I am very excited to be kicking off the Blog tour for the C+T book Quilts Made Modern: 10 Projects, Keys for Success with Color & Design, From the FunQuilts Studio by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Today they join me for a behind the Scenes tour from their Fun Quilts studio. I asked a couple of questions to get the ball rolling… [Weeks has posted a little behind the scenes on her blog too]
What is the process of designing a quilt?
There are generally two ways that we design quilts. The first is to just sketch ideas, often with a sketchbook and a pen while we’re waiting somewhere. Many, if not most, of our designs start in the waiting room of doctors’ offices, on the bleachers waiting for our daughter’s swim team practice to end or on a plane somewhere. Sometimes we’ve seen something that has inspired the form but often it’s just intuitive. In this case, we don’t have any fabrics in mind, we’re just looking at forms. Once we have the form and proportions down, we look at fabrics.
The other method is the inverse. We start with a color or fabric or collection of fabrics that we love and we think about what form would show that fabric or group of fabrics to their best advantage. We both have to like it before it’s a go.
Some people also find it surprising that we select the backing, the binding and often the quilting pattern before we even prewash the fabrics. We’re very methodical and organized in this way. Each project has a basket with all of the parts in it as well as a worksheet with all of the dimensions figured out. Most of our quilts become patterns either published by us or in books or magazines so we have to be able to document the fabrics, techniques and measurements we’ve used on every quilt. In some cases we’ve even decided where we’re going to photograph the quilts and how we’re going to style them before we’ve even sewn a stitch.
What are the processes of designing a collection of quilts that hang together to both teach skills and give variety and appeal to a broad aesthetic?
We’re very aware that we will only get to write so many books in our careers so we are very careful in how we organize the collection of quilts that we show. We don’t just want them to look good together. For Quilts Made Modern, we actually developed a spreadsheet to ensure that we had good variety in techniques, palettes, sizes and fabric styles. In our minds, each design has to audition to be in the book. If there are too many quilts that are made with the same technique, we have to eliminate some. We want to have quilts made with modern prints, hand dyes, solids, retro prints and tone-on-tones. Some projects we wanted to hand quilt and others needed to be machine quilted. We wanted hand appliqué as well as machine appliqué. It would be helpful to the reader, we reasoned, to have some wall hangings, others in a napping size and others as bed quilts. We really needed that spreadsheet to make sure that we had all of our bases covered. It’s also paramount that our quilts not look like anyone else’s.
We also keep a board in the studio with swatches of all of the fabrics that we’re considering and thumbnail printouts of each design so we can see how the fabrics are going to look together once they are in a book and we can see that the designs aren’t similar to one another.
We decide what we think will be the most inspiring group of quilts for our readers and if we have to work harder or longer to make that group of quilts, we just live with that. Small Change took eight months to hand quilt but we really felt that there needed to be a modern version of hand quilting in the book so we just scheduled time every day to work on it. We want every quilt in the collection to be integral to the whole look of the book so if there’s one we’re not 100% enthusiastic about, we keep auditioning other designs until we come up with a group of designs, techniques and fabrics that looks really cohesive and strong.
In the back of my mind, I’m also thinking about the photoshoot and how the colors and forms are going to look in the book. Although Bill and I scout the locations for the photoshoots together, I’m in charge of styling and propping each of the shots. (Note: below you can see under the pen that we actually drew the shot that would become the cover of the book based on the scouting shots on the left).
We’ve had to eliminate fabrics that we love because we know that some fabrics aren’t very appealing when photographed at a distance and then shrunk down to fit on a page. Most of our readers will never see the original quilts so we have to make sure that they will look as good in print as they do in person.
Many people tell us that their copies of our second book, Modern Quilt Workshop, are tattered and dog-eared because they keep going back to it and rereading parts or looking at various designs. That’s what we are always thinking about: how can we put together a group of quilts and text that makes the reader want to go back to the book over and over again. We really hope that we’ve done that with Quilts Made Modern as well.
Thank you Bill and Weeks. Make sure to follow along on the rest of the tour… there are chances to win a copy –
although we are not giving away a copy at this stop we are now offering a giveaway – please leave a comment here to be in the running – you have 48 hours to enter – We are extending the giveaway until the end of the week (friday or saturday depending where you are in the world). Now closed – the winner will be chosen at random and then contacted via email. The winner is number 111 – congrats Kate – you have been emailed.
- July 25 WhipUp.net
- July 26 Sew Mama Sew
- July 27 CraftGossip.com
- July 28 boltneighborhood.com
- July 29 Generation Q Magazine
- July 30 Connecting Threads
- July 31 Craft Nectar