Thursday, April 8, 2010

Optical Illusions Quilt

Are you ready? Do you have your scratch pad and pencils ready? How about your compass and your protractor? And your calculator? And if you work anything like me, your biggest eraser? Got your thinking cap?

This quilt is hand pieced and hand appliqued around 1910. This means this person cut out those million trapezoids probably with templates, and sewed them together. By hand. My brain comes up with this idea while hopped up on pain killers. It says "you know, this is just a simple checkerboard. All you have to do is strip piece some checkerboards rows, and rotary cut them at an angle and machine sew them together to make a circle. It's simple, you know like a bargello, only circular." Yep Quilt In a Day, watch out!

This quilt is 85 x 85, which is way too big for me. I want a wall quilt. I can imagine my family members asking me to put it away because it is making them dizzy! When I told my friends I was making it, one of them said "you have way too much time on your hands." I am hoping that with this quilt, at least one person will say, "wow, you made that?!" in a good way. If I can have just one person say that, it will all have been worth it. LOL Yep, I'm still loopy!

Here are some decisions we have made. There are originally 54 pie slices here. A circle has 360 degrees. 360 is not evenly divisible by 54, and my protractor can't measure fractions, we will pick a number smaller than 54 that is evenly divisible by 360. That's 45. 360 divided by 45 means that each arc is 8 degrees.

The rows look like they are proportionately increasing. I thought of starting with 1/4 and adding a 1/4 for every row but that makes way too big a quilt. Then I tried starting with 1/4 and adding 1/8. The size is more manageable, but still kinda big. Since there is no way I am doing anything less than 1/8, I decided to lop off a few rows. So instead of 20 there will be 17. I'm going to skip row 1 so there is a hole in the middle of the quilt for an appliqued circle. I don't want all the seams meeting in the center and causing a big hump. Unless I badly mess up on the tiny pieces at the top, in which case the applique circle will be bigger!

I don't know how they did the ring around that center circle. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Right now the plan is to find someone to just draw in those scallops.

My math teacher, Steve, drew a pie slice at 8 degrees, with a few of the rows in the sizes I mentioned, so I can use that as a template. I will tape it on my ruler to make sure I am slicing the rows at the right angle. It looks like the rows and columns aren't proportional. So the width is long and narrow and gets shorter as time goes on. He recommended that I duplicate the size of the rows at least at the outside rows. This will also help make the quilt smaller. He gave me some formulas that I could try so that the trapezoids in last row is reasonably proportional length and width-wise.

I'm not sure what is giving this optical illusion effect, so I want to try to keep it as much to the original as possible.

What do you think? Do you think that the optical illusion will still work if the rows are the same size from time to time? Like maybe two rows are the same size, and then we increase the next two rows. If I can make them the same size, I might be able to add the last three rows back in. If I cover up the last three rows with my fingers, I can still see the optical illusion. Do you think I need the last three rows to show that it is a checkerboard? Or give the eye a little space to rest, although is a small border for that as well.

We are working with finished sizes, and I know I need to remember to add in the seam allowance once we are done with all this planning. I think I can just add a quarter inch to each side of the pie he drew and cut that angle from the strip sets I create.

I also need to figure out how much fabric to get. I did figure out that since the rows are increasing, I can only make the triangle shapes one way. You know how when you cut equilateral triangles, you turn the ruler and cut the other triangle using the cut edge of the first triangle? I can't do the opposite triangle the other way to save fabric. This means I will have enough triangles to make two quilts. We'll have to see if I am loopy enough to make two quilts when that time comes!

The people at work have recommended I choose purple for a color. I like purple, so I will look for a pretty solid(ish) purple.

Is there anything else I need to think about?


julieQ said...

I have a book with this quilt in it...there were two quilts made by the same maker, identical, right? I love your idea! I will be watching for your progress.

Allie said...

You are making my head hurt, lol. Do you know anyone with EQ? I wonder if it would be possible to do this in that program.
I opened the picture in a new window and made it big. In looking at the center, it doesn't really look like scallops, it looks like rectangles - bigger on the outside. Is that a trapezoid? I don't know if you'd get the same effect by making a couple rows the same size or not.

This will be fabulous if you can pull it off - and I'm confident you can! I think you could easily sell the pattern!

Kathie said...

this quilt has been reproduced a few years ago
let me think about ti and hopefully I will remember
I think the lady was from california.
isn't it amazing!

Barb said...

that's all I can say today.
and good luck -

Tanya said...

It is a beautiful quilt but yes, you are going to be working on it for years! You and your love for circles thought makes a perfect quilt for you. I hope you get it all worked out.

Key Elements said...

I made this block = you use a 9 degree ruler. I used the block in an original design quilt about the solar system and I won 1st place at the Orange County (Calif) Fair.
Here is my blog post about it:
It is a fun block to make and everyone thinks it is amazing with all the little pieces.
Thanks for sharing