Open or Closed?

That is the question…whether it is better to open those seams or press them to one side.

Here we go again – the latest in the quilt world discussion arena – which is a nice way of saying “percolating controversy”.  For time immemorial, quiltmakers have been pressing their seams to one side – usually toward the darker of the two fabrics – while seamstresses and tailors press open.  Why the difference?  Well, that is the rule, don’t ya know?!  and if you forget, mind you, the “quilt police” will quickly and gleefully write you a ticket for any infraction!

As I have asked again and again, who wrote the rule; when did they write it; and why did they write it?!!  Like many long-time quiltmakers, I came into quiltmaking from garment sewing with a degree in Clothing & Textiles.  I long puzzled over the practice but followed along to avoid those tickets from the QP.  When I started my graduate program at the University of Akron under the guidance of Virginia Gunn, PhD, I was delighted to have her historic perspective as well as sewing expertise to answer so many of these questions.  When I broached this particular subject, she reported that the quiltmaking practice of pressing to one side of the seam was primarily intended to close the seemingly microscopic holes that exist in a seam, between the spots where the thread actually pierces both layers of fabric.   While they are very, very tiny, the cotton fibers of the old-time batts would surely find them and migrate their way out to the top of the quilt.   The result is a very unattractive “beard” on a quilt.  So, it makes good sense to use one layer of the seam to seal those holes shut.

Hhhmmmmm (here’s me thinking)……so we knew the “who” and the “when” (forever) and now we know the “why”.  But, wait!  Our batting is not the same batting as it was even 20 years ago, let alone what it was in the 19th or early 20th centuries.  Many of us use 80% cotton/20% polyester that is needled or felted to encourage all the fibers to stay put and not shift or migrate.  Is the “rule” still appropriate with the current crop of batts?

At the shop, Polka Dot Pincushion, we do a lot of BOM (Block of the Month) programs and kits.  Recently, a BOM quilt was comprised of big blocks and little blocks with lots & lots of pieces, especially triangles – which means, of course, the dreaded bias (which to quilters, this means stretch, not prejudice – but many quiltmakers are indeed prejudiced against triangles for this reason!).  The pattern developers suggested that all seams be pressed open to reduce the bulk of the many seams intersecting in many different directions.  Well, Ronnie, the shop owner, is now a convert!   She is now pressing open every single seam on every single block on every single quilt – she loves it!

For my university class, I assign internet videos as preambles to my upcoming lectures.  Do you know that you can find a video on just about ANYTHING under the sun, including quiltmaking?  Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilts is an international quiltmaking star because her son suggested that she produce a video to reach her distant students!   This is the second year for these assignments and what a huge help it has been!  My students come in ready to see what they are going to see!  For this week’s Log Cabin lecture, they are assigned this Leah Day video on piecing Log Cabin blocks: Leah’s Logs.

In this video, Leah presents a very strong case for pressing seams open – bulk reduction.  Next to bias, bulk is the public enemy #2 of the quiltmaker.  Leah is an outstanding and prolific machine quilter and she knows what the consequences of bulk can be!

Below are two of my Log Cabin samples from previous UA classes – all quilted!  Can you believe it?  Anyway, the “scrappy” pattern that I developed uses fat quarters and will produce a large wall hanging and a small one.  Like any good quiltmaker, I press the seams in one direction.  On the large quilt, I quilted a swirly motif over the blocks, hence over all the seams.  Check the detail photo.  What you can’t see in the photo is the fabric damage that resulted by my heavy quilting with a large-ish needle at some of those seam intersections.  I confess — I dabbed a few holes with fray glue.  This quilt would win no, zero, zip ribbons. Who cares?  The new owner, my non-quilting friend, Mo, does not put her nose on this quilt – she just thinks it is grand!

Red Blue Log Cabin Large
Red Blue Log Cabin Large
Red Blue Log Cabin Large Detail
Red Blue Log Cabin Large Detail

In her video, Leah qualifies that her open-pressing practice is combined with a very, very small stitch length – 1.5 – which she believes adequately closes those seam holes so bearding will not occur.  Frankly, this seam length is a bit small for my taste!  I shudder to imagine the un-sewing of that tight seam!

