrassing, but I wanted to share because it’s been such a valuable lesson - VALUE is always in charge.   

OK – now I’m off to pay Mr. Taxman.

Best stitches,

Mercy in Miami

aka The Savage Quilter

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