Designing With a Deadline

I set myself a deadline to make a quilt. The deadline is fairly unrealistic, but it'll move me that much closer to something else. As a minor goal towards the greater goal, I want to finish the design and prepare the background for my applique before the fabrics arrive that I'll use for the applique. An email arrived this morning with the news that my fabrics should arrive Friday.

draft design
Part of my initial drawing on newsprint.
Once again while in the flow of the initial project, I sketched out a great preliminary design. But it needs major tweaking before I go to fabric with it. I tried to recreate it in my computer graphics program and while I got the main elements done, I just couldn't get the layout right, nor a few particular shapes made that way. I simplified the design to give myself the main frame work of my quilt, but a printer glitch killed that idea. I'm not sure what happened, but the 25 pages that were supposed to print out became about half a ream when I returned to the printer. That'll teach me to do something else while the printer does its thing!

I could have figured it out I'm sure, but with a deadline ahead, I decided to go old-school.

A quick word about computer graphics programs: Some are expensive but good, some are fun but too simple to really be useful, some are free but don't play nicely with others. Nearly all of them are less than intuitive to use. I know just enough to get half-way in and get mired and frustrated. I'm also frugal and have avoided buying the industry standard of Adobe Illustrator. I also haven't been sure if I really needed such a program as much can be done without these programs. In fact, some people can do great things with the simple Paint program that is on nearly all computers. I sometimes wonder if a drawing tablet and software would help me, but do I need it and can I figure it out? If you are a whiz at these things, let us know what you use in the comments.

Needs a lot of work!
I put together a big sheet of freezer paper for my pattern drawing, mounted it to my design wall and began drawing again. After putting down some registration lines and circles to define the wreath I'm making, I began to try to recreate my initial drawing. I also used the computer graphic designed elements (those I printed out without any trouble) pinned in place instead of drawing the flowers and leaves individually.

My design wall is made with a 1 inch thick foam insulation, so it's easy to pin into.

There's something ironic and cheerful about using butterfly pins to stick something onto the wall.

I use two pencils taped together to draw stems. In this case, I used some batting as a separator for larger stems.

It is still so far from my original drawing but I'm still working on it. I could scan it it into the computer and use the graphics program to trace the drawing, but my software doesn't have an auto-trace function (Or I haven't found it yet....) so it would take a while. There's also just a nice feeling when I draw by hand and a more organic shape. That's important to the concept of this piece, otherwise I'd draw just an eighth or quarter of the design and then rotate it around for the entire quilt.

That's enough rambling about my designing. Now I am off to draw, erase, repeat. I can't wait to get started in fabric on this one!


  1. I have the Creative Suite; if you have access to the educational discount it's not as bad. I use both Illustrator and Indesign for quilt patterns and diagrams, and to a much lesser extent Photoshop. Particularly Illustrator does have a steep learning curve and I'm by no means an expert, but I do love using it and am able to make nice illustrations and designs with it. I also have an old tablet that I stole from my husband and find it makes certain things a lot easier.

  2. I use a Wacom Intuos graphics tablet, which I really bought for doing other artwork on, but have used to design art quilts as well. I used to use PaintshopPro which worked great with the Wacom; I switched to GIMP when PSP went out of date. PSP has now been relaunched... I'm tempted, as the Wacom was more compatible with it than it is with GIMP. But I do like GIMP as a programme now I'm used to it, and it's free. I wasn't prepared for fork out for Adobe Photoshop, which is what I probably really ought to be using.

    1. "What I probably ought to be using" Ha! That's exactly how I feel about Adobe Illustrator or the Creative Suite! But to fork over that money, ick. I do use a free program now, Inkscape, which is pretty good. I might start checking into drawing tablets. I have an Android tablet, but I'm not thinking I can use that in conjunction with the other stuff.

      Technology: I know just enough to get fully immersed to find I'm just mired and stuck!