My lesson was learned so on the small companion Log Cabin below, I ditch quilted the log blocks and kept my swirly stuff for the smooth, flat borders.  And Mo loves this one, too!

Red Blue Log Cabin Small
Red Blue Log Cabin Small
Red Blue Log Cabin Small Detail
Red Blue Log Cabin Small
Detail

So, do we throw this “rule” out completely?  Absolutely not!!  In fact, not only do you press one direction in my knots, I direct you as to the direction!  More on that later…

We need to regularly “review” the rules to understand the who, the when and the why.  Then decide for each specific situation, each quilt, each quilter – do we obey or bend or ignore?  That is the real question!

 

 

 

 

Counting Quilts or Tops, really…

Someone please stop me!  Why did I start this project anyway??

Back in the old days, when I started quilting in the late 80s, I set a personal limit on three UFOs.  If I wanted to start a fourth top, I had to quilt one of the three current UFOs.  At the time, I was a poor, but happy, stay-at-home mom and we didn’t have two nickels to spare.  So, out of respect for the time and money resources invested in a quilt, I committed to that self-discipline. And, yes, I stuck to that limit for several years.

Then, my good intentions to finish flew out the window with so many other good intentions.  By the mid-90s, my quilt pattern designs were flowing and I was teaching them around and about.  Not only did sample tops start to accumulate, the step-outs (or in-progress) tops piled up, too.  Trying to be organized toward the ultimate goal of finishing, I started to pre-cut binding for all these tops.  I carefully tucked the cut bindings into a binding box.  Was I really as well organized as I pretended?  Of course not!!  Because I failed to label and identify all these bindings!  By the time that the second binding box was necessary, I recognized this failure and began to note on each binding which top it was meant for.  However, now, several dozen bindings remain unlabeled and box #3 is full!

The tipping point came this past fall when I cut new binding for a quilt only to later find the pre-cut binding buried in one of the boxes.  So, I decided in the quiet post-holiday time to get all those bindings finally labeled and documented to avoid any more waste.  As my BIL, Matt, espouses, every project has that “mushroom factor” – like the nuclear bomb cloud that grows & grows & grows, beyond any predicting!  The simple binding labeling project turned into a massive top count project.  Oh, I am so embarrassed and overwhelmed.  183.  ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY-THREE.  tops.  to be quilted & bound. Oh my, oh my.  What is that saying – how do you eat a mountain – one bite at a time.  I shudder to think about the time I will need!!  AND school has started so another Rail Fence, two Log Cabins, and a sampler will join the queue!!

But I am working on getting something, anything done!  My two guilds have been running UFO challenges and these are giving me great motivation!  Here are the three I submitted for January:

Small Log Cabin Wall Hanging - Rose Spinwheel
Small Log Cabin Wall Hanging – Rose Spinwheel
Basic Attic Windows - WV Covered Bridges
Basic Attic Windows – WV Covered Bridges
Persian Puzzle Large Wall Hanging Flora
Persian Puzzle Large Wall Hanging Floral

This morning as I was photographing these, Mike said that I need to get down to double-digits so we can sing “99 Quilts on the wall to quilt, 99 quilts on the wall, take one down and quilt it around, 98 quilts on the wall…..etc.”  He’s so funny…..

 

New Year and new plans & projects

The fall months flew by and the first month of 2015 is almost gone!  Where does it go?!!  I know I have been productive but I will have to think hard as to know exactly how!

Fall Quilt Camp at Cedar Lakes was excellent this year – lovely weather, great classes, friendly campers and FABULOUS quilts!  I posted lots of pictures on the FB page – visit there to see them!  Spring Training Camp 2015 is almost here and I am sure that will be a great event too!!

