Note from Mary: While I am busy doing the matches for the lastest Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap, I asked my friend Jill Scholtz to share a variation of a postage stamp quilt with you—her experience with doing “pixel quilts.” Jill is a talented and fast quilter with an awesome eye for color. I am sure you will find new inspiration in her quilts using small squares with carefully planned color placement. To follow Jill on Instagram find @slipperscholtz.
Another excellent example of quits using postage stamp size charms are watercolor quilts. Pat Maixner Magaret’s book Watercolor Quilts is a great guide to creating tis style of quilt.
Reading this reminds me of charting for cross stitching or knitting!
It’s All a Matter of Perspective
Guest post by Jill Scholtz
Have you ever been accused of “overthinking?” Many times we can get so mired in the details that we can’t see the forest for the trees. I have learned that many times when I am feeling stress or confusion, it helps immensely to take a step back and look at the big picture. I think this is why I love making quilts so much.
Postage stamp and pixel quilts are a great way to challenge one’s self because there are endless combinations with beautiful results! Even a random scrappy placement can have unintended beauty and rhythm. The art form of making images out of tiny scraps, or dots has been around for a long time.
“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.
As a kid, I remember learning about pointillism, and I have always been intrigued by this painting from 1884, which was hanging next to the principal’s office in my grade school. I think I looked at it every day that I walked into that building. Pixel art is definitely not a recent artistic concept. Evidently I wasn’t the only one intrigued by this painting: check out this YouTube video.
Whatever the source of intrigue, I have ventured into “pixelated” quilts ever since I saw a few at QuiltCon in Austin, TX in 2015. One of the quilters that I met there, Caro Sheridan, has a free class on www.craftsy.com on how to create a pixelated quilt pattern from a photo by using Excel. In her Craftsy workshop Caro does a great job explaining something that sounds complicated at first. Using Excel can make the process of pixelating so much easier.
My first pixelated quilt was created after watching the Craftsy class, and making a rendition of a flower I saw on vacation. I found myself making adjustments to the computer suggested rendering to fit my “stash” of fabric. As long as I matched the light/dark value of the fabric, the color didn’t matter as much. There is an artistic element to this process that helped me train my brain to step back and “look at the bigger picture.” It is all about perspective.
The next project I took on was a quilt for my husband, who loves basketball. For this quilt, I used an app on my phone called Pixelator (In iPhone app store as Frame Your Life with Pixelator.) It is a free app that will convert photos to pixel and you can adjust the resolution, or size of the pixels. (I happen to choose the size that allows me to still see what the image is if I squint. How very scientific!) Instead of using the Excel program, I just used plain old graph paper to make a pattern. “Eyeballing” the pixelated photo, I coded the boxes by color to fit my stash and to achieve the desired image.
Because sewing together tiny squares is not something I want to spend a lot of time on, I fused all of the rounded squares onto black fabric and then quilted over it all with an edge to edge design. This was not ideal, however, for withstanding many washings.
In search of improving on this process, I tried a new technique where I iron the squares edge to edge onto fusible interfacing and then sew the rows together. This worked with some satisfaction on a tiny postcard quilt of a cross. If you use featherweight interfacing, it does not get too bulky. It was time to try it on a bigger project.
Regardless of how you pattern your image; whether you use Excel, graph paper, the Pixelator app or any other method, the technique of ironing all those tiny squares onto lightweight fusible interfacing makes the process of sewing all those tiny squares together much EASIER AND FASTER! I am impatient to complete a project, so anything to make it go faster is a good thing.*
The most recent quilt I made involved 1,296 1.5” squares and I tried the fusible interfacing construction technique again. The placement of the squares is key for it is very important to keep everything lined up so your rows will be straight. (I could use some work in this area!) It is necessary to draw a grid either right on the interfacing, or on a poster board beneath the interfacing to help you with your alignment.
At first I sewed every other row on all the vertical lines. Being very careful to maintain a consistent seam allowance, I eventually completed sewing all of the vertical seams. Then I ironed them WELL to make the sewing of the horizontal seams as smooth as possible. You can see from the photo below that it is best to have all of the seams pressed in the same direction so as to limit bulk.
The end result may look random up close, but the farther away you get, the image appears. As you can see from the images below, I used many colors and some patterned fabrics for skin tone. The color does not matter as much as the value of light and dark in this type of placement. It’s all a matter of perspective!
I am still learning, and hopefully this post has inspired you to try some pixelated quilting with your 2016 PSQ Charm Swap set. Happy quilting!
*Note from Mary: Using fusible interfacing or pre-marked square style interfacing for pixel and watercolor quilts can be a blessing for these quilts that require careful color placement. However, do consider first if you are planning to hand quilt the finished item. The added thickness and the remnant of “glue” can make hand quilting more difficult. You may want to test this by making something small like a mug rug first. If you are doing a traditional “random” scrappy postage stamp quilt, I do not recommend using the fusing method. These quilts should never require “over-thinking” and I strongly recommend using the method in my PSQ block demo. Random comes from letting the pieces fall where they will.
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