Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tools & Gadgets: Design Wall

On the Block Lotto, the topic for our October linky party is Tools and Gadgets.

I had thought to blog about all of the specialty rulers/templates I've collected and never used ... and USE one of them to make a small project.

Then, a couple days ago, I started making a set of scrappy red and white sampler blocks from this year's set of Block Lotto blocks.  I started wondering how long it had been since I put a new blade in my rotary cutter.  I couldn't remember, but after I put a new blade in, it was clear it had been far too long.  It was such a treat.  Like taking the time to clean and oil my old Singer 301, remembering to change the needle in the machine, taking my trusty Dovo scissors to be sharpened, and those other maintenance tasks, they make using our tools of the trade a joy.  So I thought I'd blog about that.

Simple Sampler IdeaBut then, as I was making, arranging and rearranging my sampler blocks, I found myself using (and appreciating) one of my most essential tools for quilting: my design wall.

I started the idea with an idea for making a simple sampler quilt from this year's 6-by-9-inch lotto blocks, with lots of white space for free motion quilting.  To get an idea of proportions (and share my idea with the block lotto community without sharing the blocks we'd be making), I created this layout.

But, somehow, seeing the blocks, life size and in-person on my design wall, the blocks seem to be placed too far apart.

Design walls, whether permanently attached to the wall or, like this one, a flannel-backed tablecloth temporarily tacked to the wall, are essential for my process.

Design Wall as a Tool

(The November and December blocks aren't shown, but will be part of the quilt).

I use a design wall to create a quilt design organically, arrange (and re-arrange) a scrappy set of blocks until the colors and values feel just right, or, like now, tweak the proportions and play with the negative space to suit my design esthetic. If I'm not sure, leaving something on the wall over night (or for a few days while I work on something else) is always a good idea. I often walk into the studio first thing in the morning, look at the project on the wall and know what it needs ... or that it's good and needs no more.

I'm joining the linky parties on the Block Lotto and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.


Terri said...

My newest love (tool) is the lighted, magnified seam ripper! It's the bees knees!

Sabrina said...

I really like the idea of using all the unused tools in one project. By the way, I am loving your red and white quilt! Are the block patterns free?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the value of letting an arrangement sit a bit on the design wall. Mine is in my living room (small apartment) so whenever I glance up, I see what is on it. I do a lot of tweaking from those glances.

Unknown said...

I so need to use a design wall of some sort. I usually wing it. Nice to see you are from Santa Fe - I'm in Albuquerque.
Great quilt.

Anonymous said...

Mine is a piece of leftover batting tacked to the bedroom wall. LOL The tablecloth would be a much more elegant resource.

Laurina said...

I always wondered what the big deal was about a design wall - surely the bed or floor worked fine. That was before I put one up and now I can't believe I ever made a quilt without one.

Christine Thresh said...

It is amazing when you change a rotary cutter blade. Why didn't I do this sooner?

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