This quilt has been an epic project for me, so it has taken a bit of recovery time to think about how I wanted to summarize it. And I still need to get more photos when the sun is shining! But here is a blog post about it in the meantime.
Evolution of a Design
You know the saying about how you can read history backwards? I think that applies here as I look at how I came to this quilt design. Here’s a bit of background leading up to the design:
March, 2016 – Present: Made a lot of 1″ strip pieced quilts (ongoing)
After making my first quilt with 1″ strips in early 2016, I continued to iterate on designs featuring 1″ strips. It is piecing that I feel very comfortable with.
Nov, 2017: Experimentation with generative quilt design
Sept, 2018: Participated in the Michael Miller Challenge
I didn’t have much of structured plan for this quilt, other than to fill in strips (1/4″) in an improv style around a defined negative space created shape. Let’s just say I started the quilt not loving the fabric, but it grew on me as it came together.
Oct, 2018: Purchased a longarm
And I proceeded to practice on said longarm with a few quilts. The longarm opened the door for me to work on larger quilts, as I had machine quilted all of my quilts on my domestic machine(s) up to this point (and only hired a longarmer once!).
Oct, 2018: Merged technique of generative quilt design with Michael Miller improv quilt strategy
I wanted to figure out a way to mimic my strategy for my improv Michael Miller challenge quilt via code, and add in logic to introduce a color gradient working with a specific solids set. That’s what I did in this quilt, finished in October of 2018.
Feb, 2019: Combined negative space with generative code
Combining the generative algorithm with negative space (and experimenting with various ratios of said negative space), I created a design for this quilt suitable for longarm quilting. The quilt design measured 82″ x 82″ without a border.
Implementation (More Photos Below from IG)
Once I had my design in a size that I thought was something I could handle, I brought the design (in SVG format) into Photoshop to break down into small components. Having worked on the previous quilt, I had a sense of how much piecing I could accomplish in 1 – 2 hour spurts of sewing time each day, which is a good chunk of time where I can remain focused.
I divided my quilt design into these chunks and tackled them one by one. I started with the center X because that would be the most time consuming piecing and after that, I would be happy to move on to quicker piecing (IE for morale). Then, I worked on each remaining side (sort of like a triangle). I merged the sections via non-pieced fabric (not going the “braided” route), via regular machine stitching and a tiny bit of hand stitching, knowing that I planned to heavily quilt these sections.
Once I pieced everything together, I loaded it up on my longarm! I did not want quilting to distract from the piecing, so I chose to outline the pieced strips, like this previous one. I wanted denser quilting in the non-pieced section that was consistent with the design aesthetic of the quilt and also not distracting from the piecing. I had a whole two months of piecing to think about the quilting, so I ended up going with straight horizontal lines throughout. Binding in a matching light blue color was added to finish the quilt.
- Solid: Robert Kaufman Kona in sky
- Prints: Liberty Tana Lawn, ~50 different prints
- Back: Free Spirit voile
- Piecing thread: Aurifil 50wt, white/offwhite
- Quilting thread: Aurifil 40wt, white
- Batting: Warm & Natural Cotton
- Piecing and quilting via Juki machines
It’s funny that I spent 2+ months on this quilt and the finish was anticlimactic. But check out the #stephskardalquiltsfeb2019 images on Instagram to see all the process photos for this quilt.