Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Speedy Designs?

My friend Mary wrote this:
It still amazes me that you can knock out a design in such a short time.  Fusing quickly, I get, but to be fast on the design is incredible.
Here's my non-secret secret to speedy design.
Do whacha done before.

Way back when in the early 90's I made this 5x7" postcard quilt. You will note the leaves on the right side are skeletal? It was fun and kinda accidental design at the time, but it worked and I figured I could do it again only bigger.
I used the same basic accidental layout again for this larger 18x24" version, and thus began the idea of re-doing a previous design. Series work, it's called.
I had a sketch of these same fern shapes in my sketch book and so when I wanted a new quilt I just copied that sketch out, larger. This version is all silks. Yummy silks.

And then nearly the same quilt in cottons.

Detail of the ferns.

Later I made a really gigantic version, Crotons, 72x47" in cottons, hand dyed specifically for this quilt.

Here are those ferns again in Topiaries,
 ...and again in Sunflowers II

  and finally in Ferns and Tulips.
It's like reaching into your pantry and pulling out your favorite ingredients and making a new dish.

Every one of these is fused, and that does speed up the process, but design-wise, it is familiar territory.
But the one important thing in all this is that the ideas happened because the process was fast and easy and SMALL at first. With fusing you can bring your ideas to life and see what they look like without worrying about how to get them made. I can't imagine trying to work out an idea like this with hand applique or piecing. It had to be cut and paste.
And as I have said a zillion times, the design is paramount to the technique.


  1. The key is to have all those things in the pantry to start with. It looks like yours is full.

  2. Melody, you are SO funny - what a breath of fresh air this post was (as well as making me laugh out loud) for a rather isolated and slightly demoralised stitcher. I had been beating myself up for "doing" bluebell woods AGAIN thinking I had lost my creative mojo or something and you come along and I discover I am WORKING IN A SERIES. You have made my day. :)

  3. OMG! So many I haven't seen before and they're gorgeous! I think you could fill a whole coffee-table book! And I wish you would!!!!

  4. I love your leaves, and look at them over and over. They are so inspiring, especially to someone who loves nature and viewing it in different perspectives. I lived in Chattanooga for a couple of years (13 years ago) and plan on driving to check out the quilt shop in Ringold soon. Also, you had a post awhile back about a place in Cleveland TN I think, that has quilt exhibits. What was the name of that place again?

  5. What can I say.....beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing! Love it all. Brenda

  6. Mel you are so right! Fusing gives you the freedom to make the art without the restrictions of some the other methods of construction.

  7. Alright, already! You are about to bring me over to your fusing]side. And now I am beginning to understand the purpose of working in a series. I am such a slow learner. Now to start stocking the pantry. I agree with Susan. You really should do a coffee-table book.

  8. You need to write a book about it. You know there are many in my guild that barely do e-mail much less blog or internet search. Seeing the process is great - a series.

  9. KathyB12:09 PM

    Ooh La La!! These colors are beautiful. Your work is amazing! ...and you are right, it really is first about the design. Your design sense is wonderful. Thanks for inspiring me again. I'd love to share my work with you. I use the smallest of fabric scraps in my creations. See fiberart by Kathy Bourgeois at

  10. I think a fun little fuse along would be AWESOME!
    I really want to try this, I just need a little push.
    Please, Please, Please, pretty Please!

  11. Not just design do I see, but an incredible sense of color... I love your color combos!
    I gotta try some fusing!

  12. I love all the quilts but I am totally astounded by the 5x7 inch postcard quilt. That is a whole boat load of itty bitty fancy cutting to get all that on such a small space.

    I would think, at least for me, to start large and then try and get it down to the small.

    I am always amazed at the creativity of people who do inchies. As a designer who works in quarter inch scale you would think I could do small but, no. I need big piece of paper for freehand.

    Might I say if one can get that much into such a small piece doing large is kind of like a cake walk. IMO.

  13. I love your work! So colorful and fresh looking!

  14. Yes, you need to do a big, glossy, coffee-table (or sewing studio) book.

  15. This is a terrific post. I love the continuity between all these pieces, and your discussion of them. I also enjoyed the same when you talked about doing circles. Designs just seem to ooze out of your pores. Thanks for discussion this topic.

  16. Another informative and inspiring post. Thank you.

  17. Anonymous9:02 AM

    I love the cooking analogy--right down to the pantry. I think nothing about the fact that I start with the same soup base but never make it the same way twice in the end! Can you add some recipes to this book idea?

    Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Melody, I have enjoyed your blog--the information and quilts you
    share--for quite awhile....thank-you!
    Joni Beach

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  20. Maravillosos diseños y colores!!!
    Un gusto ver sus trabajos, felicitaciones.


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