Design Deconstruction – Kimonos Ablaze
I feel like we all just had a Truth Tea party! The comments, feedback, criticism, and praise you left on the Kimonos Ablaze post was simply outstanding! There have been over seventy comments, and as much as I want to reach out to all of you individually, I decided to do a post addressing your feedback. I’m calling this a Design Deconstruction, which I hope will give you some insight into what my design process was like, and the goals I hoped to achieve.
The most resounding commentary I received was that there should have been a few blue and white, or orange triangles scattered into the navy negative space to create a better transition. Looking at the quilt, I can understand why some of you think that, but my intention was never to create an ombre effect. I wanted a strong, definitive line, with the navy serving as a breaking background. The orange triangles serve to imply flames licking at an oversized kimono that is only partially in the frame. This was picked up by commenter, Salamanda. Werk!
As some suggested, I do agree that a few orange triangles further into the navy could be like embers flying in the sky. Purely for the sake of simplicity (and time), I decided not to pursue that, and the additional piecing it would have required. However, it’s a great idea! Also, I originally thought the triangles would cascade in a curved slope–you can see that in my sketch–but eventually thought the jagged points on the edge would prevent that. I don’t want to start a “modern” quilts discussion, but I did have the Modern Quilt Guilds ideology about large uses of negative space on the brain as well.
I do agree with Sarah from mila+cuatro that the negative space got a little bit larger than I originally intended. It would have been more successful “if the bottom of the navy negative space started about a third of the way from the bottom corner of the quilt.” You’ll see in my sketch that’s sort of what I was going for. Then I realised I didn’t have enough kimono fabric to make that happen, while maintaining the size of quilt I needed. (The recipient is 6’6″ tall, so that was also a consideration).
So with my fabric limitations in mind, I had to resize and adjust on the fly. My design process is rarely set in stone from the beginning, and I just go for it, making changes here and there all the way until the end. You’ll notice in my sketches that the orange and red triangles aren’t the same on paper, they existed only in my head. I should also note that the navy negative space was originally slated to be a light grey (think Kona Ash), but I, A. didn’t have enough fabric, and B. didn’t think it offered the same sort of drama and masculinity.
Speaking of not enough fabric, that sort of happened on the back as well. I would normally position any stripe off-centre (rule of thirds), but I had barely enough yardage of that DS Quilt fabric to implement the design as is. I had originally intended not to include that triangle stripe on the back at all! Glad I did though, because so many of you enjoyed that element and said it spiced up the back.
I also want to address the timing and quick production of this quilt. I usually quilt on a production schedule, and have a rough map of when quilts will be finished. (e.g. I know I have three quilts in production with a self-imposed deadline of September). This quilt hit me out of the blue with that enchanting call of, “Make me now!” I knew if I started it, and then waited around for additional fabric, or pondered design decisions for too long, it would become relegated to the WIP pile, and it wouldn’t be finished until the end of the year. So I employed my motto, “Do what you can, with what you have, when you have it.”
That ideology manifested itself in the quilting process as well. I see most triangle quilts quilted along each and every seem line. I thought about that, and then said, “Nah!” I do like that look, but thought it would feel a bit static for this design. Straight-line, diagonal quilting provides more movement across that negative space. Could it look even more amazing with some dramatic FMQ? Most likely. I’m not there yet, and not quite sure I even want to venture there, but that’s a conversation for another day!
Finally, as for the binding, Scrapatches logically suggested a multi-coloured binding. That was one thing I addressed with Mr. Sparkles, and he thought the navy binding offered a much-needed, solid frame around the quilt. I was sort of ambivalent (having also barely overcoming the decision not to do a scalloped binding), so just went with it! My compromise to the idea of carrying some orange triangles into the navy negative space was by placing my glitter-flecked binding in that area. It’s a slight, fiery nod to that design rationale.
So there you have it, a whole lot of it actually! If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading (even skimming!) through my design deconstruction. If this is interesting or helpful for anyone, I’m happy to do it for other future quilts as well.