Another fact of life that I have come to embrace while traveling: I have learned how to slow down. At the beginning of the trip, I voraciously worked my way through tech editing and reading (all) the books I had brought with me for the summer. Now, nearly 5 months later, I savor the time to sit and think; to sit and watch the rain; to have long, meandering talks with my husband; to not hurry any particular process. Which is all a roundabout way of saying, I’ve had the idea to make this Stone Sheep mini quilt for quite a while (months?). Selecting the photo took an evening. Selecting the thread and fabric another day. And the process I share in this post, creating the sketch layout from which I will quilt, took most of another day. It’s been lovely to not feel the need to rush.
As a reminder, the above photo is the one I selected and received permission from my husband from which to work. After selecting the photo, the next thing I needed to do was consider the composition that I wanted to use for the mini quilt. I never envisioned making a full replica, so I tested out cropping various aspect ratios from the large image.
I cropped down to a very narrow portrait of the Stone sheep. I intend to add more negative space above and to the left side of the sheep, but there was no reason I needed to print out the background for my initial purposes, so I heavily cropped to just the area of interest of the sheep himself.
After cropping, I printed a grayscale reference image. I talk about using grayscale a lot with transparency design, and it is also a very good tool for this kind of layout work. The relative areas of contrast are more easily seen when the color is stripped away.
This will not be a very large mini quilt, and I am considering turning it into a pillow or perhaps even framing or stretching it as if a canvas for display when it is complete. Regardless, placing the newly printed grayscale image on top of the Kona Cotton White to get an idea of the additional negative space for the background helped me solidify my plan for the quilt proportions.
The next series of steps simply required that I take my time to carefully trim around areas of large detail of the Stone sheep, trace around the edges to transfer the detail to the fabric, and repeat. My OLFA 5” snips are the perfect tool for the fine work of trimming back the paper to get the fine detail.
From large detail down to small, the process just repeats itself: trim, align, sketch, repeat.
In some cases, I did not completely trim an area away but cut back a little bit, gently folded back the paper, and sketched.
After a full afternoon of cutting smaller and smaller successive pieces and sketching, the image above is what I created. As my husband noted, it looks strikingly like a paint by number outline. Or in this case, a quilt by number. Because of the density of quilting that I plan to employ to create the mini quilt, the pencil lines will be covered by the time the mini quilt is complete.
In the past I have used small pebble quilting extensively for wholecloth quilts, but for the Stone Sheep I am planning a looser thread sketching kind of approach. I’m still not entirely certain how to treat the background other than I know I will want to get the background stabilized before I do the final layer of thread sketching of the fur for the Stone Sheep so that he appears in front of the background. So perhaps I will use pebbling for the background. It would definitely be a good match for quilting density, which is one consideration that I try to keep in mind: having a very densely quilted Stone Sheep and a loosely quilted background would not keep the Stone Sheep looking like he is in the foreground of the composition.