My design process

I wanted to share part of my design process with you today.  I am working on designing a Sandhill Crane wall hanging for our upcoming Sandhill Crane Festival in Othello.  This is annually the largest tourist event in Othello and greatly impacts my work.  Check out the festival here.

During Row by Row 2017 I made and won with a quilt that is called “Flamingos!”  One of these designs really inspired me and started me thinking about a Sandhill Crane in the same form.  Here is a close up of that flamingo.  It is from Daydreams Quilt n Sew in Idaho Falls, ID and was VERY popular in Row by Row!IMG_2654 (2)

Yes, LOTS of little squares, but there is a twist – a cheater way of assembling: interfacing!  Iron on these little squares and then sew multiple rows at once, then columns – or the opposite.  Anyway, sew many at a time and makes it so much faster.



























I started by drawing in my quilting notebook.  Then turned that into a gridded version of my crane. I cut many squares in assorted grays.IMG_3835Starting at the top of the gridded interfacing I made the head and neck.  After laying down a few rows I would then iron the fabric in place, just quickly so they would stay.  I could peel them off if one was misplaced or looked wrong.  My little Sunbeam iron was the perfect size for 2 rows at a time.  I was super careful to not touch the interfacing with my iron – that would gum it up and ruin it.

My ironing station is only so big so I would need to roll the bird up to work on different sections.  I focused on the bird before I filled in the background with sky.  It was starting to take shape that I was happy with.  The beak would need to come later so I just left that part empty.

I would alternate from looking at it on my ironing table and up on the design wall.  I needed to see it in different perspectives to make sure it was coming together correctly.

After I had all the body attached I added sky almost everywhere and just quickly fused on some legs.  I then took it to my design department for final approval.  (That is the hubs to have an outside perspective.)  I do not have photos of this but he pointed out that I had a “goose” body and not a “Crane” body.  Geese are very pudgy and cranes are sleek he said.  Not what I wanted to hear!

Funny that an SOB (Spouse Of Birder) could see that and I couldn’t.

He found crane silhouettes online and showed me what he was trying to say.  He was right, my crane needed a diet!


My remake of a SLEEKER crane body.  I just pulled off the squares and reworked it.  You can see the frayed edges of the removed squares.  Much happier with it – so far.


Next came the beak to figure out.  I measured the size it needed to be and cut a single yellow piece of fabric for it.  I cut a blue and then cut triangles it to be the sky.  I added lines to help me know where to sew, this was version #2.  I tried many ways and times to attach the sky & was just not happy.  See the sewing holes?  I did lots of seam ripping.IMG_3865

Just nothing really worked out.  There was yellow showing when it should have been blue, not centered or even something else.  Reworked it a few times.  Here are some of the failures.

I finally got the blue in the correct places and the yellow in the center.  Yea!  Progress.IMG_3870

I then sewed it in strips and columns like the rest of the project will be.  I needed to really test it out.  I just placed in on the non-sewn body to have an idea of it.IMG_3874

It will need to be reworked – again.  Crane beaks are long & I want it to be to almost the edge of the piece.

I have learned that quilt design is like writing an essay or any other thing.  It needs to be worked & reworked.  The first time is not perfect and needs to be looked at in different ways.  It is not always about the final project – it is about the journey to get there.  Enjoy the ride.



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