08 January 2007

quilt planning

A couple people have asked how I plan my quilts, so here's the scoop. I'm certainly no expert, and I'd love to hear how other people do it as well. (purty please!)

I'm a fairly novice quilter, but I don't generally use patterns. Twin taught me to quilt and she has done some beautiful quilts that are more traditional, including a sampler of classic quilt blocks. After learning the basics of piecing, I struck out on my own and designed my own quilt-tops. I've stuck to really basic, geometric designs because a) I like the simplicity and b)I'm lazy. Most of the designs I've done are just built around simple squares.

I have a hard time visualizing what a design is going to look like in my head so I always plan it out on the computer first. I use Adobe Illustrator, which is the most commonly-used illustration software for computer graphics. It lets you easily and quickly create shapes and manipulate them. It's not difficult to learn, though the program is pretty horribly expensive—out of the range of most hobbyists.

I think there are software programs just for quilters, though I've never had any experience with them. Anybody know anything about any of these?

But you don't really need any fancy software to plan your own quilts. Like my design teachers always scolded us, you shouldn't let your tools dictate your end result, anyway. (blah blah blah, but they had a point.) Graph paper and colored pencils will get you there just the same, if a little more slowly than a computer.

That's it, really. See, I told you I don't really know what I'm doing—I just jump in and figure it out (in my own little anal-retentive, highly-organized way).

p.s. You can go to my quilting archives if you fancy.


sally said...

Very cool. I like the simple designs as well [for the same reasons you shared].

molly said...

I'm in the same school of thought about simple designs.
My favorite design on this page is the blue and yellow design--second from the bottom on the left.

Oh, and I know what you mean about those design programs--I've been wanting to pick up an out dated version of adobe or corel for my mac for awhile now. Even those are pricey!

hannah said...

i love your clean style julie, it shows in your cards too. i love thinking about what a quilt will look like, it is the math of yardage that kills me. loving those top two blue + red ones. so hot.

Bettsi said...

That was fun! I loved perusing your quilt gallery. I think my favorite is little Apara's quilt- so sweet! You make me think that maybe someday I could tackle a quilt again. I'm not very good at being precise and my past attempts have been so-so. Thanks for the inspiration!

sulu-design said...

Yeah, you don't know what you're doing. I wish I didn't know what I was doing half as much as you don't know what you're doing (or soemthing like that).

Kelli said...

Oooh, you are super fancy with your computer program. I sit down with a piece of paper and draw out my ideas and then match the squares with fabric. Granted, I've only ever done this once, but I liked the result!

Tammy said...

Hey Julie!

I love the stuff you make. I actually own Electric Quilts -- a quilt planning software that lets you play with color (why I bought it), design and, when you create a design (or series) that you like -- will compute the yardage based on what size quilt you're making. I find it energizing to play with the different layouts and colors - you can even scan fabric into it and use it in the design.

They have just come out with a new version (I have the older one -5) so the version I have just plummeted in price - I think you can get it for around $50 or less...I haven't checked lately.

But for planning - it's fab!

amandajean said...

can I start by saying: I love your blog...you make me laugh! your writing and sense of humor is great.

I love your charlie quilt...I just went back and read the story again...hee hee hee. I also like the orange and blue quilt. And Apara's quilt....ok, so I love almost any quilt (not to lessen the compliment, mind you!)

you asked about planning a quilt....how much do you really want to know? I usually use a good old pencil, paper and a calculator. one time I scanned a bunch of fabrics and then imported them into quark xpress and designed a patchwork quilt on there...time consuming but a great way to get an idea of how it will turn out. heck, sometimes I just start sewing 2 pieces of fabric together and start sewing and see where I end up. any way, it sure is a whole lot of fun!

duck said...

Hi. I knew someone had to be playing around with this, too. I am a beginner quilter and spent some hours yesterday scanning my fabrics and setting up the images so that each they would reflect a 2 inch square.

I used to use Illustrator, but haven't touched the program in over a year--and could no longer remember how to even do the basics. I tried placing my images on an excel document, but that was way to cumbersome and inexact. My daughter is recommending Quark.

Have you written out any instructions for your Illustrator designing?

This is something I really, really want to do. I hope we can keep in touch.