Today’s featured quilt is a wonderful example of composing on a smaller, more detailed level. Take a look at “Busytown.”
Tell us about this quilt.
I was inspired by the now famous quilt by Ingrid Press. I loved the playfulness of her design, how each house was different and slightly wonky. My son’s fourth birthday was coming up, and I decided to make a similar quilt for him that included his favorite things – construction vehicles. The quilt eventually came to include houses, trees, and cars, as well as backhoes and other heavy equipment.
Because I wanted to emulate the whimsy of the inspiration quilt, I decided to make the blocks improvisational. This method dictated the composition of each vehicle. Rather than creating a pattern or predetermining the sizes of each piece of fabric, I broke each vehicle down into its most basic shapes. For example, the semi truck is just a long rectangle for the trailer and a rectangle and a square for the cab. I pieced two fabrics, and then trimmed them to the shape I desired before joining and trimming again, repeating until I created the larger shape I had in mind.
A large part of the composition of this quilt, and many of my quilts, is the negative space. The charm, to me, in this quilt is in the size of the vehicles and houses relative to the overall quilt. The large amount of negative space allows your eye to focus on each little vehicle or house without the many colors and shapes becoming overwhelming or garish. I also chose to use solid fabrics to keep the emphasis on the shapes, rather than on the design of printed fabric.
What do you consider when composing a quilt?
It seems a large part of the composition I do is intuitive. I tend to see the finished quilt in my mind’s eye and then decide how best to make it a reality. I think about scale and value as I choose fabrics. There are decisions, obviously, that I make when I put the quilt components together, as well. I try to find pleasing arrangements of colors, and balance of shapes and negative space. The feeling I want the quilt to have is also something I think about. It often, as with the Busytown quilt, determines the method I choose to piece the quilt.
Tell us your quilty history.
I’ve been quilting since I was a teenager, when a dear friend taught me, but in the last two or three years it’s become a real passion of mine. I have been inspired by and involved in the modern quilting movement both online and with my local guild, the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. I’ve found this community to be incredibly supportive, and I’m constantly amazed by the brilliance of so many quilters and the quilts they produce!
If you’d like to see more of Alex’s work and get to know her better, check out her blog, Teaginny Designs.