My Akron U classes started two weeks ago and I am excited!  I have 15 students in Quiltmaking which is the biggest class yet – 8th year!!!  There are 3 “more mature” students, all of whom know their way around a sewing machine – a grad student, a professor from our Child Development dept and the FCS department admin.  Of the remaining 12 newbies, there are several who are genuinely excited to learn to quilt!  They started on the Rail Fence project and learned strip piecing.  In the next class, we will arrange the blocks and sew them together — it is a quilting adventure!!  One of them said to me the other day that he feels like we are playing a video game and I know all the cheat codes!

Another quilting adventure I am embarking on for the spring time is the Lenten Cross Project with Gyleen Fitzgerald of colourfulstitches.com.   This will be an online class, jointly taught by me and Gyleen.  It features my Lenten and Trinity Cross pattern and her quilting and color expertise.  For more information and sign-up, click on the link below!

Lenten Cross Project sign-up

Peg's Lenten Quilt St. Victor Church Richfield, Ohio
Peg’s Lenten Quilt
St. Victor Church
Richfield, Ohio

Trinity Cross

 

What I have learned along the way, part 1.

Selecting your fabrics for Peg’s Celtic Knots

How to make happy choices  in color and fabric for your pieced Celtic knot quilts

This is the first in a series of posts that have long been requested by my Celtic knot students.  This series will walk you through my thoughts and ideas about selecting, matching and combining colors and fabrics.  This first post will start with the Background Fabric.

  • Generally, the best place to begin your fabric selections is with the Background Fabric. It sets the tone and style of the entire quilt top. Your piece can have any look you desire.
  • You can take a stately, more traditional approach or choose a more dynamic, contemporary style. You can create a time-honored look with a pretty floral background and soft accents. An Amish style with a dark, black solid background is also a stunning choice.  Even a homespun style is striking!
  • The styles and choices are infinite and completely up to you!

You can pick a solid or a print!

Persian Puzzle
Persian Puzzle
LoveKnot
LoveKnot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Background  or a Dark Background….

Persian Puzzle
Persian Puzzle
Ribbon Wreath
Ribbon Wreath

Wild….. or Soft & Subtle….

Peggy's Plaid
Peggy’s Plaid
Over and OverAgain Double-knot
Over and OverAgain Double-knot

 

 Contemporary or Classic & Classy…..

Russian Reel Wallhanging
Russian Reel

 

Over and OverAgain
Over and OverAgain

Florals are a perennial favorite…..

Paisleys are perfect…..

 Liturgical Quilts …..

Look for background fabrics with specific colors, those which have specific symbolism in worship – purple, red, green, gold, brown, and white – to highlight and set off  the accent fabrics…..

 Wrap-up on the Background Fabric

  • Be aware of the scale or, the distance of the repeat, in your background fabric. Keep the scale within the size of your pattern pieces. Otherwise, the cohesiveness of the fabric is lost which can result in “holey” effects.
  • Please do NOT select any fabric that has a very distinct striped appearance. The pieces twist and turn so often that a stripe would not be attractive. It would simply distract the eye and detract from the entire design.  Note: this advice applies only to the Background Fabrics.  As you will see, striped accents for the knots can be fabulous!

But remember — this is your quilt, not anyone else’s!  Have fun – enjoy the journey!

The next post will discuss the accent fabrics that produce your knot….stay tuned!

What I have learned along the way, Part 2.

aka – Mrs. B’s 3 C’s

Now on to the accent fabrics which will define your knot…

The discussions and lessons and websites on color wheels and color theory are everywhere!  Much of this is overwhelming for a beginning quiltmaker.  In fact, I think you can study Munsell, Kandinsky, Albers, and Itten for years and still be conflicted and confused in the fabric store over just the right fabric to pick.

And beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Yesterday, one of the other professors was dissing the Rail Fence sample below.  It was hanging in the construction lab and she said that it hurt her eyes.  She conjectured that it must be one of my “mistakes” but admonished her students against relaying her comments back to me.  Of course, they immediately blabbed.  They knew that this particular sample is one of my favorites and I consider it is a good representation of a 60° triad combination of green-purple-yellow – I guess yellowy orange.  Oh well.  What do you think?  Actually, I don’t care who likes it or not – it is still one of my favorites!

