Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quilt Top Remix at the Chattanooga MQG meeting

The glue sticks, scissors, crayons, pastels, colored pencils and grid paper came out in full force yesterday as the members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild [ChattMQG] created design mock-ups for a Quilt Top Remix
Slicing and dicing color photocopies of a quilt top to create a new design.
Last year, I moderated the ChattMQG's annual brainstorming session to generate ideas for the 2017 meeting programs. One of the topics that came up several times was that members wanted more instruction or practice with designing modern quilts. What better way to learn, understand and put into practice design principles than to actually design a quilt? 

"One day, I want to be a real quilt!"
At one of the meetings of the guild steering committee, I suggested using an existing quilt top as a starting point for a quilt re-design exercise. My fellow committee members agreed this could be a fun and educational group exercise... and we'd use the resulting quilt to support our guild community service project—quilts for Habitat for Humanity Chattanooga.

This is the quilt top that I offered to sacrifice for the Quilt Top Remix design exercise. Fellow fabric reps and area quilt shops may recognize this fabric line—Mosaic Garden. It was a popular fabric collection from 3 or 4 years ago, and I believe it went into at least one reprint.

This quilt top was made as a sample to showcase the fabric line as well as a pattern—called Miller's Quilt—by the talented pattern designer, Julia LaBeuve, of JML Colors. Until now, this top was destined for quilt top limbo and would not likely be quilted and finished. So, this exercise was its opportunity for a new life—as a "real quilt."

Wanna try this exercise with your quilt guild or group? Here's what we did...
I put the top up on my design wall and took a photo. Photocopies were made from the photo and each guild member received two copies to cut/slice/fold/tear/color and somehow come up with a new design layout that would be re-pieced into a new quilt top at the next guild sew-in. Here is the meeting notice that went out to guild members.
Photocopies of the quilt top.
For reference, the original top: 40" x 60"    Blocks: 8" (finished)   Outside border: 4"
For our guild's community service project, we make quilts approximately 60" x 72"—a generous lap size.

Here are a few of the approaches members took with the design remix.
Coloring...
Coloring.
 collaborating...
Collaborating.
folding...
Folding.
 tracing...
Tracing.
 tearing...

Tearing.
and drawing.
Drawing guidelines.
Presenting the new designs
When the glueing and taping were complete, each member presented their design mock-up, with considerations for the background fabric and color and quilt top construction. Oh yes, designs can be fabulous, but the piecing and construction needs to be considered as well!
Martha (left) and Ann (right) present their mock-ups.
Denise (below) explained her clever approach that she calls the "magic number." It employs units that are multiples (or divisibles) of a base number.
Denise explains how she designs with her "magic number" approach.

The final mock-ups were just as innovative and diverse as the design approaches.
Zig-zags and fractures.
Improv cutting and piecing.
Pieced or appliqued?
Diagonal or straight sets.
Borderless or partial borders.
What color should the background be?
How did we decide? 
Well, everyone gave their "two cents worth!" (Actually, it was one cent). After the presentations, the design mock-ups were lined up and everyone placed a coin beside the design they thought was the best option for the new quilt top. Here is Vista's 8-penny Mosaic Garden re-design.
Vista's design received the most pennies (votes.)
As Pinocchio finally became a "real boy," so will this top find its way to becoming a "real quilt." Rather than preserve a quilt top "as is," it is far better to deconstruct, remix and reconstruct a top so it can be quilted, finished and enjoyed. Don't you think? I do! 

Guild members indicated they enjoyed the exercise and I think they were more fearless in their designs since personal emotions were not invested in the top that got deconstructed. (It's easier to cut up a top that you didn't make yourself.)

Thanks to the members of the Chatt MQG for contributing their time and talents to this Quilt Top Remix. We'll have another Habitat quilt coming to fruition in the future.

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