Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Playing with Scale

As you may recall, when my bundle of Alison Glass Indigo Handcrafted fabrics arrived, it spoke to me. It demanded to be used as the ocean in a quilt and it suggested that a seahorse might be a good idea for the foreground.

The design was always going to be large scale. I guess that the initial reason for this was that I wanted to make good use of the fabric bundle, but there was more than that. I didn't want the designs on the indigo fabrics to swamp the seahorse.

I wanted the different shades of blue to represent the many shades that can be seen when light glints in the water.
I wanted the small round and cross designs on the fabric to be like particles floating in the water.
I wanted to flying geese to mimic fishes.
I wanted the straight lines to appear like seaweed.

A large scale seahorse just seemed to fit with this idea.

The question was how big could I make the design and still work with a fat quarter bundle of fabrics. I took a punt and decided to make the quilt 50" x 50". A small amount of fudging was required to make it work, but I am glad to say that I didn't need to buy any extra fabric.

When the quilt was finished I had a small pile of scraps left. Considering how much I loved the fabric, it seemed a shame to waste to them.

I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and see if I could get another block out of the fabrics. I had a small amount of oakshott cotton in rich blue colours which could come to the rescue if required (they weren't!).

My plan was to experiment and have fun so I chose to sew another seahorse, but a 14 inch one. I thought it would be a fun to see how the scale of the fabrics affected the finished result.

I'll admit that I wasn't sure how well it would turn out. I was a bit worried that the seahorse would be swamped by the designs on the indigo fabrics, but it turned out better than expected.

Honestly, I think that the large scale block works better with these fabrics, but the small one works a lot better than I expected, and that's the point! To me, its important never to stop experimenting and never to stop pushing the boundaries. Don't play it safe- go against your instincts sometimes and see what happens.

Each time that I make rules about fabric selection, I end up changing my mind in the future. When I first started paper piecing, I couldn't imagine using prints as I thought they would interfere with the designs. Then I learnt to use blender fabrics and now I throw all sorts of crazy fabrics in there. I guess that this is the reason that I am reluctant to build up too a huge fabric stash. Yes it's convenient to be able to pull any fabric that I want at a moment's notice, but tastes change and what I like now is not what I liked a year ago.

When it comes to fabric and colour selection, I tend to trust my gut. I generally have a rough plan, but it is never ever cut in stone and there is always a lot of wiggle room. It's definitely fair to say that I make it up as I go along.

That said, ignoring my gut can be important at times. It can lead to inspiration or it can lead to mistakes and if nothing else, I invariably learn from those mistakes.

I'll continue to use my scraps and to play and to have fun with it. Who knows what will come next!

I'm linking up with Leanne and Nicky at Scraptastic Tuesday

And also with Afton at Quilting Mod
Quilting Mod


  1. I agree, the scale of the fabric lent an interesting element in the two different sizes. I, like you, am surprised that the smaller one worked so beautifully. Great jobs, I love them both!

  2. Love them both as they are both awesome! I think you just love playing and making rules so you can break them - a true artist I guess! Thanks for linking up to #scraptastictuesday!

  3. The seahorse pattern is just amazing! Yes, the fabrics are lovely, but I think it's really fabulous because of the pattern. Well done! One day I plan to give it a try.

  4. Love your seahorse, Juliet - and it sounds like you had great fun playing with fabrics!!

  5. Love your work so much. Great fabric and color choices, fantastic patterns Your seahorse is awesome too!! I must try big patterns too!

  6. The large scale is wonderful- and yes, these are just the right fabrics for it!

  7. Excellent experimentation! Please come share your ideas at Lessons Learned:

  8. Mission accomplished in every way.

  9. I really love the large scale seahorse. I have purchased your pattern and ordered the blue fabric :). I wondered if you could share whose fabrics the yellows are from. I love the intensity of the colors and would like to recreate it as close to the original as possible. Thank you so much.


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