Total Color Tuesday (Launch post!)

As I've mentioned, I've been doing a lot of reading on design principles and the like. Lately, I've been reading Color Magic for Quilters by Ann Seely and Joyce Stewart. Now, there are a ton of books out there on color for quilters. I just happen to be using this one. I'll do a full review on an upcoming episode of my podcast. But for now, suffice it to say that the book spends a chapter on each color scheme of the color wheel and talks about applying it to quilts. And it goes far beyond the usual monochromatic, analagous, split-complementary and other schemes we're used to seeing in these kinds of books.

I thought I'd play with it, and suggest you play too. What I'm doing to do is go through the color schemes in the book, one per week (on Tuesdays), and see if I can pull fabrics from my stash that might fit that scheme. So each week, I'll imagine, "If I were to make a quilt entirely from my stash using this scheme, what might that look like?

And then I'll post a linky on that blog post for you to do the same--once you see the color scheme of the week, try it for yourself and link up to my blog with your attempts. If you have tiny stashes, go ahead and use EQ or something like that--but it is important to use actual fabric or fabric images. It's much harder that way than just putting some plain colors onto a computer monitor!

So, this week we're starting with one color. Color Magic refers to this as "single color harmony," and, of course, it's more widely known as monochromatic

Monochromatic use a single color--but you can use shades, tints, and tones within that color. You can also add neutral fabrics if you'd like--white, gray, black, for example, don't add actual (technical) color to a monochromatic scheme so they're legal, if you like to think in those terms. 

Contrast and scale are crucial here. If all of your fabrics are the same value and all the same scale of print, it'll most likely be a less exciting quilt than if you're able to have nice contrast, and a nice contrast of scale as well (large prints, small prints, "read-as-solids," etc.).

Play time.

BTW, I had to work very hard to find prints that had no other colors in them. That was probably the trickiest part. (A multi-colored print is no longer monochromatic, right? At least, if we're being legalistic about it, which for the purposes of this play time I chose to be.)

I started with greens. This one took me awhile to find a set I thought might actually work. My stash of greens didn't want to play nicely together for some reason.

I don't think there's quite enough variety of scale of print in this one. Not my favorite, but it could work.

The blues feel a little more successful because I have a wider variety of scale of print, and some of the blues are less muted than the greens were, so there is more variation of saturation (if that's the right term).

The blues were a little more social. It didn't take me as long to find a set that I could easily see being made into a quilt.
And here we have pinky-orange. Or orangey-pink. I have very few pinks in my stash and was surprised to find that several of them were actually this same type of pink--sort of salmon, or coral, or whatever you'd call it.

The fabric in the center is interesting--it looks purple when you put it next to some fabrics, pink when you put it next to others. That's probably one of the biggest things I've taken away from this exercise so far. As value is a relative thing, so can be color. What color seems to be dominant in a fabric can be just as relative as its value. Try to do this with taupes and see what I'm talking about! (Taupe is probably one of the most chameleon-like of the color families.)

So, play with your own stash. How would you make a monochromatic quilt with what you have? Link to the specific blog post, please! (If you've already made a monochromatic quilt, you can link back to that blog post as well.)

Another finish and some homework

 I finished the first of two receiving blankets tonight. These are going to be for a friend of mine who is expecting her first baby, a little girl, this July. I'm also going to be making her a quilt but just couldn't resist making a couple of these really cute receiving blankets using the same Missouri Star Quilt Company technique I used for all the donation quilts I helped new sewers make back in March.

I'll finish the second one tomorrow or Wednesday--it's all cut and ready to go.

Tomorrow night is our quilt design study group. Since we had to shuffle our schedule around a bit in April to accommodate travel schedules, we ended up with a six-week stretch between meetings. I suggested we do homework, which is supposed to be a regular part of our experience but we've been skipping a lot. (We do a lot more in-session, however, so it's sort of a toss-up.) I figured with six weeks, it wouldn't be a problem. Of course, I left it to tonight to do. Yes, I can spell procrastination.

We had just done a segment on color and Vicki, who led the session, had prepped all the materials for us to each make our own fabric color wheel and it contains little spinny cards to put in the center with a variety of color schemes on them. Our homework was supposed to be to choose a color scheme we wouldn't normally use and do something with it.

