Saturday, 13 December 2014

Designing a map

So I've been working on a new quilt. I've been sketching and musing and pulling fabrics for months, but I made myself finish other projects before I started a new one. And then the tornado quilt popped into my head and I had to do it first. So I've just started my map quilt. It doesn't have a name yet and it's not a map of any particular place and I can't really remember where the original idea came from. The inspiration has come from lots of places - fantasy novels, history classes, old maps, travel, jewellery from Etsy, advice from other quilters and Canadian bobsleds (more on that another day).

I wanted to make a map quilt and had the feeling that it needed to be an island, though I don't have any ties to a particular island. So I started doodling random blobs on the page, then outlining them and making adjustments. I also thought it needed an archipelago, because every good island does. And apparently it also needed a face.

Once I had the shape, I added topographical features - mountains, lakes and rivers. I decided to pass on roads and civilization. When I had a shape I liked and had figured out how big it needed to be, I taped some paper to the wall and used a data projector to project an image of the map onto the wall. I traced the design onto paper, cut it out and traced it onto my fabric with a Frixion pen.

I used Steam-a-Seam to fuse the lakes onto the land and machine appliqued around them. Then I layered a piece of batting behind my fabric and embroidered the mountains and rivers by hand. That was a first! I kind of wish I had looked up embroidery stitches before I started my first mountain, because once I stitched one that way, I was committed! I was happy with how my rivers turned out though and the hand stitching didn't take as long as I thought it would.

Once my embroidery was done I had to figure out how to quilt it. Originally I was thinking contour lines, but with the amount of embroidery and the mountains, I decided it would look weird. After looking at other embroidered quilts for inspiration, I chose to just quilt a meandering pattern and work my way around the threads. I drew it out on my paper template with my Frixion pen for practice, thinking that if I didn't like it, I would iron the paper and try again.

In the end, with the matching variegated thread and the pattern on the fabric, the quilting blended right in, so the pattern didn't matter too much anyway.

My next step was to cut out the island to applique onto my quilt background. I outlined the island with pen so that when I ironed on the Steam-a-Seam my lines wouldn't disappear. I had tried different chalk pens, but they didn't show up well on the fabric. I fused the Steam-a-Seam to the back of the batting so that it covered the edges of the island, leaving the middle section bare. Here's the island cut out and ready to applique onto the water!

Next up I have to piece my compass rose (and learn paper piecing in the process) and make my legend.