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Sew Let’s Get Dressed – Designing Artful Jackets

It is time to settle on the design for my Tabula Rasa Jacket embellished with painted squares.  Last week I shared with you about the painting process and this week we will consider some design options.  The squares have been heat set and fused to the light fusible web so let the design work begin.


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Some sources I looked at for inspiration

I have been playing with two ideas in my head for these squares.  One is stacks of “blocks” that tumble when they get too high; the other is squares spiraling off a cord.  Where did these ideas come from, you might ask, and I wonder if they are from my subconscious.  They both seem like the tangible expressions of my cluttered mind.  I will also confess that I did not want to use “traditional” quilt pattern for these rather traditional quilt blocks.


Google images is where I started to try to flesh out these ideas.  Squares in Art, Tumbling Blocks, and Spiraling Squares were some of the images I searched with mixed results.  I also spent time looking at books in my library that might offer some direction.  Then I made some sketches.


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The blocks tumbling from a tower

To test my ideas, I cleared off my cutting table, spread out the blue silk, and started moving the squares around on the cloth.  I made sure I had several hours of uncluttered time to spend with this exercise.  After each arrangement, I took a photo before trying something new.  I also spread out the brown fabric to see the designs on a different background and added in some metallic cord to anchor the spirals.


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Spiraling blocks
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Two different colors with spiraling squares

The magic of digital photography is one of my design tools.  Later in the day I looked at the photos on the computer screen offering a different perspective and sent some to Carrie for her opinion.  In the end I settled on the spiraling squares.  That design choice meant ordering more cord from Mokuba in NYC and painting more small squares in the color groups I liked best on the fabric.   While this will slow me down a little, it will make for a wonderful jacket composition in the long run.


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Samples of appliqued fabric and quilted appliqued fabric

I used my least favorite square to make a quilting sample.  I wanted to see if I would like these materials finished into a quilted jacket. (I knew how it would look without quilting as I had made a sample jacket for Laura Murray using her painted stars and this very fabric.)  I really like the dimensionality that the quilting gives to the painted squares so I am planning to quilt this Tabula Rasa Jacket using Quilters Dream Poly batting.  The sheerness of the fabric required choosing a black batting, which is hard to find in natural materials.  This one is my favorite choice of black battings.


So the design work is done and all the materials collected.  I have cut the Tabula Rasa Jacket pieces out of the fabric and the batting.  As with all quilted jacket projects, I cut each piece 3/4” larger all around the pattern to accommodate the quilting.  When I finish embellishing and quilting each piece, I will use the pattern to clean cut each garment section before construction.  Our book Tips for Quilted Tabula Rasa Jackets is full of great quilted jacket ideas and sewing information.


I am not yet sure about the closure on the kimono band, but I have some ideas that I will be testing as the jacket gets closer to completion.

If you plan to attend the American Sewing Expo in Novi MI or the Fredericksburg VA Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, drop by our booth to see the finished product.


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