So Many Choices

It’s so easy to get tangled up in choices when I design a piece. Since my starting point is usually rough, at best, many shape and color decisions still need to be made. And it’s easy to slip into not seeing the forest for the trees territory.

I finished quilting my four scrappy medallion log cabins so I rewarded myself with a new start, based on a Spoonflower printed photo of a dry stone wall that encloses a local landmark.

Here’s the printed fabric of two rows of walls and trees.

I pulled possible additional fabrics and painted pieces of an old shirt and sheet. Then I pinned them up.

The large piece of commercial fabric is by Marcia Derse.

After I looked at them for about two months I thought of an approach to that wall fabric – make several narrowly separated stacks. I used most of the fabric in the above photo. The Marcia Derse and some teal curtain fabric were dropped. I created bias strips of yellow/red/orange to break up the dark area. At this point the piece measures about 45 inches long by 19 inches high.

Now comes the point I’m stuck at. I want to use narrow strips of a gradient fabric by Vicki Welsh between each stack. Right now my plan is to angle the edges of each stack, and possibly have the stacks at slightly different heights. But, before I cut more fabric I need to decide which way to run the gradient – top to bottom or left to right. Then, I need to decide if I want solid strips across the top and bottom and, if so, what colors.

I’m hoping you’ll have some opinions that will prod my thinking. Some possibilities work for color, but don’t necessarily contribute to the story. The story here is the impression you get of this wall as you drive by it on the street that runs parallel to it.

I’ve thought of blue for sky but the blue fabric I have is too strong and draws attention away from the trees. Below are some options I’ve pinned up. Most show only a few of the stacks as the insert fabric won’t stretch across the whole piece and I don’t want to cut it up and then change my mind.

Option 1: Gradient runs left to right, no top or bottom strip
Option 2: Gradient runs top to bottom, with orange fabric on bottom and gold on top
Option 3: Gradient runs left to right, dark orange on bottom, light orange on top
Option 4: Gradient runs left to right, gold fabric on top, orange fabric on bottom.
Option 5: Gradient runs top to bottom, mottled fabric on top, dark orange on bottom.

I can understood if you’re confused at this point. If nothing else let me know which options you think really don’t work. I’ve become like a toddler – just give me two options for my outfit. Otherwise I’ll dither forever.

One last point about this piece – the printed fabric photographs much less vividly than the other fabrics. IRL the colors are stronger. Maybe the type of printing process used caused this?


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

25 responses to “So Many Choices

  1. Laceflower

    My vote is option #2 top to bottom yellow on top, orange on the bottom.

  2. Donna

    How about one. I like option #1 and none of the others. I understand the desire to make the piece taller, but adding orange or yellow seem to distract from the trees which make the piece. I like blue and orange. Thin blue line? Less bright, more grayed? I see gray in the bricks. Sorry. This probably isn’t helping. I have that Marcia Derse fabric too. If you ever figure out what to do with it, please share.

    • One thought I had was to quilt each stack separately and then mount them all at slightly staggered heights on a backdrop. They would be tied together with a throughline along the top of the wall. While I love that Marcia Derse fabric I can’t get it to play well with anything else. It may end up on pillows.

  3. Option 2 and 4 are my choices – with #4 being the favorite of the two. The colors and movement work well. IMHO

  4. Diane

    This is really hard. I like the vertical gradation in #5 but don’t like the orange on the bottom. It feels too light. The bottom red in #4 looks better to me because it’s darker and anchors the piece. I like the orange/red next to the trees in #s 2, 3, and 4 because it works with the trees whereas the yellow #5 makes the trees recede. Of course, if the tree fabric is brighter in person I might have a different opinion. How’s that for a noncommittal answer? 😁

  5. I like option 5 but I also like there being one bias strip (first photo) across rather than one above the other, using two. I think with some fabric printing processes we need to really crank the colors up in order for them to print vibrant enough…but you are more the expert on having photos printed on fabric than am I!

  6. Trying again. I liked option 1 because it gave a sense of the driving by movement. The background would be different behind each tree due to the different perspective. Good luck. It looks interesting so far!

    • Thanks for commenting. Good point about how the background would change.

      • Oh I forgot I think light gray with a bit of orange and a hint of blue would be good on to as a pale sky and dark gray with orange on bottom for a suggestion of pavement. But maybe I’m being too literal. I guess I liked your inspiration. It made me think of a quilt I’m thinking of making about bird migration along corn fields you make a lot of beautiful quilts.

      • In a perfect world where I had every fabric ever made I would definitely do that combo, but I am committed to use what I have.And thanks. I think a quilt that shows large spiraling flocks of birds over a field would be wonderful.

  7. Well, since you asked for opinions………for me, it reads better with lighter fabric on top and the darker oranges on the bottom. Feels grounded and incorporated into the wall. No dark strips on top, but all the lighter golds and yellows look fine. You need very, very little for a suggestion of sky. It’s a great idea and it’s looking very good right now! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Doreen Kister

    Just throwing this out as an idea. What if you used a brown as the verticals lines to mimic additional trunks of trees? That might make it too dark but worth a try. What about a grey blue for the sky?

  9. I like the top. You seem to lose the wall fabric with top and bottom strips. Side note – I live by that wall. I love the idea of fabric made featuring it.

    • I understand what you mean. I will try some blue at the top, which may provide a spark to the wall. And given you live near Stan Hywet, I’ll say I took the photo at the corner of Portage Path and Genesee.

  10. Barbara Haugen

    Years ago I made a baby quilt that incorporated childhood crayon drawing from both parents which I had printed on fabric. Just like your photos printed on fabric, the colors were much less vivid than the commercial fabrics I wanted to use with the drawings. My solution was to add embroidery to the drawings using floss that was true to the brighter colors of the original drawing & that worked really well!

  11. Mary Jackson

    I like the bottom photo best.

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