Off my design wall – a project start to finish and a tutorial – 2014.11.08

I usually show my progress on a quilt through several posts, but I didn’t blog about this one because it was going to be juried.  It’s now been accepted for the exhibition, so I’ll show my entire process – start to finish – in one post.

It’s for a new Fibre Art Network exhibition, titled ‘Canadiana’.  All pieces must be 18 inches wide, and the length can be anywhere from 24 to 54 inches.

original photoI had initially thought I would make another Vancouver cityscape, but the 18 inch width was feeling restrictive.  Then I remembered a photo I took a couple of years ago of the Lions Gate Bridge as we walked along the Stanley Park seawall.  It fits the vertical format much better than a cityscape.  I love the teal tones of the bridge, and wanted to use realistic colors for that.  But I decided to make the sky a warmer lavender-blue shade for better contrast.

I won’t make you read all the way to the bottom to see the finished quilt – here it is.  (But if you’re interested in how I made my full size pattern and how I constructed the quilt, continue reading.)


As usual, I used Picasa to edit the photo.  I cropped it, lightened it, then used the ‘pencil sketch’ effect to get a line drawing.  I printed that version of the photo on letter size paper and used a pencil to fill in a few missing details.

I like to have a full-size pattern and a full-size mirror image pattern.  I use the full-size pattern to position the various pieces, and I use the mirror image to trace pattern pieces onto freezer paper and/or paper-backed fusible web.  I’ve found a nifty way to get both patterns. I photocopy my line drawing onto a product called Fun-dation. It’s a semi-transparent foundation material that comes in letter size sheets and can be run through a printer.  Because it’s semi-transparent, you can see the mirror image on the reverse side of the sheet.  The image can be photocopied and enlarged from either side of the foundation sheet.  (The reverse side is a little fainter, so the printer may need to be set to a darker setting.)  My printer can take 11 x 17 inch paper so for this pattern I enlarged my images by 400% and printed the full-size pattern on 4 pieces of paper.

pencil sketch effect      selecting fabrics

I used a similar process to what I used for ‘Swoop’ – my quilt of the Skybridge.  (And it was so easy to look back on my blog post and read about my process – I didn’t have to wrack my brains to remember what I did and why.)  As with ‘Swoop’, the larger parts were constructed from freezer paper templates with edges folded under and the smaller parts were fused raw edge appliqué.

building crossbracesThe fused units were constructed on parchment paper laid over the pattern. When they were complete, I just peeled the fused unit off the parchment paper and pinned it on the design wall.  Here is the cross brace section under construction.

I needed to make sure I had enough value differences  to make the bridge look three-dimensional and solid.  So I auditioned a lot of teal fabrics before starting construction.

checking value differences

I made the sky background and quilted it before I added the bridge.  I positioned and fused the bridge components, then straight stitched the edges.

backupground quilted    most units constructed and pinned


The large main cables are fussy cut from a great striped fabric – the white-gray-black stripes look like the cables are lit from above by the sun.  The vertical suspending cables were made from 2 strands of white embroidery thread couched in place.
auditioning cable fabric


Title and artist’s statement – I usually think about this while making the quilt and jot down descriptive words and phrases as they occur to me. I also did some internet research about the history of the bridge. Several sites used the words elegant and graceful to describe the bridge and that really resonated with me. On the day of the deadline for entry I still hadn’t decided on a title.  As I was writing the artist’s statement, editing my description down to 50 words, I used the phrase ‘air of elegance’ and decided that would be my title.

The Lions Gate Bridge has been an iconic landmark of Vancouver BC since 1938.   Its striking teal colour and slender metal structural towers lend it an air of elegance. Here the bridge soars over the seawall in Stanley Park, then spans the First Narrows of the Burrard Inlet.


Thanks for stopping by.  Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative and inspirational projects.

   Creations by Nina-Marie   Confessions of a Fabric Addict

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10 Responses to Off my design wall – a project start to finish and a tutorial – 2014.11.08

  1. Love it, Terry! I find that I am at a loss for words sometimes when I see your work so I’ll just say it’s simply beautiful!

  2. what a work of art!!! Congratulations

  3. lucinda jones says:

    Awesome ! I haven’t seen a bridge look so life like before your shading and workmanship is outstanding

  4. jhimsl says:

    It’s beautiful Terry. I’ll have to get working on having it come to a gallery near me.

  5. Renate says:

    Your sense of value, tone, tint and shadow is impeccable! Wonderful representation of an iconic landmark.

  6. deborah says:

    Absolutely Fabulous! I love the piece! Wonderful results and thank you very much for sharing your process. best! deborah

  7. I like the “up from under” point of view!
    thanks for sharing it!

  8. wow Terry! that is just fabulous! you really treat those fabrics as paint and you keep on creating masterpieces!

  9. knitnkwilt says:

    Beautiful! Isn’t it great when a restricting challenge detail leads to a greater idea than the one you started with!

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