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Design Process 2 - On Grids

Hi everyone and welcome once again to Wednesday. It’s been a very quiet day around here, mainly because Damo and I both got food poisoning last night and we are feeling pretty ordinary today!! So not a lot going on at Casa Fielke, I’ve managed to WRITE StitchyMites and watch an endless loop of Friends, and Damo has POSTED StitchyMites and watched a bunch of Star Wars movies and slept. Ugh I hate being sick!

Anyway. We were talking last week about sketchbook and idea files, and this week I’ve promised a little insight into graph paper. 

As patchworkers, everything we do can be reduced to a square. Even curves and organic shapes can be measured within the inch grid of a quilt design. This doesn’t just apply to quilting obviously, but it certainly has more resonance in quilt design than in some other places, mainly because of the block structure of most patchwork.

When I design with graph paper, not only am I working out shapes and decorative impact of the quilt, but also the maths for the pattern, and determining the size of my appliqué shapes. It's like I’m drawing a map for my self to follow as the quilt goes along. 

The first thing I do is determine the size of my grid squares. Usually I make them 2”, so that I can fit a queen sized quilt onto the A2 grid pads I use. If the quilt is smaller or more detailed I might make them 1”, but never larger usually - mainly because making each one 4” means that there’s too much going on inside each little square for the plan to be useful to me.

Sometimes though, if there is a lot of detail I will plan the quilt out in a larger scale, and then break the smaller parts out and grid those too. 

After 26 years of writing patterns professionally, things like how large the squares need to be cut to get quarter square triangles comes without having to think, so as I write the pattern that 2” square on the grid becomes my map for your instructions. I always have the grid, my notebook and the completed section of the quilt with me as I write, so that I can refer back, double check and measure as I go.

Here’s a few of the BOM quilt patterns over the years. You can see that sometimes they’re quite fleshed out, and sometimes just a reference for how many blocks and how large they are, but they all function the same way.

The Grasshopper

Simple Folk

When I did the sketch for Rainy Days and Sun Rays, I did it on my lightpad, with the graph at the back so that I could still see it to draw - that way I could have the pretty drawing ready to scan in to the computer without the grid behind it.

Rainy days