Saturday, 22 December 2012

Set-up for quilt photographs...

...and finished photos of this detailed custom quilting job I've just finished; a six-block Swoon, quilting with coordinating pink, aqua and white Glide thread.

(Apologies if this post seems a bit scatty; I initially had it as part of the previous post, but it got so long I split it in two a while back, and this part doesn't flow as nicely now - but the gist is still there.)

For progress photos of my quilts, I'll happily take fairly quick snaps, though as I mentioned, I do correct them a little before blogging them! But I like to have good quality photos of the finished product. That means I want the quilt flat and square, in focus, well lit to show the quilting, and to have accurate colours. Generally I have achieved most of this to a certain degree by sticking my quilts to an outside wall with lots of double-sided tape.
If I time it just right, I get good, indirect natural light. But with bigger quilts, I often get shadows at the top from the verandah, and the really big ones don't fit - there's no one section of flat, uninterrupted wall space big enough for a king size quilt where I can also stand far enough back not to distort the photo, and have decent light.

But even assuming the quilt fits and the time and weather cooperate, taping the quilts up is tedious, uses lots of tape (it's not cheap) and it's hard to get them square. I'm getting better with practice, but it's really hard to keep the edges straight and squared, and even the most perfectly square quilt usually gets tugged out of shape. I did try using a spirit level and taping some reference lines to the wall, but they didn't last and were often not in the right place for the different sizes and shapes of my quilts - and it's too time-consuming to do every time. I photograph quilts quite often!
The main reason I went and bought myself the large foam sheets was for photographing my quilts, rather than designing them. My ultimate aim is to have 2 or more covered foam sheets, with marked grids. The cheap foam is easily damaged without covering, but to do it properly will take some thinking and time - not always available when I need to get photographs of a finished quilt. For now, I've reinforced the edges of the sheets with wide masking tape, and used my quilting rulers and a felt-tip pen to mark some grid lines.
The Wave quilt aside, this customer quilt was the first one photographed properly in this manner. It's wider than a single sheet of the foam (1200 x 2450mm, approx 4 x 8 feet) , so I taped 2 together with gaffer tape along the long edge.

This was rather interesting. I did it in our hallway, but found myself stuck. The hallway is about 10cm (4in) too narrow to fold the second sheet back to the first one, and the doorways at either end definitely too low to allow passage of the opened pair! Very heavy furniture also blocked one end. With help from James and Eleanor, we just managed to fold the two enough to get through the doorway into my bedroom, and by shoving our bed along, just squeezed the pair right into the room enough to fold them together, then tip them onto their side and carry them out!
I still need to work out a good spot to both store the large sheets without damaging them, and for pinning the quilts, then photographing them. Pinning is best done flat on the floor; where the weight of the quilt isn't an issue. But you need to be able to reach the edges easily to align them with the grid lines and pin (leaning on the foam leaves indentations, even if you're careful), and you need space to move! I forget just how many pins I used now, but they were spaced about every 3in around the edges, and there were six strategically-placed in the centre. I use fine pins with tiny heads, so they neither leave holes nor show in the photo.
This time I photographed the quilt in our enormous barn-like carport. My 'usual' wall doesn't have enough clearance for such large sheets (2.4m high) and I don't want to cut them, as I'll need the height for the bigger quilts (in fact, they're still not quite large enough for a king size - I'll deal with that issue when I get to it!). It's not ideal, but it worked well enough - once I'd manoeuvred the boats and trailer out the way.

The shadowing (top left)  is the main issue (maybe I'll replace more of the metal roofing sections) but I need the support of a wall to keep the whole lot flat. (In fact, even leaning close to the wall, I had to get James and Eleanor to stand on either side and gently push back the sheets part-way up to prevent the centre bagging out).

And then again after the photo shoot, I edit the photos. I've been doing that tonight while listening to/watching Carols by Candlelight.

I'm now working on another swoon quilt for the same cusotmer, but this time with only four blocks. Progress photos coming...


Michèle-Renée Charbonneau said...

Emma, your quilting is absolutely stunning! What a beautiful effect the different coloured threads give it. Your client will be thrilled.

Vicki W said...

The quilt is beautiful!

gina burgess said...

Hi Emma
Where did you buy the foam boards?
Gina Burgess

gina burgess said...

Hi Emma
Where did you buy the foam boards?
Gina Burgess

LynCC said...

So stunning. I've just loved watching this one emerge. :)

Linda H. said...

The quilting you've done on this one is STUPENDOUS! I am so impressed! I need your wonderful inspiration as I prepare to reset my sewing room from piecing to quilting... and then spend several weeks quilting. I am not looking forward to the FMQ out-of-practice feeling. I only hope I can do half - or less than half! - as well quilting my quilts as you did on this one. It's simply amazing.

Karen said...

Hi. I came to your site through a couple of other blogs and I'm so glad I did. Your quilting is absolutely gorgeous. I have done a swoon quilt and sure wish you lived near me. (I'm on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada)....the quilting on mine was beautiful but your custom quilting is wonderful. I especially like the two colours of thread you matched to the blocks. I'll be back to see your projects and your quilting.