Saturday, January 26, 2013

What Have I been Working On?

A couple of months ago I shared that I was having trouble starting a project.  Honestly, it was a portrait that I wanted to do of my favorite subject and I so badly wanted it to come out just the way I envisioned it. Many times I start a quilt and I have a vision, but for some reason or another, whether it is technical or artistic, it morphs into something else by the time I am done.  Usually that's OK and I end up with something that I am happy with. But this time I wanted it to be my original plan.

 I got advice from many of you that I so appreciated. Some of the advice was about coming up with an idea. Some of it was about overcoming the fear.  I have made a file and saved all of it for the future.  The advice that I did heed was to put one foot in front of the other and just take little steps.  It wasn't easy and I had many anxious moments.  But I have started.

My inspiration for my portrait came from 2 places.  The first is the art of Chuck Close.
He paints large scale portraits based on a grid.  Up close, each block is unique and kind of geometric, but when put together as a whole and seen from a distance a face appears.  This one is a self-portrait.

Then while surfing around the web a couple of months ago I came across a self-portrait in fabric done by  Sandra Bruce.  I read about it in this blog post at 13 Woodhouse Rd.  I have asked permission to use the photo of Sandy's quilt and have received her permission.  You can read more about Sandra on her website  or visit her Facebook page:Sandra Bruce Creative

So are you wondering who my favorite subject is?
 I bet if you have been reading my blog for a while, you already know the answer.
If you don't know who this is, it's my wonderful, loyal and adorable dog.
She's a cockapoo and we are joined at the hip- so to speak.  She is always at my side, whether I am sewing or doing my 5 mile walk every morning.

I printed her photo in color on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.

and then placed a gridded sheet of template plastic on top of it and stapled it in place. 
 This was my map.I used the plastic to loosely delineate areas and keep track of where I am.

I chose a wall in my family room where I wanted the finished quilt to hang. (I'm such an optimist!) This helped me with the dimensions, which led to the size of each of the squares and the number of squares.  I also had to take into consideration that to get the best appreciation of a quilt like this, you have to be far enough back to see it as a portrait.

So these parameters led me to the decision to do a 2" cut size square and a grid of 36 x 36 squares.  That meant a total of 1096 of those 2" squares and a finished size of 54"x54". And I wanted a lot of variety. Blue was my choice for the background, like the sky.  This was a no brainer for me.  I have lots and lots of sky blue type fabric.  I didn't think I would need to buy any.

The color of her fur presented some challenges.  It is very light and to get a variety, I did have to go shopping.  What a sacrifice!!

For this project, I definitely needed my design wall.  I cleared it off and began.  Where did I begin?  I began at the top.  I thought this would be the simplest and I was very concerned about her eyes and her muzzle.  It would be critical to get those right.

Can you see the yellow squares on the left?  I used Post It notes to help me keep track of the rows. Her hair wisps were time consuming but gave added whimsy.  I pieced them and intentionally did not want them to be line up exactly and be perfect. I like them a lot.


  1. Oh my goodness, I can't WAIT to see more!!

  2. uhhh can't wait to see the rest, looks NEAT!

  3. Wow! That's quite the project! Can't wait to see more!

  4. You are off to a great start! I love the variety of fabrics and her hair wisps. You are so brave and always pushing boundries. I hope it turns out just the way you want it to and I can't wait to see it!

  5. That is going to be a fun piece, I like the idea of using a pet for this style.
    I have a filter on photoshop that can do grids, makes it easier;)


  6. Fabulous. I started a portrait of my dad a few years back and it so intimidated me, that I never finished. I'm anxious to see your progress after an awesome start. I was taking a class at Quilt U to make mine, but will look at the blogs you've cited. Wonderful work.

  7. Fantastic and inspiring! Now I want to make one!
    Of course, I need a dog.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Cheryl - Thanks for sharing and explaining Bailey's picture - I know that is time consuming, but oh SO WORTH it...she is such a cutie - This just might inspire me to do Noel's picture sometime..

  9. Oh yes - I knew right away who your subject was!! You're very brave to forge ahead and jump in to such a project, but it's turning out FANTASTIC! I think you are spot on and it will be a terrific likeness of her sweetness! The wisps are just right! Maybe I'll send you a pic of MY Bailey for you to do next!! :)

  10. WOW! This is going to be incredible!! As the others have said above, now I want to make one
    of my sweet girl! Can't wait to see this finished!


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