The bicycle quilt

I mentioned in this post that I wasn’t entirely happy with how the bicycle quilt was developing but that I was going to see it through to the end.  Working in this black and white somewhat minimalistic style can be challenging and I learn more with each quilt I make.  The success (or failure) of each design relies heavily on the quality and placement of each line as does where I place the color and how much of it I use.  I took pictures throughout the process of making this quilt and I thought I would share them here on my blog along with my thought processes behind the changes I made.

After making my full sized cartoon of the quilt I made the base sandwich and then cottage door quiltquilted the background.  I spent several days adding the window, bicycle, and all the other elements.  The dragonfly wasn’t on my original sketch but I thought I needed a little something in the top right so I added it.

At this point my next step would be to stitch over all the black lines but when I hung it up and stepped back from it something wasn’t feeling right about it.   The window and the window box lines read nice a light but the bicycle lines were all wrong.  They were too heavy.  The two main element of the piece were not working harmoniously together to create one cohesive visual experience.  So I made a few changes…

cottage door quiltI redid the lines of the bicycle.  Instead of one solid line, I broke them up in to two lines.  That threw the bike handles out of balance so I opened the lines up for them as well.  I like the color placement of the bike seat so I decided to keep that as it was.

These changes were a step in the right direction but the bike was still not working for me and the dragonfly was too much of a focal point and I felt like it was a distraction.  There was too much color at the bottom of the design because of the fenders. The basket on the bicycle was too heavy and the tires felt like they were acting as visual anchors.  The bicycles overall design felt like it was missing something but I wasn’t sure what.

So I made a few more changes….

I took the dragonfly out and changed the basket.  Getting rid of the lattice work on the cottage door quiltbasket and changing the tires to open lines helped lighten the overall feel of the bike. I added tassels to the handle to fill a bit of the white space in that area and I made the bike pedal an outline instead of a solid black.  I swapped out one of the fenders and added the bike shelf and put the bag with the wine and bread in it.  Once that was all done I hung it up again and stepped back to take a look.

It was better but that pink fender wasn’t right.  There was too much color concentrated in that area.  So I swapped out the fender and added color in the bike pedal instead.  I also made the cork in the wine bottle brown instead of just having it as an outline.

Much better!   I had achieved the overall visual balance that I was looking for. There was just enough color and no lines were dominating more than than any others.

left: the starting point            right: the finished quilt

I think that this quilt is much more successful with the changes that I made.   It’s also a great example of how important it is to take the time to step back and evaluate your design and not be afraid to make changes.  I could have just finished the quilt as it was in that first step above but I wouldn’t have been as happy with the final result.  Is this my most successful quilt, will it win me any awards?  It isn’t and it won’t but I learned a lot from it and the experience I gained will carry over into my next quilt.

Here are two great resources for critiquing your own work:


Lyric Kinard’s pocket guide to critique

Jane Dunnewold’s critique checklist

2 thoughts on “The bicycle quilt

  1. Pingback: looking back, moving forward |

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