I’ve spent the past three months collecting an obscene amount of men’s dress shirts for my quilts. I picked up half the shirts at the Goodwill outlet in nearby Queens. The other half were the result of losing self-control on recent vacations to Maine and Michigan. There was no reason I needed so many shirts (I can’t quilt that fast!), and both my carry on luggage and checked baggage hated me.
I approach a new quilt design from two angles, and depending upon where inspiration strikes, either approach comes first. One angle is the layout of the patchwork, which begins with a hand sketch and evolves into a digital mockup. The other angle is the color palette, where I cut small swatches of the shirts and arrange them in color palettes. This is where the complexity enters: one shirt only has so much yardage, so if I want a big patch of something like red, I have to collect many shades of reddish shirts and make sure they are a harmonious combination. And color is all relative, so when multiple colors are introduced, I have to make sure the figure-ground relationship is clear.
Today I cut swatches from my inventory of 100 shirts and laid them out to evaluate my
craziness collection. After arranging them all by hue, I re-arranged the swatches into mini palettes and photographed them to inspire my next quilt.