A few months ago, I put together a little how-to worksheet on approaching landscape quilting. Most of it is based on my own personal process of developing and implementing an idea. A lot of it is my memories of what I wish I’d known when starting out. I still use it (or something more refined, yet similar) when I have an idea that needs more oomph or a glimmer of inspiration that requires more systematic thinking through. Thought I’d post it here, in case anyone else found it helpful. Parts one and two are previous posts.
Drawing is not a four-letter word:
Using a sheet of paper, sketch out a very rough outline of where things are going to go in your piece. This is like your map. It need not be good, it need not be pretty, but it should be informative to you. You need never show it to another living soul. This is your artistic view of the scene you will be doing. Include notes on perspective, colour, details to remember, etc.). Scribble notes everywhere, if it will help.
Laying the groundwork:
A wide array of techniques are available to the student for attaching fabric to the landscape, including, but not limited to fusible appliqué, machine appliqué, hand appliqué, raw-edge appliqué, and appliquilting. Which appeal to you? Which would be useful in your work and where?
1. Decide on your background carefully. Skies tend to set the mood for the rest of the piece. Oceans and ponds need to match skies to look believable (although they don’t have to be precisely the same, they do need to “look right” together). Trust your eye. Remeber that skies are usually lighter than water. Does the fabric selected necessitate a change in your plan?
2. Select other fabrics with reference to all the decisions that you made earlier about colour, perspective, etc.
3. Roughly lay the fabrics out together in a pseudo-design way– audition them! Pin them to a piece of cardboard or your design wall and step back from them. Do they look their parts?
Remember to think from far to near. Plan your piece from the furthest point away (the horizon, usually) and layer the fabrics moving progressively closer to you. Remember the section on colour and value – work from light to dark and cool to warm.
Plan each layer separately, beginning with your foundation layer of background fabric. Use the back of this worksheet to identify and plan each progressively closer layer. Plan fabric selection, techniques used and details achieved through quilting and embellishment.
Assembly: Get to it!
Assemble your bottom layer, the one furthest away in your picture. This may mean simply laying down a piece of fabric or sewing an ocean to a sky.
Cut out the next layer of shapes and so forth. Some people like to alternate between cutting out pattern pieces and assembling, completing each layer before moving forward. Some people prefer to have the whole pattern laid out first. Whatever the case, make sure you label your pattern pieces so that you know where they go! If you intend to use fusibles, fuse the stuff to your fabric before cutting out the final pieces. Trust me on this one.
When you reach the point of despair and decide that it’s not working, you have reached a turning point in your piece. Push through this stage. Almost every piece has this point.
Try to visualise how the stitching will enhance the look of the piece and what details can be embroidered or sewn after the top is assembled. It really helps to constantly be thinking ot the next step in a piece, as you can anticipate potential construction difficulties that might be created in an earlier stage and avoid them entirely!