Rail Fence with a streak of lightning!
Rail Fence with a streak of lightning!

So, in an attempt to allay your conflict and confusion, here is part two of my easy guide to approach color and fabric selection.

There are three basic states or options of combining fabrics and colors:

  • Coordinated or Complacent or Calm– syn. harmonious, amicable, congenial, congruous, matching.
  • Contrast – syn. opposition, variance, contraposition, converse
  • Clash – syn. battle, discordant, unfriendly, disagreeable, conflict

Let’s explore and discuss each option. And always remember, each quilt is YOUR quilt, not anyone else’s.  Beauty is in your eye alone.  Rules may indeed be broken!  Experiment and have fun!

The first C of my 3 C’s is Coordinated.   To achieve this look, use these approaches:

  • Colors from the same hue family – monochromatic; eg all blues, all yellows, all reds
  • Colors that are adjacent on the color wheel – analogous
  • Colors with the same light/dark values
  • Colors that have the same underlying tones -either grey or clear tones
LoveKnot Twin green floral
LoveKnot Twin green floral
LoveKnot Twin green floral close-up
LoveKnot Twin green floral close-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Peggys Plaid
Pink Peggy’s Plaid

Monochromatic;  Staying within the same family – “mono”, one – will help coordinate your quilts

The Interlaced & Interlocked Bubbles and the OverAgain Medallion quilt tops below coordinate on several levels:

  • Accent from same fabric line – all same tones
  • Soft, pastel colors – all same values
Interlaced  Interlocked Bubbles close-up
Interlaced & Interlocked Bubbles close-up
Interlaced  Interlocked Bubbles
Interlaced & Interlocked Bubbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastel OverAgain medallion
Pastel OverAgain medallion
Pastel OverAgain medallion close-up
Pastel OverAgain medallion close-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going too far……The danger of too much coordination → A bit too blended?

While coordinated quilts are indeed lovely, sometimes over-coordinating your fabrics can blend right into bland and boring or a muddled mish-mash……

Batik Endless Ribbons
Batik Endless Ribbons

So, how do we go from bland and boring to pizzazz & pop? Contrast is how!  We put some competition in our quilts!  Think of this as the battleground for dominance!

In the next post in this series, we will study the second C – Contrast – why we want it and how we get it.

Until then, enjoy the trips to the quilt shop!

What I have learned, Part 3 – A.

The second C – Contrast

What constitutes Contrast?  Why do we want it?
syn. opposition, variance, contraposition, converse

Contrast will produce graphic effects and secondary patterns to enhance your work and make it more visually interesting.

Color theorists will often discuss contrast in associations and combinations of color, based on their relationships on the color wheel, like analogous, complementary, triads, etc.

And Quiltmakers often concentrate on lightness/darkness or value as the primary, be-all-and-end-all way to achieve contrast.

While color and value are valid approaches, there are several ways to achieve contrast – especially with the wonderful, artistic textiles that are available for quiltmakers today…….

Here are four simple methods to achieve contrast:

  • Value: light/dark shading.
  • Texture: movement, scale (sort of)
  • Hue or Color: contrast between the tones or grayscale of colors
  • Caliente (Heat): contrast between “hot” & “cold” fabrics

This competition means that contrast is a relationship between the fabrics in a quilt!

NOTE: I will present each aspect of contrast in its own blog post so I can load lots of pics without bogging down your computer.  Since Value Contrast is so commonly used with quiltmakers, let’s start there…..

Contrast with Value:

Tips for working with value:

  • White has no color while black contains all colors. These two colors help you achieve the highest value contrast with any other hues.
  • Within a color family, go from darkest value to lightest value.
  • Within complementary hues, mix darks and lights.
    Lenten Cross
    Lenten Cross

    Important to remember – contrast is a relationship between the fabrics in a quilt!

This pink & black quilt has very high value contrast – light pinks play well against darkest dark. The higher the contrast, the more the competition – the more striking visual effect!

