Working from a Sketch

In a recent post on Daintytime Sherri Lynn Wood wrote about how images seen daily might be translated into patchwork possibilities, and invited us to share our sketches on the Facebook page Improv Workbook for Modern Quilters.

By coincidence, around the same time I had posted here some photos from a recent walk that gave me some ideas for possible improv projects. I thought I’d use them as a starting place to explore. Usually I just start cutting and sewing, but it occurred to me that perhaps if I was aiming for a more specific result, the result would be better, and perhaps the way to get specific was to draw a picture. Thanks Sherri Lynn, for the lightbulb moment. I chose this photograph of an old apple cannery on a grey day, and made a rough sketch on my tablet. The features of this image that I wanted to emphasize are the tall, looming vertical walls, the strong diagonals of the roof line, and the way all these details occupy the lower right hand half square triangle, leaving the open sky as negative space above.

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I thought the simplest way to render the corrugated sides of the building was alternating shades of the same color. I did not spend a lot of time looking for particular fabrics, but took the first few things I laid my hands on. It only occurred to me later that I could have chosen a striped fabric for that, and I may try that next time.

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I freehand cut some narrow strips and stitched them into three sections, but then took each of these apart to make six taller, narrower segments of strips. I liked the look of the strip sets. Then these were  sliced diagonally in a series of progressively taller trapezoids to get the perspective.  I added a narrow strip of the dark color to my “sky” fabric to represent the roof line. I got stumped by how to put together the peaks of the roof line and the downward sloping roof sections, (see photo and sketch) so I changed plans and left them out.  Part of my intention was to make this a quick rendering and I didn’t want to get too far down in the weeds. I tried to just sew, without worrying about whether it would be successful.  I stitched some roof and sky to each of the vertical pieces, then joined them together, off-setting the roof line to get the perspective. In this step I lost some of my vertical dimension, due to my failure to accommodate the off-set in cutting. I should have started with much longer strips for the buildings, and a wider piece of sky. I was not able to achieve my goal size of 12″ square.

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In the end my proportions are decidedly un-square (about 9 x 17″), but the general effect is at least on the right track…and it was a good exercise trying to replicate an image and seeing what worked and what didn’t. I actually like the resulting piece, though it is not quite what I set out to make. Here is Rendering #1. IMG_1020

The other day Stephie posted about When Improv Quilting Goes Wrong, and it really struck a chord. I’ll be going back to re-read her post again. I was feeling disappointed in this exercise, but I guess I could also view it as an opportunity to try again. So I will do that eventually. Linking up a little late this week with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters, and wishing you all a very pleasant day after Thanksgiving. And now, for something completely different, while the turkey carcass bubbles in the big pot, I’m off to do a “Buy Nothing Day” cyber sew-in with my Treadle Quilters group. More on that later!

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15 thoughts on “Working from a Sketch

  1. A great post. Thank you for leading me to Sherri Lynn Wood’s blog. (I’d read her book but missed following any URLs before returning it to the library.)

    I love your inspiration and the first iteration. Re-exploring and learning from “mistakes” creates a series. 🙂 As to strips Vs. striped fabric, I really like the slight irregularity you got with strips better than I would have liked straight lines of fabric stripes. More interesting. And how fun, the bird fabric for sky!

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    • Thanks, Claire, glad to oblige. Yes, the series is started, but it will be a very eclectic one, as I used all my birds and red rooflines for that one little piece. Will be interesting to explore further!

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  2. I saw your photo when you first posted it and wondered how you would handle those “downward sloping roof lines.” Good call to leave them out – at least this time. Striped fabric would work but I like the wiggles in your made fabric. This is a success to me. Especially because you kept it small – something I usually forget to do.
    Thanks for linking this thoughtful post to AHIQ.

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    • Thanks, Ann, I agree, small is good. I realized I don’t have to go for a whole bed-sized thing every time. And my space is much more conducive to small pieces. The AHIQ prompt is a really good incentive for me, and I am loving other peoples’ posts as well.

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  3. This is a really interesting post and I too like what you ended up with, even if it’s not what you were aiming for – but then that’s improv for you. You could have used striped fabric, and it would be interesting to see how that works, but I like your pieced stripe sets a lot. I hope you will make Rendering#2! Thanks for sharing on AHIQ – I love the thought provoking stuff.

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  4. I noticed how the birds fade behind the roof’s thinner red fabric – almost looks as if they are leaving and returning through the roof. A nice visual whimsy. Very active little piece. Rivergal

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    • Good eye! I think it’s the darker mottling in the red, but it sure does create that illusion with the birds…and I had not seen it. Photography reveals things we missed with our eyes.

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  5. I like that you pieced the strips instead of use a stripe fabric. Because the seam lines and seam allowance under gives a slight dimension to the piece. A stripe fabric cannot impart this. Enjoyed seeing how you translated picture into patchwork 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comments, Ema! I actually kind of like the results I got, though they were not exactly what I was trying for!

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  6. I don’t see this as anything gone bad. I see the roof line, the wall sections, and lots of interest. Definitely your post shows your thinking process and procedure. I find it especially interesting when I can learn from someone else’s work and I love that you’ve given me some ideas for my own architectural quilts. Thank you!

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  7. I do not seen anything gone wrong with your work. I see the roof line, the wall sections, all of it, and it’s all interesting. I especially appreciate that you’ve written about your process and provided lots of pictures. I’ve learned a few things that I can apply to my own work, and that is especially interesting. Thank you!

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    • Thanks, Mary, for visiting and for your comments. That little sketch is growing on me, I will admit. I keep looking at it every day and liking it better! Come back again!

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  8. Sue, I like your finished piece a lot! It looks better too because you sewed those improv stripes, than if you had simply used a striped fabric. I am glad you like it better now, because it sure doesn’t look like anything went wrong to me.

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