Friday, July 04, 2014


91" x 91"
photographing big quilts
I finished quilting Gift last spring.  The machine quilting was tough.  I have a Juki with a larger than normal neck, but it was still hard to push all this fabric through it.  Additionally, I decided to quilt in 1/4" lines of concentric spiraling outward squares at the intersection of each block.  This meant I had to turn the quilt many, many times under the sewing machine.  This much quilting also caused the quilt to shrink 7 inches in both directions.  I should not be surprised, but I was!
I found it really difficult to photograph this enormous quilt in a way that makes it look as good in the photo as it does in real life.  My design wall is made of two BIG foam core boards.  I used to carry them downstairs to my living room, move a bit of furniture, set up the lights and shoot from across the room.  It worked pretty well, but now my foam core boards are warped, they bend like a big concave lens.  This makes the quilts look distorted too.  And, it is a bit of an ordeal to set up.
Here's an indoor shot as an example:
You can see what I mean on the right side.  The quilt is actually square, but it appears as though it bends inward slightly along the right edge.  Some of this can be corrected if centered through the camera lens just right.  I have a lot of experience doing that, and this is not my best work.  However, it is still distorting on the sides because it clings to the warped design wall.
I wish I had an easy set up outdoors.  I like the lighting much better.  It shows the colors more accurately and the texture of the quilt sings.  Drawbacks include wind, dirt, and eliminating distracting backgrounds (which you can see on the edges below). Sometimes if you don't need a straight on shot, the wind can make for really great photos.  And, selecting just the right light can also be a challenge as bright sunlight can create overexposure and harsh shadows.
Now that I am comparing the two photos, this is kind of silly, but it appears the first photo was taken before I put a hanging tube on it.  It was pinned to the wall in a different orientation than this one.  oops! For the outside shot, I added the hanging tube, but arbitrarily selected a different top edge. Regardless, I still think the colors and quality of the colors looks so much better in the second one.  Sadly, this one is a bit distorted too.  I did not have a long enough hanging rod. The top edge on both sides creates some wrinkles along the quilt.  And, yet the colors look so much better!  The quilt looks dead in the first photo, and in this one it comes alive!  Here it is in-situ.
I put two nails along the top edge of the playscape.  Fortunately, it was tall enough for this quilt.  It looks particularly good with my aqua picnic table!  :)
Here's a view of the back, with the swing and trapeze bar.  I took down one swing because it was showing in the front.  The swing had the extra advantage of helping to prevent the breeze from blowing the quilt quite as much.  It was all about the timing and shooting when it was in it's most square position.  After I hung it, it was super easy to shoot.  I didn't even need a tripod.  I think I might be getting a bit lazy in my old age!  ha!
Next step would be to go ahead a buy a longer rod, which is easy enough. 
The close up shot of the quilt quilting looks good in this light too!
Last, this was the second quilt I made from these big batiked blocks.  You can see what I did with the leftovers on this post.

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