Design Tip: Cropping

I was asked to talk about my quiltlet process at Sunday’s Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and since I work a little larger and then crop down, I wanted to give a visual of how that can change a composition. Since my quiltlets are all 6×8″, I cut a cropping window out of a larger piece of cardboard. This way, I can isolate 6×8″ compositions and decide what I like best. I also have a smaller window template (for smaller compositions, obviously!). Sometimes I’m working with a finished composition already in mind, but using this template is really helpful when I’m working intuitively. It can help you discover compositions you didn’t even know were hiding within your design. These view finders can also be helpful when you’re inspired by a particular design out in the world and trying to isolate part of it to focus in on.

To demonstrate this process, I pieced an improv square.

improv pieced square, amyhoodarts.com

Before adding more surface interest, I took some pictures using the cropping windows. These are only a portion of the photos I took, as I wanted to remember all the possible ways I might want to enlarge this into a full-size quilt. I really love these colors together.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

This crop keeps the horizontal and verticals intact. But don’t just move the cropping window around; tilt it from side to side as well, to see possibilities on the diagonal.

cropping on the diagonal, amyhoodarts.com

cropping on the diagonal, amyhoodarts.com

I then added some surface interest in the form of circles and quilting, so the full piece looked like this.

circles and lines, amyhoodarts.com

Again, I took many more pictures than I’m sharing here.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

And again, some on the diagonal.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

I love zooming in on one part of a design like this–the results can be so interesting. Using this tool allows you to explore different focal points. What works best? What is most interesting? What draws you in the most? Often I do quite a bit of sewing that doesn’t make it into the final piece, but that sewing was necessary to get to the final composition. It’s like research in a novel; the reader might never read that backstory but it adds to the story nonetheless.