Occupied with Octopi, part two

Or perhaps I should have said, Preoccupied with Octopi. This is the second of two blog posts about making a big quilt featuring PaMdora and an octopus. The first one is Occupied by Octopi, part one.

Part Two

While I’m working on a drawing of my idea, I am also going through my collection of fabric developing a palette. Sometimes I just throw fabrics on the floor, but eventually I may pin wads of fabric to the design wall. In this case, I want the octopus to glow from a dark background. If the abstract pattern and palette looks good, I feel I have a good backbone on which to build the final piece.

The way I work on the design wall is similar to how I work on the computer. I pin all my reference sources around the edges of my work space.

This is the pattern that I’ve printed from my drawing. I used to tile dozens of 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper and tape them together to make patterns. Now we haveĀ  a large format printer, but this design still took two tiles. Since big patterns tend to slip off my cutting table, I like to use old irons to hold them in place.

The octopus needs a lot of fabric, so I have to careful I’m not going to run out. It took a lot of fiddling with the patternsĀ  to get it all to fit. You can see I’m playing around with colors for water in the background.

Just trying to make sure that I’ve got all eight tentacles covered! I did write one blog post about cutting this monster. It took me three days.

Like working a painting, I’m trying to keep the entire surface in mind. Each color choice affects every other part, so I’m just pinning things together and nothing is permanent. As I cut and pin, I also am constantly thinking about how I’m going to sew this monster together. Because of the many layers, it’s going to be technically difficult to quilt.

Starting to add the digital toys. Even though they are small, I want them to pop out to the viewer, so I’m using bright bits of turquoise. I’m also improvising waves at the top and sea grass at the bottom, and added that blue polka dot rock bed at the bottom to give myself a little more space to work.

Because I got in a hurry to finish this quilt, I didn’t take any photo of sewing the details. I usually sew the faces and small details on a Bernina sewing machine because I like the control it gives me. You can see me sewing another big quilt on my Bernina here.

After getting the octopus, PaMdora, and the digital toys sewn, I moved to a frame to finish the background with my Viking sewing machine.

This was one of the hardest pieces I’ve ever quilted. Because of the many layers and intertwining parts, I had to really concentrate and plan my method of attack to keep it flat. It may have turned out a little too flat — I would have liked a little more texture in the background, but we learn something from every project we do!

Looking back on the project, I realize it was challenging, but also lot of fun. I like making things like computers, old TVs and remote controls out of crazy patterned fabrics.

I barely finished this quilt in time to take photos and submit it to Quilt National. At the time I called it “Dancing with an Octopus” because I was in a hurry and needed a title. Since QN is strict about pre-exhibition photos on the internet, I never put any of this on my blog or website. By the time I found out this quilt wasn’t accepted, I had moved on to other projects.

The other day I realized I still haven’t put the final image on my website. Maybe one reason is I never really felt that title was right. Over the years, there have been so many great comments posted on PaMdora’s Box, and I get ideas and inspiration from all the input. So maybe you can help me out again. And thanks, all you readers who have stuck with me all these years — I really appreciate it!

Here’s the first post about this project: Occupied with Octopi, part one






19 thoughts on “Occupied with Octopi, part two”

  1. Pam- I love this quilt. Would you mind telling me the program you used for tiling your designs? I have a mac, and can not find any programs that will take my design and blow them up. I do have photoshop elements, but don’t know how to tile. My second question is I was told not to buy a large format printer because I would not use it daily/weekly, the inks will dry up and never be the same again. How often do you have to use yours and still have it work okay? Thanks for the advice. judy

    1. Hi Judy, thanks for the comments. I mostly use CorelDraw to draw my designs, although I scan my sketchbooks in Photoshop and then import them into Corel Draw to trace them.

      Corel is a vector program, which means it’s mostly line art. Which means that it’s easy to enlarge a drawing and not lose clarity. Photoshop Elements is a bitmap program which means that when you enlarge an image, it get chunky, pixelized or just plain blurry. That’s probably why it doesn’t tile-print images (I’m just guessing here because I don’t have Elements, only Photoshop).

      Adobe Illustrator would be another vector program, and there may be others out there you could use to tile an image.

      As for large format printers, it’s true if you don’t use them often they can dry up. My husband who is a tech genius maintains the printer — I could never do it myself. One time it all seized up and he kind gave it emergency surgery. It was scarey how torn up he had it, and yet he got it back together. So unless you have great tech support, maybe you could get someone else like a print shop to print your large drawings. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it myself!

      Good luck with your projects, and hang in there. I’m sure you will find a way to do what you want. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

  2. I LOVE this quilt and it’s one of my favorites. I’m sorry it didn’t make it
    into QN. I like the “Tango with Technopus” name. Your quilt has a lot of life struggle dynamic and humorous tension with all the techno gadgets.

    1. Thanks Sandy, it’s good to have confirmation on the new title. Maybe it will help — I entered it with the new title into the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Fingers crossed!!

  3. LOVE it! I too would love to see one of your pieces in real life! I really like your swim suit fabric.

  4. Instead of spelling it “technology,” how about “technologi”? Or am I being too cutesy here?

    This image really sums up that feeling of being underwater and overwhelmed by all the new technologies (ooops; technologi) that seem to come at you from every angle – but you make it seem fun!

    1. Hi Karen, Thanks for the comments, I so glad you get the impression I was trying to create! I’m thinking about calling it Tango with a Technopus, it’s kind of a combination of lots of different ideas I’ve received.

  5. Love your work, how do you do the black outline on all of the pieces. I have been fascinated by each piece of work and would love to see the “real” thing, any chance of you visiting Western Australia in the future?

    1. Hi Helena, it’s layered fabric, black under the prints. I was in Australia once about 10 years ago, east side. Beautiful, amazing country – I hope to get there again someday!

  6. Fascinating watching your process…this seems more in depth than some of your other step-by-steps…and I love it!!
    How large is the finished piece and how large does your large format printer make your patterns?

    again…PamDora does not disappoint!

    1. Hi Kerry – The quilt is 55″ x 70″ and our printer can print sheets 42″ wide and any length. So it took two sections taped together.

      Thanks for your comments and glad you liked the blog posts!

  7. Silly (being nice, as that is not the word I wanted to use) QN for not accepting this! I really love your process pictures. I love the photo of your pieces pinned to the background. Fabulous!

  8. Names are HARDEST. Unless I have one before I start the project. Rarely. This is a great quilt and knowing your sense of humor, I know you’ll come up with a great title.
    Hugs. Em

    1. Hi again Jae, I just realized you’re from a Springfield also! Great work on your website, the colors are warming me up on this rainy Monday.

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