A local friend reached out to me at the beginning of October enquiring if I would consider making a quilt on commission. Although it is pretty rare that I take on commission work, she gave me free reign on the design (with just enough input to make sure the recipient will love it) and I am really excited to get started making the quilt in the next few weeks. I thought I’d share a little bit about the design process today.
This quilt is a gift for a newlywed who loves wildflowers. Her favorite colors are blue and yellow, and her bridal bouquet was full of small blues, blush and peach/apricot flowers.
One of the most prevalent wildflowers in our Central California town are lupin. So when I thought of wildflowers, I thought of lupin. I started with a very literal interpretation just to get some ideas started. I often do this: many of my initial design concepts start out with sketches that seem very far away from the final design, but they are important to get me working through the process. And I have found over the years that starting with a literal interpretation can get my mind thinking about what elements of the literal interpretation work and how to make the concept more abstract.
From there I created a design that has more of a floral bouquet feeling. When my husband peeked over my shoulder at the screen, he thought the design had a bit of an Egyptian flair, so we opted to name the design Sesen: “A lotus flower. This is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth.”
The design rolled seamlessly from the original lupin design to the purple Sesen design, but it did not take into account the recipients color preferences, so I next started working to refine the color palette.
I first went back to the original wildflower prompt. This time I thought of California poppies and tried to capture their feeling and colors. My first approach was to mix in green with the oranges.
The second iteration of the poppy inspired colors pulled in the peach tones mentioned as well.
Pivoting to think about the newlywed’s favorite colors, I started with a blue, yellow, and green option.
And finished with an all blue and yellow version. I was a little bit concerned about being able to find enough blue fabric (many Kona Cotton fabrics in blue have been in low quantities or completely sold out for months), so I worked to select colors that I could find available online.
Learning from earlier in the year, before sharing the design and options for consideration, I did break down the design to make sure I had a solid piecing plan for the quilt.
In the end, the final all blue and yellow option was selected. I was concerned about finding enough of the blue background (Kona Cotton Blueprint) but I actually had to work harder to find the dark yellow (Kona Canary) as the first location I placed an order with ran out before processing my order. But, fingers crossed, all the fabric for the quilt should be here this week, and I will also be making a text block of the center light blue to decide on the piecing method I want to use before cutting into the fabrics.
I’d love to know if you find that you have a common warmup process that you go through when doodling or designing.