A couple of questions came up about what my process of designing my latest quilt top is. The title of this post pretty much sums it up how I work.  I tend to wing it quite a bit!

It started like this…

Just a few random blocks that I made with no idea about how they would all fit together.  I liked them arranged this way, so I stuck with it and figured it was time to start doing some planning.

My clearly amazing photoshop skills lead me to this:


From there, I made blocks based on this arrangement, just looking at the photo as I went along.  The most measuring that I did was to grab my ruler and put it up on my design wall to get a sense of the size that the block I was making should turn out. Admittedly, a couple of times I had to rip out a seam to add a bigger piece of fabric to a block that had turned out a bit small.   But I’d rather do that than spend tons of time measuring and cutting specific fabric sizes.  I much, much prefer to just eyeball the whole thing, while erring on the side of making each block too big.  It’s so much easier to trim down a block than have to add to it!  I also made sure that I overlapped the blocks, allowing for seam allowances, as I arranged them on the design wall.

I spent a lot of time stepping back and staring at the design wall (if you don’t have one yet, really, you need one! It will change quilting for you!) and deciding which colors to add to which block.  I make my decisions as I sew, block by block.  I love designing as I sew.  It makes the sewing feel less like the labor portion of a creative process.

This is it, now all sewn together. I made a couple of changes from the plan, but mostly stuck to it. It measures 56″ x 54″.  Since the goal is 80″ x 88″ I have plenty more to go…

Lantern Bloom Progress

From there a bit more planning was in order because the quilt does have to turn out a specific size after all…

Again, my astonishing photoshop skills where put to use. Then I printed out what I’d come up with and with a pencil and some markers (I’m so high tech!) I did some simple math and bit of color planning…

Planning1 Planning2

And now I’m just working away at making the rest of the blocks! Should be done in a few days…

Hope that you all have wonderful Mondays!

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  • Stacy

    October 12, 2009 at 9:37 am | Reply

    I’m just totally loving it!!

  • LIfe a Colorful Life

    October 12, 2009 at 10:23 am | Reply

    I love the way the purple makes everything else pop. Love this quilt. I need to loosen up and learn how to “wing up.” You can achieve obviously astonishing results!

  • Cate

    October 12, 2009 at 11:01 am | Reply

    Love seeing your process. Who needs hi-tech when lo-tech brings such beautiful results?

  • JaiCi

    October 12, 2009 at 11:05 am | Reply

    I love it! I actually still use a piece of graph paper and colored pencils when I do my designs! This also gives me an excuse to color every now and again 🙂
    I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  • leigh

    October 12, 2009 at 11:46 am | Reply

    wow – looks like it’s working out really well! i thought that photo with the black lines on your design wall was string. i guess you could always do it like that too.

  • Meg

    October 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    Mad skills, yo! Seriously, the more organic, the better I enjoy it. I cannot wait to see this finished–the colors are really just amazing! BTW–that long skinny red and green block in the top row? KILLS me with joy! 🙂

  • giselle

    October 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Reply

    I haven’t tried color planning on paper yet, but I think it’s a great idea. I love the deep reds and purples. See you tonight at the LA guild meeting!

  • Amy

    October 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your process – it’s very interesting.

  • Sandy

    October 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Reply

    Love your technique! Very very cool!

  • beth

    October 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Reply

    oooh! i love this quilt. great job!

  • debbie

    October 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    Wow! I want it!!

  • Audrie

    October 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Reply

    If your technique led you to make something this brilliant, I say don’t change it!!

  • mjb

    October 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Reply

    I hate measuring too! And the idea that I need to buy a million acrylic rulers to make quilts (I mostly use my metal meter stick). Thanks for showing this process. Once I’ve moved things around a couple times to fit I make a few extra blocks, but I might quit before I’ve made enough to make it a bigger, usable quilt. This method would save me from the “I’ll just add a border” temptation.

  • jen

    October 12, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Reply

    this is so gas!!

  • amy

    October 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Reply

    I thought I was the only one who hated measuring! I love your concept.

  • Cristin

    October 12, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your process! I don’t particularly enjoy the measuring/cutting all the fabric at once either. Well done, this quilt is amazing!

  • Zarina

    October 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Reply

    I love your method and may incorporate into my style. Currently, all my calculations gone to moot – the amount is also bigger than what is required (sometimes three times over) – so I only cut little by little.

    I too love working with pencil and color pencil. Just love the smell of the pencils.

  • Angie

    October 13, 2009 at 6:32 am | Reply

    I love all of your work! Everything is just beautiful.

  • Andrea

    October 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Reply

    I love the way you plan this out. I’ve always wondered how I could do some improvisation in a layout, and this is COOL!

    the blocks are uber cool too…love the colours.


  • Nancy

    October 13, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Reply

    Wow, this is awesome. I’m so glad I got to see your process. Create first and then figure out how it fits! And, it’s just beautiful!

  • Peg

    October 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Reply

    You work like I do (though I favor Illustrator myself) and it’s not pretty sometimes but it all ends up working out.

    I love this fabric line and you picked a great way to showcase those large prints. I can’t wait to see it finished.

  • Libby

    October 13, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Reply

    loving these colors :0)

  • Rebekah

    October 14, 2009 at 6:31 am | Reply

    Beautiful progress so far! Way to put Photoshop to good use!

  • Cheryl Arkison

    October 14, 2009 at 8:21 am | Reply

    Fantastic post! (And thanks for answering my question.)
    I’m a graph paper and coloured pencil girl myself. But I’m the same. I start with the sewing then back up and design quite often.

  • Allison

    October 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Reply

    Wow. This is awesome. I totally agree with everything you said. Design as you go – make big, cut down if need be. Have fun, experiment. Be joyful in the process.

  • Leonie

    October 14, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Reply

    It already looks wonderful but it is going to look AMAZING! Well done!

  • Kelsie

    October 15, 2009 at 6:40 am | Reply

    LOVE your method. I’m a total eyeballer. measuring, shmeasuring. When I went to quilt camp in 1996 (I think) they told us if you couldn’t tell it was crooked from a galloping horse, you were all good. <3

  • amandajean

    October 15, 2009 at 6:59 am | Reply

    that is going to be a very fun quilt! i always enjoy reading more about the process one goes through in making a quilt.

  • Gab

    October 15, 2009 at 11:05 am | Reply

    Oh Alissa…it’s so GORGEOUS!

  • becky

    October 18, 2009 at 9:24 am | Reply

    i love that process. wish i had a flat wall to do one on. i wing it way to much sometimes.

  • jacquie

    October 23, 2009 at 8:17 am | Reply

    that’s pretty much how i put my fall quilt together. a few missteps along the way, but it worked. i love the idea of improv being low tech. no EQ just little paper, a few measurements and make it happen! great work!!

  • Debbie Bell

    July 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Reply

    this is amazing to see I am a beginner and this is so helpful

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