Today's amazing guest post on colour process is from Alison who blogs at Little Island Quilting.
I personally think how you tackle the levels of dark, medium and light are probably the most important part of how your quilt will turn out. I prefer my values to be on the edge of one category or another as it gives a feeling of softness, it blurs the lines of the pattern (which I like) and it does mean you can take a more relaxed attitude to what ‘colour’ to use. It makes your eyes work to see the pattern and for me, I just find that very visually exciting.
Because I felt the white made this quilt a bit 'flat' visually, I decided to add the little butterfly corners inCreams add warmth to me. And if the darks, mediums and lights that I’ve used have cream hues in them (as opposed to whites) then I will probably go with cream backgrounds.I’ve mentioned it before and I know there are those who don’t like it but I find brown invaluable. It acts as a warm bridge builder between so many colours that I often find myself reaching for it.
Black - I’m not a huge fan of on it’s own. I find it too draining and too safe…if that makes sense. Black and white together are a different matter. Then I think they add an exciting neutral component to a quilt and are especially brilliant when my scrappy quilts are overflowing with powerful and contrasting colours and designs.I never plan the fabrics I am going to use in a quilt from start to finish. I think there are a number of reasons for this:· I equate planning with work and I don’t want to work at my hobby· I don’t have a local quilt store I can pop to for just the right amount/shade of fabric· I therefore have to work with what I’ve got and if I use it up (which I invariably do) it pushes me in another direction as I am forced to use another piece of fabric. I think that is where my scrappiness comes from; that and the joy of fabric buying!Another thing to mention is that all the time I am making a quilt I am thinking if it is visually stimulating on the eye. I also like gardening and in numerous garden design books it mentions creating little rooms and vistas for your garden; to not lay it all out flat in front of you, to give the eyes a chance to discover something new each time you look.
Poncy as it may sound, I can relate that to the colours in a quilt. I don’t want to look at a quilt and drink it all in immediately. I want to look at it and have my eyes darting all over it to take in the different shades, colours, tones, scales and fabrics used.So bearing all that in mind, I start pulling fabrics. I’ll sometimes start with just one main print that I want to use, just because I’m drawn to it. If I’ve done that, then I start pulling fabrics that go with it. I know many people recommend looking at the colours used on the selvedge but I don’t as that puts me off. It makes me think that I should be using certain colours because they appear on the selvedge and instead, I’d rather work instinctively.As I’m pulling fabrics and starting to sew I’m thinking:· Is there enough movement for the eyes – I try and achieve this through using a complete range of scales and styles of fabric. In my mind everything and anything will go if it is cut up small enough· Balance – have a nice balance of colours. By that I mean if my first random scrappy block has some orange in it, I’ll make sure it appears at least once someone else· However, the good thing about going scrappy though is you don’t have to worry too much about balance because the law of averages usually dictate that eventually I will have used most colours· Have I got my values right?· If I feel I’m going too mad and random with fabric choices, then I look to rein it back in by using black and white fabrics or a neutral or even a patterned fabric that I then start to use a bit more than all the others.
If I had to offer any tips on an exciting colour combination it would be:· Don’t buy the whole range of one fabric line. If you have to, don’t use it all in the same quilt. Mix and match· Think value first and colour second· Don’t spend too much time agonising over what will and won’t go – if you’re busy concentrating on values and you use enough different scraps, eventually it’ll all go!· Try to get a mix of florals, geometrics etc going and include different scales· Use brown!· Oh and use purple too. I never see many quilts with purple· If you don’t like a particular fabric, consider turning it over and using the reverse side· And above all else...HAVE FUN!