Sunday, March 15, 2009

Darjeeling Limited: Center Medallion

This is the story of how I translated my inspiration - the Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited - into a quilt. At least, it's a chapter in that story. I started by watching the film with my trusty notebook in hand. When I saw images that I was particularly inspired by, I hit the pause button on the DVD player and sketched. As you can see on the example above, I noted color placement and color scheme. Occasionally I noted the subject matter. In this case I believe it was one of many designs painted on the side of a white bus that comes to pick up the main characters at Dhelana.
Once I had settled on the idea that this diamond would be the center of a medallion quilt, I sketched it again filling in possible colors with colored pencil. More important that the color, this sketch helped me determine the proportions of the diamond.
Theoretically, one could strip piece the center diamond out of a set of solid colors ranging from red-orange to yellow. But when I originally saw the diamond in the film it reminded me of some of the amazing ombre fabrics available. I had been looking for an opportunity to work with ombre for awhile. I knew I'd need at least four repeats to get the four long edges of the diamond. I bought a half yard, figuring the sides of my diamond wouldn't be any larger than 18 inches (using the Pythagorean Theorem I figured if the longer center line of the diamond were 32 inches, and the shorter center line were 16 inches, that would make the sides about 17.89 inches - but don't let the math worry you).
From the reddest stripe to the yellowest stripe was 5 inches. Since I want the entire yellowest stripe to show along the outside of the diamond and I want the entire reddest stripe to show at the center of the diamond, I could have figured out the size of the right triangle I'd need for the template using a lot of geometry I've mostly forgotten.
Instead I made a right triangle out of scrap paper that was larger than what I would need, but the correct proportions (the short leg half as long as the long leg). I lined up the right angle to where I wanted the finished inside corner to land: so the whole reddest line would show. Then I lined up the hypotenuse parallel to the lines of the ombre. I lay my trusty clear ruler down along the edge of the yellowest line and marked the paper. I cut the paper template along that line. The resulting paper template was the exact finished size of the right triangles I need to assemble to make my diamond. Look Mom, No Math!
Next I broke out my handy translucent template plastic. I put it on top of the paper template. Using my trusty transparent ruler which is marked off in quarter inch increments, I drew lines exactly a quarter inch outside the paper template. I cut the template plastic out along those lines. Then, using a 0.1 Pigma marker I used my ruler to mark lines on the template a quarter inch from each edge and extended to the end along the hypotenuse. This allows me to line up the template along the ombre and know I'm going to get the whole reddest line and the whole yellowest line in my finished piece.
Usually when you use templates you flip them over and trace them onto the back of the fabric. But the ombre print on this fabric wasn't visible from the back, so I marked on the top of the fabric. This is no big deal so long as you don't let your pen lift up your template and jog across your finished sewing area. I used a green Ultra Fine Point Sharpie to make a visible line on this eye-glazing fabric. For the diamond, it's important to remember to trace two triangles in one direction, flip the template, and trace two triangles in the other direction.
I used my super-sharp Gingher scissors of doom to cut along the marked lines. Here you can see what I mean about two triangles in one direction and two triangles in the other direction.
Here are the pieces of the central diamond laid out and ready to go!

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3 comments:

Thalia said...

This reminds me of a recent post over at one of the knitting blogs I read:

http://feralknitter.typepad.com/feral_knitter/2009/03/journalsthe-most-important-feral-tool.html

in terms of keeping a record of inspirations. I'd like to try the same. Right now backs of envelopes or margins of knitting patterns aren't terribly handy in the long run.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you make of this medallion.

Sarah said...

That Feral Knitting post about journals is awesome.

I keep my journal in an Ampad Computation Book because the sturdy pages are numbered (for OCD-induced cross-referencing), grid-ruled (for ease of cribbing quilt blocks), and a pleasing cream color.

Backs of envelopes aren't innately bad, you just need to stick them into a centralized location - like a notebook or a folder - so you can find them again. Marginalia is a time honored tool. Again, if you note these in a central location (like a page of your notebook that says, "check out the notes you wrote on the Blah-Blah knitting pattern," you can find them again later.

Stay tuned for more medallion mania!

Thalia said...

Mention of Pythagorean Theorm for the win!!!!

That's a stunning center piece. I love the transparent plastic triangle for maximum I-know-what-I'm-cutting ability.

Hmm, nouns not so hot today.