Hot pink  black OverAgain Medallion
Hot pink & black OverAgain Medallion

In the quilt below, the value contrast is not has high so not as strong as the Amish styled one above.  Of course, this LoveKnot is lovely with a softer effect than OverAgain quilt above.

loveknot_shannon_0011
LoveKnot

Here are several good examples of how value – light vs. dark can work in a quilt.  These are pairs of the same knot pattern made with the same accent fabrics – or knot fabrics – placed against light and dark background fabrics.  How are the relationships different?

Here are two Square Knot quilts:

Square Knot dark
Square Knot dark
Square Knot Light
Square Knot Light

Contrast can bring drama and stronger visual interest to your quilts!

Two more quilts, OverAgain Medallions with Celtic Ribbons Border – same accent fabrics – placed in opposite positions, same knots, different backgrounds. The first quilt has a softer feel than the Amish styled one below it. Black is the darkest dark and so is the highest value competitor available.

Softer OverAgain Medallion with Celtic Ribbons Border
Softer OverAgain Medallion with Celtic Ribbons Border
Dark Amish-styled OverAgain Medallion with Celtic Ribbons Border
Dark Amish-styled OverAgain Medallion with Celtic Ribbons Border

Value gradients within the same color family or hue, positioned dark to light and light to dark.

Celtic Cubes - dark rust
Celtic Cubes – dark rust
Celtic Cubes - light rust
Celtic Cubes – light rust

Remember, relationship are key to contrast!

Next we will study Contrast with Texture!

 

What I have learned, Part 3 – B.

Here is the next way to achieve contrast – with Texture:
movement, motifs, graphics, visual effects.

Many quiltmakers will refer to this as contrast in scale.  While different sizes or scale of motifs may indeed accomplish Textural contrast, it is not the only way!

I also will call this “movement” contrast because when I was young, my very tailored mother would pooh-pooh my desire for a flowered blouse as being too busy!  Floral fabrics were always “busy” in her estimation!

To achieve Textural contrast, some tips:

  • Mix up the size, shape, or orientation of your prints
  • Mix up the motifs; use stripes or plaid with dots and florals
  • Tone-on-tone prints are hugely popular with quiltmakers for adding some visual interest

And always, relationship is key!

Triple Cross
Triple Cross

Speaking of Florals – here striped accent fabrics set off nicely against the floral background.  Remember, in my knots, stripes are excellent for accent fabrics; not so much for backgrounds.  The background pieces twist unpredictably and will interfere with the visual effect of your knot.

Russian Reel close-up
Russian Reel close-up
Russian Reel Wall Hanging
Russian Reel Wall Hanging

 

 

 

 

 

One of favorite textural contrast fabrics application is putting paisley in the background with tone-on-tones or solids in the knot accent fabrics.  Paisleys make a great counterpoint to a solid or tone-on-tone accent! There is so much movement, so much activity in paisley!  See in the two quilts below how the texture in the paisley, countered by the solid-appearing knot, keeps your eye moving around on the quilt!

Wonderlinks Wall Hanging
Wonderlinks Wall Hanging
Imperial Knot
Imperial Knot

How about Dots & Stripes?!!  More great texture and movement contrast!

Square Dance - pattern coming soon!
Square Dance – pattern coming soon!
Square Dance detail
Square Dance detail

 Let’s revisit this bubbles quilt that we saw in Part 2 –

The textural contrast puts some snap in what could have been a bit flat and blah!

Interlaced  Interlocked Bubbles close-up
Interlaced Interlocked Bubbles close-up
Interlaced  Interlocked Bubbles
Interlaced Interlocked Bubbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Textural contrast can be used very easily and effectively to bring life and interest to all your quiltmaking work, not just your Celtic knots!

Next we will look at Hue contrast!

What I have learned, Part 3 – C.

Contrast #3 – Hue Contrast

The next way to get contrast is Hue.  This one is a bit hard to believe – don’t we WANT to match every hue, every color perfectly, exactly, absolutely?  Well, maybe… if you want to risk having boring quilts!

