August 11, 2019

Editing a composition

I've been working steadily on Jeremy's wedding quilt, and have gotten to a point that I find myself thinking of as the editing phase.  The word "edit" is more often used for text, and I am very familiar with the text-editing process from decades of academic writing. It can be more tedious than the earlier stages of figuring out the main ideas of what one wants to say, the first formulation of those words into some kind of organized prose. But sticking with it, carefully re-considering each word, sentence, paragraph, is crucial to successful writing--writing that someone besides the author can readily understand and that will be convincing. And editing has its own pleasure--crafting and re-crafting the text so that it works to carry the message.

As of August 1, I'd gotten this far on the quilt. Although it's difficult to tell from the photo, the quilt will be 9 rows of blocks, of which I've completed 8--empty row in the middle. There are about 7 blocks in a row.  None of the blocks are sewn to each other yet, so I can still easily move them around.

I started working on the quilt from the top, but then changed to working from the bottom, to give me a bit of a break on the intensity of piecing in the little colored pieces. When I got to this point, with just one more row in the middle to make, I decided stop with new blocks and go back to the top rows, to some areas that I wasn't happy with, because each little bit of "confetti" in that middle row will be decided on in relationship to the bits above and below it. I've marked up the photo below on the left, to show the problematic areas. To get a better idea of what the whole top will look like, I laid some plain blue squares of fabric in the center row on the design wall, and just placed some bits of colored fabric on those squares; nothing in that row is pieced.  The photo on the right below shows the quilt a few days later, after I had ripped out the problematic sections and re-sewn. I'm happy with the changes, though now I see other areas to further edit before I go on to the last un-sewn row. You can click on the photo to enlarge it and see what I've typed in, but in case they're still not readable, I've written them below the photos. (Both photos taken in natural daylight, but different times of the day. The actual depth of blue is about half-way between these two photos.)


  • Top-most oval: Take out some colored shapes so they're not in a line
  • 4 ovals below that: Replace large blue sections with blue pieced sections (that is, replace one or two large pieces of blue with more like 4-8 pieces)
  • 5th row marked off with white lines: This row is still very rough--no sewing yet.
As I did this detailed editing, it occurred to me that technology has come to the aid of editing art compositions as it has to editing written text. Editing text with the assistance of a word processing program is so much easier than a typewriter! For my work in textiles, I don't use the computer very much, just occasionally some preliminary sketching and color work with Photoshop. But I use my digital camera all the time, especially for a piece as large as this one (about 60x90"). The piece is so large that I can't step far enough back in my studio to get a good view of it from a distance, to see how it's all working together. Taking photos--and having them immediately viewable because of the digital technology--is a big help. Another digital tool is to take a photo also in black and white, to check how the range/placement of value is working. Here's the quilt, same as above right, with a black/white version as well:


More editing to come, before I move on to that last row of piecing.


  1. Wow, such detailed work! Thanks for sharing your process.

  2. Reducing the composition to black and white is an excellent way to see the distribution of "confetti" without being distracted by color - great idea, Penny. I like the way this quilt has a similarity to the quilt you made referencing life going forward without Jeremy, yet is a new composition reflecting a different idea/a different part of your journey.

  3. I love it and I know Jeremy would be/is pleased as well. I am always amazed at the thought behind every action. I love reading your blog.