Archive for May, 2009

Where accounting meets art!

Friday, May 29th, 2009

How to count mistakes

Chris Alexander’s four-volume essay on the Nature of Order has a remarkably simple starting point on page 186 of book two.  to paraphrase: “… every element in the construction of an object represents a decision…which has the possibility of being wrong.  …The vast superiority of generated plans [is that] they avoid mistakes.  A fabricated plan cannot avoid mistakes, and in all fabricated plans, the overwhelming majority of possible mistakes are actually committed.”

indigodetailThis insight provides guidelines for quilting, not only in terms of avoiding unnecessary precision, but for the basic process of constructing the quilt.

I have given a great deal of thought to the process of constructing the Indigo quilt.  Starting with the fabric collection, I have searched for ‘structure-preserving transformations’ that give the best combination of elements within the quilt–fabric pattern, color, lines, local symmetries.  I am satisfied with the piecing steps.

The quilting often feels like a separate process.  The challenge now is to perceive the quilting as a natural unfolding of the creation of a quilt.  Instead of thinking of the finished product, I am focusing on the way that the process can help me to discover the correct decisions.

Looking at the whole, I have these rules of thumb and a pencil to develop the plan for the quilting:     1)  always quilt in the ditch,  2)  add contrast to the quilt –use curves if it is geometric, and geometrics if it is curved, for example,  3)  recognize the quilting as a way to add levels of scale, 3) review the machine quilt patterns that I have used to see what might work.

The basting gives a simple clue.  Making the ‘sandwich’ is often minimized by quilters as a timeconsuming nuisance.  But this is one of the things that defines the very nature of quiltness.  I have decided to handquilt the structural quilting, so often dismissed as ‘in the ditch’ stitching, although it is generally acknowledged as a necessary step.  The reasons to handquilt on a quilt that will actually be primarily machine-finished  are  1) to keep the structural quilting soft, and 2) to spend time actually handling the quilt so that contact time will generate the correct decision of what type of pattern to use in each section.