In the first class I ever took about color and color theory, the instructor suggested to us (maybe she went so far as admonished) to not match the colors perfectly.  Frankly, this was really hard for me to get and the idea made no sense until I made the famous Noah’s Ark quilt below — and took it to be judged by NQA certified judges.

Maggie's Noah's Ark Quilt
Maggie’s Noah’s Ark Quilt

This was made for a very special, long-awaited baby and the nursery was done in a Noah’s Ark theme.  Fortuitously, there was an entire line of Noah’s Ark fabric available at the time and I bought it all!   And proceeded to painstakingly design and piece it perfectly around the fabrics.  The conversational motifs are placed precisely in the center of the blocks!  The sashing was the striped coordinate – fussy-cut to match each stripe!  Well, my pride was popped during show judging when one judge took one look at the quilt and declared – “oh, my, what a pretty panel!”.  My heart sunk to my toes!  After all that precision work — a panel – she called my quilt a panel!  and then it dawned on me!  All the fabrics matched too perfectly!  A brighter blue or red may have added some spark, some life to a quilt that was truly pretty but not too pizzazzy!  Regardless of what those judges said, I am still proud of this quilt and that little baby, Maggie, is a now freshmen in college!

For many, many years, the mills of home dec fabric provided the dots of colors in the selvages of the color used to print the fabrics.  Recently, the quilt fabric mills have begun the same service.  So, now, we see quiltmakers walking around the stores using the selvage dots to find that perfectly matched red or blue or green.  However tempting – resist, resist the compulsion!!

Both of the quilts below were constructed with a Hoffmann Challenge fabric as the background.

Persian Puzzle in-progress; Hoffmann Challenge
Persian Puzzle in-progress; Hoffmann Challenge
Triple Knot; Hoffmann Challenge
Triple Knot; Hoffmann Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Persian Puzzle example, the knot gets a little lost along the way because the accent fabrics match perfectly to the hues in the background.  In the Triple Knot, the blue is smokier or grayer, the red is oranger and the green is greener – this knot has a bit more drama than the other!  This is Hue contrast well employed!

Look at the Interlaced & Interlocked Queen below.  The orange in the accent knot is not as red as the background hue and the blue in the background is a true blue, not the vibrant teal of the knot!  The black accent provides value contrast.  All three of the accent fabrics offer textural contrast against the movement of the paisley background.  The result is strong and energetic!

Interlaced & Interlocked detail
Interlaced & Interlocked detail
Interlaced & Interlocked Queen
Interlaced & Interlocked Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An easy way to gain Hue contrast is using an accent fabric that is not in the background at all!  The pink in the Crossroads variation below brings your eye right into the center while the hot teal in the LoveKnot — no, you can’t have it – it’s mine! — is just electric!

sq_morass
Crossroads variation
favorite_loveknot
Peg’s favorite LoveKnot

One more piece of advice: three colors are very, very powerful so be judicious when using them – yellow and its two partners on a color wheel – orange, and yellow-green (or lime green).  Make sure to balance them with strong contrast of one of the four types discussed in these posts!  These hues can easily dominate any quilt top!

Persian Puzzle/Lenten Cross
Persian Puzzle/Lenten Cross

Next, we move on to the final source of contrast – Heat!!

 

 

 

 

What I have learned, Part 3 – D.

Last but not least, Heat, baby, Heat!

Caliente (Heat) Contrast:
contrast between “hot” & “cold” fabrics

Color Wheel
Color Wheel

When a standard color wheel is cut down the middle between yellow and violet as above, the yellow-orange-red side is considered warm while the violet-blue-green side is considered cool.  There are theories that these different families of colors evoke a different emotional result in viewers.  Warm colors are said to be passionate while cool colors can be calming, restful.  see more at: Smashing Magazine for Designers.

For Quiltmakers, a few simple tips:

  • The hots – red, orange, and yellow – contrast strongly against their complements on the color wheel, the cools – the blues and violets
  • Add a hotter or more intense tone as a “zinger”
  • Add a cooler or grayer tone to cool down a piece
  • Black is Fonzie – the coolest of the cool

See the Celtic Cubes below.  The hot, hot pink is a spectacular knot on the cool see of black.

