When you were in school, did you wonder where you would ever use some of the stuff you learned? Of course you did! I can hear it now, “But I’m not going to be a reporter… why do I need to learn journalism?” Whether you make quilts for a living, or just for fun, how do you decide what to make? Do you just fly by the seat of your pants? Do you see something that you like, but change the colors… and maybe that one shape? Or, do you, perhaps, use those Five W’s you learned in school: who, what, when, where, and why?
Wikipedia describes the Five W’s as questions whose answers are considered basic in information-gathering. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. According to the principle of the Five W’s, a report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions. Some authors add “how” to the list, which can provide even more information. Each question should have a factual answer — facts necessary to include for information-gathering to be considered complete. Importantly, none of these questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
So, how do we, as quilters, use these questions? Answering them can help you decide on which quilt to make, if you need to design your own, what colors to use, how big it needs to be, and a number of other things. Let’s look at how answering the Five W’s (and one H) can help you.
Who will the quilt be for? Is it for you, a friend, a fund-raiser, a quilt show entry, or for sale? It is important to make the project fit the purpose. If you are making it for a friend, and their favorite color is orange, then you will want to include orange as a dominant color in the quilt. That, however, may not be your first color choice if you are making the quilt for sale. You see, who the quilt is for is an important step in deciding the other specifics of your quilt.
What will the recipient use the quilt for? Will they hang it on a wall, use it on the guest bed, or cuddle up with it every night? Will it’s use require it to be washed regularly? Knowing what the quilt will be used for may help you decide on the materials to use, while knowing the finished size can help you decide on the design.
When does the quilt need to be completed? Do you have the time you need to make a complex quilt, or would a less complicated design be a better choice? Do you have the skills to complete the quilt, or do you need more quilting education before you start? Is there time to order any special materials you will need? Timing can be a big factor in what you decide to make.
Where will the quilt be displayed, and where will it be made? The display part may have been answered by one of the previous questions. Now, consider where you will be working on the quilt. Do you have a large enough work space to accommodate the quilt you want to make? If it is for someone else, is it a surprise? Will you need to move your work every night before they get home? If you will be traveling, does the design allow you to work on smaller sections that you can take along? The size of the work space may have a huge influence on the design you choose.
Is there a special occasion that you are commemorating? Perhaps a graduation, marriage, baby, birthday, etc. Special occasions will have time frames, color schemes, and perhaps even photos that you may want to include. Or, are you making something for a friend because they admire your work and want something that you made? Quilts for a quilt show will likely have certain requirements that you will need to follow, so make sure you are aware of them. You’d hate to complete your project only to find out that you did not follow the requirements.
How may have been answered already, but if not, here’s your chance. How can include things like the type of quilting (machine or hand), whether the quilt will be pieced, full-fabric, photo prints, Stack-N-Whack, appliqué, Trapunto, etc. Some techniques require different materials or workspace.
Once you have answered these questions, you will be well on your way to making a great quilt. There are still many decisions to be made, but answering the Five W’s and an H will narrow the field, so to speak. The information you gathered will help you make educated, well thought-out decisions in your quilting. Your favorite quilt store is a wealth of information, and your next logical stop. They will have sample quilts made with currently available fabrics. Having the answers that you gathered will allow them to provide you with quick and helpful answers, because you will know pretty much what you want and where you need input from them.
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Vicki has over 30 years of writing experience with many successful publications such as Stained Glass News, SGN Publishing and Quilter's Digest. For more information about Vicki, visit www.stainedglassnews.com