big grids with inserted curves :: Okan Arts
big grids with inserted curves

big grids with inserted curves

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  After I delivered my book manuscript, I was drained. It took me months to get back into the studio and create something new. The first intriguing quilt top I made was simple—a grid of blue yukata cotton squares with some inserted curved elements.

The most important aspect of the project was that I got started. I made SOMETHING. Not a masterpiece but it got me engaged in thinking of another way to play with quilt design.

So here’s what I’ve been up to for the last 15 months—Big Grids and Inserted Curves—leapfrogging from one idea to the next:

This is Numero Uno—the first in the series. Note that the Inserted Curves land on the seams of the Big Grid. Someone mentioned that this quilt design looks like the universe—hence the name of the quilt.

The Inserted Curves of my second quilt top again land on the seam lines. This time the yukata cotton colors in the background contrast more—creating a checkerboard pattern in the Big Grid. Once there is stitching in the creamy white floral areas, the design will be more resolved.
There’s a saying in Japan: You can’t catch a catfish with a bottle gourd. Essentially this means that something just can’t be done. The Big Grid background of this quilt top is made with squares of indigo-over-dyed yukata cotton. Breakthrough—the Inserted Curves (bottle gourd shapes) float and don’t align with seams!

The salmon-colored morning glory fabric in the Big Grid inspired this outrageous Inserted Curves design with infinity loops. I purposely drew the loops different sizes to avoid the proverbial question: What template did you use?
Two wonky circles transect the background squares of bold yukata cottons. Yes, I actually sewed the Big Grid together and then opened up the seams about 4 inches to tuck in the ends of each Inserted Curves segment.
I purchased four bolts of yukata cotton that surprised me. Only the first meter of each bolt was patterned (with a silkscreened motif) and the remaining yardage was solid colored. I made the Big Grid out of the solids and created a Venn-like diagram using the silkscreened iris for the Inserted Curves.
I made 11 circular patches to insert into this indigo-and-white-striped Big Grid. Using my editorial judgement, I stopped myself after I added just one Inserted Curves element! Once stitched, this uncomplicated quilt may be my favorite.
Flowers in the sky, in Japan, refers to the images a person sees with cataracts. Once I finished the Inserted Curves of the colorful central design, I knew I wanted something more. So I echoed the form with another floral shape plus leaves, and inserted them into the indigo-over-dyed Big Grid.
At Houston Quilt Market last year, I met Tina Hilton of Turtle Hand Batiks. Enthusiastic Tina sent me home with some of her global fabrics to try. This Inserted Curves quilt top is more sculptural in style. The theme comes from when I was pregnant with my second daughter, anticipating her arrival.
Both the yukata cottons in this Big Grid quilt top are from my private stash. I wanted just a touch of Inserted Curves, so I made skinny red lines for the curved forms. I almost added a large persimmon-colored circle to the top right quadrant. After a good night’s sleep, I changed my mind as I liked the integrity and motion of this composition.

My vision is to create 21 quilts in this series. I look forward to seeing where my creative journey will take me and what the twenty-first quilt will look like!

Details for the finishing: backs will be made with yukata cottons, batting will be Hobbs Tuscany Silk, stitching will be by machine with the Baby Lock Sashiko 2 (it makes dashed stitches!) using Aurifil 12 wt. cotton thread.

When will I be finished? My estimate would be in two years.

To see my progress on this project three months later +click here

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30 comments to “big grids with inserted curves”

  1. Elizabeth Eisenhood says:

    It’s fascinating to see your next steps after pausing from the manuscript push and taking a break. Your work always inspires and intrigues. Thank you for sharing these glimpses into your process.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Elizabeth—Thanks. It’s interesting for me to have compiled the quilt designs in one place so even I can see my progress. PB

  2. Janet Wright says:

    Lovely quilts. You have been very busy–I imagine it won’t take you long to make the rest–You are on a roll.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Janet—Perhaps it will go quickly. I think I’m going to make the Big Grids more complicated so that will slow me down. Or maybe not! PB

  3. Jennifer says:

    I was fortunate to receive your book for Christmas. It now resides on my bedside table. Absolutely love it!
    My favorite Big Grid are “On Target” and “Flowers in the Sky”

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Thank you Jennifer. I really like On Target—it is so simple . The yukata cotton fabrics are doing all the work! Flowers in the Sky is special. Instead of editing out ideas, I came up with more that I wanted to add. So I’m back to my favorite verb—to discern. Keep looking at what you are doing and continually make decisions on how to proceed. PB

  4. Rachel James says:

    Patricia – The inserted curves are terrifically cool. Equally cool are your big grid designs that really show off the fascinating decorative patterns of the yukata cottons you have chosen. Its a great visual combo! Rachel

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Rachel—The yukata cottons are the reason the blocks in the grids are so big. The fabrics typically come with mega patterns so I don’t cut them up into micro pieces. Thanks! PB

  5. Sarah says:

    These are lovely! “Boro” is my favorite too!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Sarah—It’s fun to challenge myself to create the complicated quilt designs but quite appealing to make the quiet ones. What’s interesting about the “boro patch” is that the Inserted Curve is not a true circle. The shape of the insertion is designed to match the circular line work of a different yukata cotton. PB

  6. Shirley Whitcomb says:

    I designed an entire quilt around a tulip in my yard with bold shades of yellow and red.

  7. Melissa Bieman says:

    So fun! I would love to learn this technique

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Melissa—I hope you will consider coming to The Patricia Retreat where I will be teaching Inserted Curves. There is no need to use Japanese textiles. You can just learn the technique! PB

  8. Nancy says:

    Beautiful work Patricia! I’m trying to gauge the size of these big grids. Big enough for a bed quilt? I really like the design of Target and my other favorite is Bounce.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Nancy—They are all about 60″ x 60″. I am not really a bed quilter although some of my creations end up on beds. I really like Target and Bounce too—they are the most minimalist. The next one I am working on is Harvey—it’s as out-of-control and crazy as a hurricane! PB

  9. David Owen Hastings says:

    Very cool! Fun to watch your progression from one to the next!

  10. Michele says:

    Such inspiring work. I look forward to your emails every month! As I reside in Australia I am unable to take up one of your workshops. Does your book have instructions for the inserted curves?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Hi MIchele—Thank you for being a fan from afar. My book, East-Meets-West Quilts, has no instructions for curved piecing. I am teaching this technique in early February 2019, near Seattle USA. Hopefully I will be invited to an Australian quilt festival one day and be able to teach on your continent. PB

  11. Michele says:

    Oh well! I’ll keep my eye out for any Australian workshops or a new book from you in the future!

  12. Patricia, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I am loving your “curves” work. Hope to see a book out on it from you after you hit your “21”. Missed seeing you at Market. I was only there a couple of days.

  13. Veronica says:

    Your designs show your exploration and I enjoy the process.

  14. emily says:

    Beautiful site! Are there templates for sale for any of your quilts?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Emily—Thank you. The Inserted Curves is a technique that I teach so you can design your own quilts with curved elements. Look under the LEARN section for Week-Long Workshops and you will see that I’ll be teaching Insert Curves in late September. Best, P.

  15. Nancvy Hower says:

    I love your circles and inserted curves concepts. I am anxious to take a class in LaConner. Maybe next summer when we get our travel schedule firmed.

  16. Judy Lawrance says:

    Wow! Those inserted curve quilts are truly magnificent!!! So wish I could visit your shop and see some of your work and those beautiful fabrics up close!!! Alas, Florida is just too far away!!!