Celtic Cubes
Celtic Cubes

This Endless Ribbons is a great example of Heat contrast – the yellow to teal transition is powerful and almost explosive!

Endless Ribbons
Endless Ribbons
Endless Ribbons detail
Endless Ribbons detail

Moderate Heat Contrast

Finally, here is a quilt top in which the contrast is not as strong but nonetheless effective.  The pink vs. the purple and teal is a even competition – none of the three fabrics triumphs over the others.  But the heat contrast from the teal & purple to the pink keeps this piece interesting and vivacious!

Trinity Cross
Trinity Cross

In the next and last post in this series, I will share my good bad examples – combinations and relationships that didn’t quite work out – the third and unfortunate state ….Clashing!

 

What I have learned, Part 4

Of course, no one wants to admit that their well-considered plan for a precious quilt did not quite work out, but there it is…..

The final state, that final C, of combining fabrics is Clashing

Clash: syn. battle, discordant, unfriendly, disagreeable, conflict:

The relationship is a failure, a bomb, a debacle…..

Of course, quiltmakers attempt to avoid colors and fabrics that clash and here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoid using discordant tones – eg. clear tones with gray- or brown-tones
  • Avoid using conflicting genres or styles of fabrics – eg. 30’s repros with batiks
  • Check the sizes of your patchwork pieces; avoid using a fabric scale that is too large for the piece, resulting in ‘holey’ quilts with too little of a color or motif showing

Here are some examples of where my plans or expectations went awry.  We call them good bad examples.  The first is the brass and rose Endless Ribbons below.  This brass color of the ribbons just doesn’t do any justice to the mauve/magentas in the background.  This quilt top has photographed much better than it appears in natural light so there is hope for redeeming it with good quilting!

Bronze & Rose Endless Ribbons
Brass & Rose Endless Ribbons
Bronze & Rose Endless Ribbons detail
Brass & Rose Endless Ribbons detail

Can you see the problem with this Interlaced & Interlocked quilt?  Both of the rust accents work so well – good value contrast, high textural contrast against the luscious paisley and then the tan….dissolves right into the background and the knot seems a bit “holey” as opposed to whole! If only I had used a cream!

Interlaced Interlocked detail
Interlaced & Interlocked detail
Interlaced Interlocked
Interlaced & Interlocked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next quilt has also photographed much better than it appears in natural light.  At this point, despite the strength of the magenta and yellow hues, this Celtic Cube knot details seems lost and blended.  With good quilting, the knot may be convinced to pop off and float above the background.

Magenta Celtic Cubes
Magenta Celtic Cubes

What do you think of this Persian Puzzle quilt top?  Is this too blended, too coordinated?  Did I swerve toward boredom or is just softly coordinated?  Maybe the differentiation is subjective…….

“Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.”

Persian Puzzle
Persian Puzzle

Trying to avoid orange in the Lucky Labyrinth knot overpowering the purple, I chose rose instead.  It looks dismal and washed out maybe strong quilting will help.  Or I see a recurring theme….maybe quilting will help.

Lucky Labyrinth
Lucky Labyrinth
Lucky Labyrinth detail
Lucky Labyrinth detail

For a final analysis, let’s look at two tops.  You know I love paisleys –  a student brought this one to a class and I quickly located it in a shop and bought yards and yards.  The results, one swing and one miss….Side-by-side, same fabrics – one quilt has 4 accents, the other has 2.  Which has a better visual effect & why??

Persian Puzzle on-point
Persian Puzzle on-point
Lucky Labyrinth
Lucky Labyrinth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, finally, what are the lessons learned along the way?

1. Pick a road – either coordination or contrast and try to stay on it!
2. Things don’t always turn out as planned but the journeys are a blast!

And, once again, always remember, each quilt is YOUR quilt, not anyone else’s.  Rules may indeed be broken!  Experiment and have fun!

Megan's Ribbon Wreath
Megan’s Ribbon Wreath