So, tonight, I pulled out the color wheel and threw all the little center spinny cards face down on my table and shuffled them up. Drawing one at random, I then put it in the center of the color wheel and, eyes closed, spun it around a few times then landed it somewhere. Opening my eyes, this is what I found:
(The writing says, "4 points on a square.")

Yep, that's definitely a color scheme I wouldn't normally use. Yellow, blue-green, purple, red-orange. My first thought was, "ick."

I burrowed through my scraps for awhile, still thinking at that point that I might just do a little fused something-or-other, so I didn't want to commit whole pieces of fabric. I found the blue-green and purple pretty easily--those are colors I do drift towards on occasion. Red-orange was a little trickier mostly because it's hard to find something truly red-orange and not red or orange. I finally landed on one. But yellow? Wow. That was a toughy. I've discovered I don't actually have a lot of yellow in my stash. I had a few random yellow scraps but they were all a lot more shaded (and I use that word in its official artistic sense) than I wanted to go with the other colors. Finally, I dug into my fat quarters and there it was. The perfect yellow. 

And, in fact, a lovely combination altogether. Bright, admittedly, but just imagine it with a some white thrown in there to calm it down. I'm picturing festive appliqued flowers on a white background with the yellow as a border. Or cute little mini-stars pieced into that yellow as a background in a mini-quilt.
But, to be honest, that's an image that will never get made into reality. I've got too many other more pushy designs in my head demanding my attention. It was a fun project, though, finding those colors. And now I do have some new color combination possibilities in my head. Try it yourself sometime!

Hand-dyeing Fun

Like my last post, this one is also related to episode 66, "In Which We Go on Retreat," of my podcast series. In that episode I described the class we had in dyeing fabric. What a hoot!

The first example is my least favorite, which is why I'm starting out with it. Maybe seeing the others below will blank this one out of your memory.

That being said, parts of the stripes look like a reflection on a calm I can easily see some fussy-cut-utility here.

I heart this one. Blues, greens, and lots of white space.

My first attempt at the Shibori technique. (For a great blog post about Shibori, visit here.)

Didn't work so well because my fabric really wanted to come unwrapped when I scrunched it down the PVC pipe. I like the colors and it's still a very usable result, but I wanted a more distinct pattern...
...and so I tried it again. Got a much better pattern this time, but traded off the heavy orange at the end of the last one with a lot of white at the end of this one. This technique takes some practice.
I had no idea the blue was going to turn out this brilliant...and no, no photo-editing involved! The other color is raspberry, which also came out pretty intense, but I did dunk the hey out of it so I suppose it's no surprise. Digging the results.

I believe I just wadded this one up randomly and wrapped rubber bands around it at a variety of angles.

No idea how I did this. Wish I could remember because it's a look I'd love to replicate in other colors. It's a mix of teal and plum. (The center looks bright white in this picture--it's actually more of a very, very soft teal.)

And my other fave. Looks like a frosty windowpane, doesn't it? Super cool. Too bad I have no idea how I did that one either.

I had a blast dying fabric. So much so that I've promised myself I'm not going to buy any of the supplies to do more until I've used at least a few of these pieces in a project.

So I guess that means I have to get to work!

Lines in Quilts--Supplemental Post to Episode 63 of Quilting...for the Rest of Us

In this week's QFTRU podcast episode, Jaye and I spoke about line as a design element. These pictures of my mom's and my quilts will help illustrate some of the things we talked about it. (By the way, that's Jaye of artquiltmaker fame. The link takes you to her blog which has additional information on this topic.)

First is a picture of Mom's Irish Chain (actually, technically, a Triple Irish Chain, I believe, as it's three rows of squares in a column). Clearly the blocks themselves create strong lines here--including the darks and the mediums in the squares themselves creating several visual lines in tandem. This photo was evidently taken before it was finished--whatever quilting she ended up doing on it (I don't remember and one of my sisters has this quilt) would have created another set of lines that either emphasized or complemented the strong diagonals. Dig those crazy 80s colors.

