Quilt texture, free-style stitching. Photo © Andrée Fredette

Quilt and Stitch… Some Ideas, Part 1

Before starting to texture a quilt, I usually go through what I call my doodling step, where I try out some ideas with a felt tip pen on some newsprint. I draw lines without lifting the felt tip pen from the paper, to imitate the “endless line” motion of a sewing machine stitching line…

Stitching pattern, free-style. Photo © Andrée Fredette

Sometimes, the bright ideas are elusive and I scrap a lot of paper… And sometimes, light bulbs go on and I save my pile of paper sketches. On a good day, I can come up with several usable textures and on a bad day, well, it’s a really dry run. Go figure.

Then – before tackling an actual quilt – I take my bright ideas to little “quilt sandwiches”, to practice and warm up.

Stitching pattern, free-style. Photo © Andrée Fredette

In the sample above, you can see the light green stitching lines, about an inch apart, that form “corridors”. I often use those as a first step, to establish a direction, especially when I am trying to evoke a stem, or to draw long lines across a piece.

After laying my road map, I come back (in this case, with a darker thread) and fill in with the patterns that I pick up in the greenery that surrounds me. I am really fascinated by the lines of foliage – both on shore and in the water – on the island. Grasses, plants, kelp, anything is a good source of inspiration.

And I have found that pattern repeats, especially when they are uneven, are very interesting. They move the eye around…

Stitching pattern, free-style. Photo © Andrée Fredette

Here is an example of a textured quilt study, using simple lines to enhance the pieced design.

Mark-making. Stitching pattern, free-style. Photo © Andrée Fredette

I am not interested in perfection, because perfectly spaced lines and stitches look too automated, machine-driven. I prefer the lyrical “élan”, the irregular repeats, much like wavelets washing ashore, no two exactly the same. I want my stitching or mark-making to look a bit more like someone applying pressure on a brush, while painting or drawing. Because I draw with a sewing machine…