Evolution through Collaboration

Unrealistically my dream is to one day quilt and craft for a living. Or at least, half a living. But until then I work for a modern/minimalist architecture firm here in Austin. I am in a downtown office with all white everything, and floor to ceiling windows. It’s beautiful and I’m surrounded by really creative people who design really beautiful spaces and structures. But my job doesn’t allow for too much creativity and at the end of each work day I look forward to getting home to my little space where I can quilt and craft and naturally, hang out with the dogs.

In an interesting turn of events, I suggested a custom made quilt for one of our clients who recently had a little girl and my boss leapt at the chance! And with that, I started sketching at an idea for the back of the quilt thinking I would do something for the front in line with other pieces I’ve done and make the house on the back a sort of suggestion rather than production. Here’s my first pass.


The client has said that they imagine the family sitting on the upper balcony looking at the stars so I wanted to start with that idea. I thought I’d make the sky the focus and have a small rendering of the house in the bottom corner. I sent the sketch along with photos of some of the quilts I’ve made so my co-collaborators could get a sense of my usual direction. [i.e. LOUD] One of the designers immediately replied saying how much she liked my Plus Sign quilts and asked if I could incorporate the pluses into the sky. Of course! Another designer chimed in that because Austin calls its sunset the Violet Crown, that I should incorporate some purple into the sunset. Of course! Then we had this.

photo 1

On the left hand side are the correct representations of the house vs. the placeholder I was using to generally represent the location of the house on the quilt. Incorporating the actual rendering took a little doing but it worked out.

photo 5

The additional lines will be small strips of fabric joined together to represent the screen that covers the simple facade of the house and adds visual interest. This was the easy part. After this came math and wow. The math on this was really challenging.

Each block of the plus sign is 4 x 4. If there are 2 across, it’s 4 x 8, and then 4 x 12 for 3 across. After playing around with a bunch of ways to calculate fabric widths/heights within the design for the house, I realized that making each block measure 4 x 4 didn’t make sense. I still needed to make each 1,2, or 3 square across piece measure the same as the solid pieces in the plus signs. Complicated. So I blew up the portion of the design that needed to be “mathed” and started by highlighting those 1, 2, and 3 square sections.

photo 3

You can see where I outlined the whole plus signs with red to make it easier for my brain to process what I was seeing even when I am breaking them up within that constraint.

When you piece a quilt, you lose 1/2″ every time you join two pieces. One 1/4″ from each piece. That is the seam allowance when you quilt. 1/4″. Don’t forget. That means if I’m joining a piece in the middle of two blocks I want to add 1/4″ to each side. And if I’m splitting a block in half horizontally or vertically, I also have to add 1/4″. Don’t get me started on the small 1.5″ pieces that I’ll piece vertically for the screen. Those are super tricky and I suspect will be far from perfect. Sort of like life.

photo 4

Here it is. A super sexy chart of all of the pieces that will make up the house. SC, DG, LG, and G all represent the color of the piece. And I’ll tell you something right now. It this works the first time around it will be a MIRACLE. There’s just no way. This is sort of my first quilt math ever so I’m not sure how in the world it could work the first time. Seriously. Stranger things have not happened.

In the meantime, progress continues on the Single Girl Quilt and I love it SO MUCH.

photo 2 (1)

Those are actually more like 1.5′ across rather than 2′ so this is currently about 3′ x  3′. I think. I made a very inexact pass at measuring it before work this morning. It’s going to be SO BIG and I love it so. much.


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