Monday, July 26, 2010

Playing with Backs

Manyberries Trails

Manyberries Trails is a series that I designed and my wife sewed. The same basic unit, but with a different background color, is used for all 4 quilts. In each quilt a different corner of the basic unit is used as the center of a block.

For the labels on the backs I pieced my wife's initials and the date. I took the opportunity to experiment with fine tuning an alphabet.

On the back of the first quilt I used blue fabric for the letters on a black background.

This is okay but because of the pattern on the blue fabric the letters are not as sharp as they could be.

The black on green gives much sharper, easier to read letters.

However, the P and 9 look small because they only touch the base line with narrow points.

The P and 9 are more consistent with the rest of the letters when their points are extended below the base line.

I overlooked the H; it's points could use extending as well.

I didn't extend the points on the H as much.

If there would have been a 5th quilt in the series, I would have shortened  the P and 9 to match the H. I would have slightly shortened the top of the S as well.

Typographers and calligraphers have been making subtle changes like these to alphabets for centuries. Their purpose is not so much to improve the readability, although it often does, as it is to improve the overall attractiveness of an alphabet.

Quilters often ignore such subtleties and go with what's simplest to sew.

I think that quilt "calligraphy" is an area that offers great opportunity for any one who wants to go exploring.


  1. Wayne,

    "Quilters often ignore such subtleties and go with what's simplest to sew."

    Sadly true! We have computer programs which allow us to work on a design without cutting into fabric and yet a majority of quilters still use the first easy design they find.

    Judy B

  2. Judy

    In all fairness I should mention that most quilters are unaware of the subtleties of lettering. They accept what they find in books and patterns.

    If quilt "calligraphy" were to become a popular quilting niche, I expect the results would filter through the entire quilting community and quilted lettering would improve.