18 February 2018

It's all about the colour

I have received several emails since my last post about my process for choosing fabrics for a new project, so I will try and explain a little better.

I don't have a background in art and I am by no means an expert!

When I first started quilting more than 20 years ago, I played safe, I chose either a print fabric and then pulled colours from that print or I bought a collection of fabrics e.g. a fat quarter bundle.  There is nothing wrong with this but I realised early on that I was drawn to scrap quilts, I love them 😀 the more fabrics the better! Why use one green fabric when you can use 30 😀 The problem with scrap quilts,  is that if you are not careful they can end up looking like a bit of dog's dinner.  The way I try and avoid this is to limit the number of colours in the quilt, not the number of fabrics.

One of the best things I have bought is a colour swatch guide, this one is by Joen Wolfrom, it really helps me to identify colours in fabrics


When I start a new project, I normally have an idea of the sort of look I want, I can get colour inspiration from almost anywhere: magazines, paintings, postcards, photos or from fabrics and other quilters.

For my next project I have started with a piece of fabric I love - this may or may not make it into the final quilt but it is my starting point.  (This is a Liberty Tana Lawn 'Small Susanna')


I really like the fresh colours in this print; looking at a colour wheel helps me to see that this scheme is a split complementary - colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel with an opposite colour for contrast.  In this case Magenta through to Yellow with a complementary Turquoise.


I go through my stash and pull any fabrics in these colours, adding in some ivory as a neutral


The blue is wrong, it took me a while to work out why, but I have pulled Cerulean blue. I don't have any Turquoise in my stash, I could go and buy some, but I do have some lovely Aqua Greens, so I start again with those


I like the pinks, oranges etc in the original fabric, so again I check the colour wheel and see that Aqua green sits opposite Red, I then look at the colours either side of Red and decide to chose from Fuchsia through to Golden Yellow, with my complementary Aqua Green


I go back to my stash and pull anything that might work








I leave the piles of fabric where I can see them and look at them each time I am passing, adding or subtracting any that stand out.  I find it really helps, if I start by thinking about what I don't want, this quilt is to be quite bright with clear colours, so I pull out all the fabrics with a Grey muted feel.  I also decided I want colour to do the work not value, so I pulled all the very lights too. I will add contrast with a fresh ivory instead. The pattern I am thinking of making is very intricate with small pieces, so again I decided to eliminate large prints/patterns and will work just with solids or tone on tone fabrics.


This is not the final selection, I need to buy some more fuchsia/magenta and maybe a couple more golden yellow/oranges to give enough variety, but it is a starting point and these colours will give me the look I was after.

I hope that has been helpful, colour is a very personal thing and what looks good to one person can look hideous to another.  If it looks good to you then it is right and don't let anyone tell you that your colours are wrong 😀

09 February 2018

Several Cups of Tea later ...

I mentioned in my last post that I have started a new quilt; this is one of Sarah Fileke's 2018 BOMs 'Simple Folk'  you can find details from Sarah HERE

I had originally decided on a Nordic inspired Red, White and Blue scheme


I love these colours and the fabrics I bought, however when it came to choosing the fabrics for the first appliqué tulip block, I really wasn't happy with my limited fabric palette, it's a bit boring!



After much head scratching and discussion, I realised that I could add to my original fabrics, Sarah helpfully pointed out that red could also mean pink - why didn't I think of that ?!?

I decided to go back to basics and pull out my colour wheel tool, I find this incredibly useful when choosing fabrics for a new quilt.  It was obvious that my main colours were red and blue


I rummaged through my several bins of scraps, and pulled more reds, pinks and blues that would play nicely, but it still wasn't right, another cup of tea and another colour were called for 😀 Using the colour wheel again, I found that yellow-green sits equally between red and blue, these three colours play nicely in a triadic colour scheme.


Yes, I like this! more tea and more scrap shopping...


I have always kept anything larger than 2" square in bins by colour, but I rarely think of my scraps when it comes to pulling fabrics for a quilt (note to self - use more scraps!) They are perfect for appliqué when sometimes you need the smallest piece.


I have a lot of Dutch chintz leftovers which I think will work wonderfully for the appliqué in this quilt. Happy finally with the fabrics for the tulip, I decided that my initial thoughts on pale blue for the corner triangles was now too insipid, so I switched to the Navy


Yes, I like this much better 😀 Swapping Navy for pale blue also meant changing the colour of the nine patches in the pieced blocks from navy/white to red/white


I am happy with how this is going, using the original fabrics for the pieced blocks and adding in lots of scraps for the appliqué will hopefully hold my interest for the rest of the year.

I am tempted to quilt as you go on this one as it is made up of simple blocks, has anyone tried this? thoughts, tips? please!