Here is one of my early quilts, "Bugs in the Cabin." The basic log cabin is extremely versatile and a fantastic example of how blocks themselves create lines and understanding how those lines work are important in understanding design. Here I liked having the stair-step feel because this quilt was originally intended for a impending baby who would have been attracted by the repetition of high contrast. (This quilt was made using the Eleanor Burns quilt-in-a-day method, btw, one of my earliest quilts, probably circa 2000-ish. I later quilted it with invisible thread and made a huge mess and finally consigned it to the basement for my kids to use while watching TV. Too bad. It was a cute quilt. Said baby was probably about 6 or 7 years old by the time I finally sat down to try to fix my original mistakes and ultimately gave up. Fortunately, said baby's mother never knew I'd been working on a quilt and was quite happy with the set of onesies she got instead.)

The log cabin block is one of my faves because of it's versatility. Here's another one I made a year or so after the one above--probably somewhere around 2002 or so.This one turned out much more nicely! Note that it's the same block as the image above. But a different setting creates an entirely different feel. In this case, you have a couple of different sets of lines--the light and dark "barn-raising" setting, plus the more zig-zaggy lines of the fabrics themselves: the heavy blue that appears as cross-shaped outlines, and the directional floral print also create lines of its own.

You can't see it in the picture but after consulting with Mom, she suggested that I could quilt each "log" down the center to make each individual piece of fabric look like two pieced together--very strongly emphasizing the lines of the blocks. And boy, did that make it look even more impressive! Loved that effect. Took for-freakin'-ever, but turned out nicely. This wasn't anyone's pattern--just a standard, traditional log cabin quilt I made for an extended family member. I miss it. Someday I'll make myself one with these exact colors, sigh.

Mom also made me a quilt with the log cabin that, using variable width and length "logs" (fabric strips) creates a circular line. Very cool. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have any pictures of it. I'll try to remember to take pics of that one later.

Back to Mom's quilts for an example of how line can become evident through settings. Here's a sampler quilt with sampler blocks alternated with an Irish Chain variant block to create strong diagonals.

I don't know anything about this quilt--found it after Mom had passed away. Has the look of a block-of-the-month to me, and it's clearly a more recent quilt based on the fabrics, but Mom wasn't particularly consistent about labeling. If anyone recognizes the pattern and can identify it for me, let me know! (I kept this one--it's so cheery!)

Here's another example out of Mom's lifetime compilation of quilt-work. I'm guessing 80s, again, based on colors and fabrics. No idea about the pattern or designer--anyone recognize it?

In any case, here the line is created by block, color, and quilting lines. Notice how the quilting lines in some places echo the general hexagonal shape of the overall design, whereas in other places it emphasizes the individual lines of the blocks themselves.

Keep this quilt in mind whenever we do start talking about balance. It's also a good example of radial symmetry. Gotta love a two-fer.

Now we're going to get even more funky. How many lines does this design have in it? And how many types of lines?

Lots of wonderful eye-travel going on in this one--your eye follows the diamond around the center and then swirls through the fan shapes that are both diagonal and curvy at the same time. Very cool.

Another of Mom's quilts--it had been completed except for the binding when she passed away (although I think the top was several years old at that point), so I finished off the binding. This became a wedding gift for a close family friend that Mom would have most certainly given a quilt to had she still been with us.

Again, no idea on pattern or designer. If someone recognizes it, let me know. (Mom did design some quilts herself but not usually in this style.)

Sorry about the bad picture--I think I might have taken this one on my cell phone. Mom did this one sometime in the late 90's, I think. Again, this is someone's pattern/design that I can't identify and (sigh) Mom didn't label it. Now you know why I'm such a label evangelist on my podcast.

Would you normally look at a design like this one and think "line?" Why or why not? What basic lines do you find here? How do the blocks work together to create those lines?

Does it help is allow your eyes to blur just a little bit so you're seeing shapes more than individual pieces? You'll get more of a sense of line  that way.

And finally, for a wild-and-crazy line. We're finishing with one of my favorite of Mom's quilts. And this one I can identify as a pattern by designer Karen K. Stone. I seriously dig it. It always reminds me of a story Mom told about another New York Beauty-esque quilt she'd made: Dad, who was normally extremely supportive of her quilting, had said he'd never sleep under that quilt because it looked "too sharp and pointy." So think about that design question next time you're making a quilt for a bed. Is it too sharp and pointy for comfortable snoozing? Tee hee.

In any case, what does this quilt tell you about line? (I did eventually get a binding on that one and it went to one of my very funky nieces.)

That's it for this week, podquilters!